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

    North Cascades

    National Park Washington

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • Diablo Lake To Be Drawn Down Three Feet in Early Oct., Trailer-Launched Boats Affected

    Diablo Lake will be drawn down 3 vertical feet for facility repairs from October 1-15. 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 »

  • Lone Mountain Fire - National Park Service Trail Closures

    The Lone Mountain Fire in North Cascades National Park is approximately 5 mi NW of Stehekin in the Boulder Creek drainage. Boulder Creek Trail is closed. 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?

Long horned beetle

There are more insects in the Park than any other group of animals; in fact, 95% of all animal species on earth are insects. Take your time to explore the breathtaking world of butterflies, beetles, and bugs. More...