• View from Sourdough Mountain Overlook  A view looking down onto Diablo Lake. Photo Credit: NPS/Michael Silverman, 2010.

    North Cascades

    National Park Washington

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  • Highway 20 Will Be Closed East of the Park For Culvert Repairs On Oct 21 & 22.

    Highway 20 will be completely closed between mileposts 147 & 157 (Granite Creek to Rainy Pass) from 6 a.m. Oct. 21 to 4 p.m. Oct. 22. The Easy Pass trailhead will be inaccessible during this time. More »

  • Diablo Lake To Be Drawn Down Three Feet in Oct., Trailer-Launched Boats Affected

    Diablo Lake will be drawn down 3 vertical feet for facility repairs from October 8-17. During the drawdown, boats with trailers will not be able to launch or take boats off the water. Hand-launched vessels will still be able to launch. More »

  • Cascade River Road will be open as normal through fall/winter 2014

    Cascade River Rd. will be open in 2014 until snow conditions make it impassable to vehicles, as normal. The road closure that was planned to begin September 8 has been postponed beyond 2014 due to unforeseen circumstances. More »

Ferns

Ferns thrive in the low light and high moisture forests of the North Cascades. Sword, deer, licorice, lace, parsley, maidenhair, bracken, lady, oak and wood ferns dapple the forest floor.

These ancient plants have been living on this planet for more than 300 million years. Ferns dominated the plant world until flowering plants emerged during the age of dinosaurs. They have internal tubes for transporting water and nutrients, without which, a plant cannot grow more than a few inches tall. Ferns have two distinguishing characteristics: they reproduce by spores (visible in small clusters called sori on the underside of leaves) and their leaves unroll from base to tip as they mature (resulting in a fiddlehead appearance).

What image of the Pacific Northwest would be complete without the forest floor covered in lush, green ferns? As you walk through the woods of the North Cascades you will discover that in moist places ferns dominate the understory. Walking amongst the fronds, what you are actually viewing are the leaves of the plant, which grow out of horizontal, underground stems called rhizomes.

Did You Know?

Cascading stream

The North Cascades are well known for the abundant waterfalls that lace the mountains. Two of the best known waterfalls are Gorge Falls between Newhalem and Diablo along State Route 20 and Rainbow Falls in the Stehekin Valley.