• 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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  • 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 »

  • Re-opening of Adjacent U.S. Forest Service Road and Trails that Access North Cascades NP Complex

    The area closure of the Twisp River Road and the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest due to wildfires has been lifted as of August 19, 2014. 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?

lupine is a common flower in dry sunny areas

In addition to Wilderness, Recreation Areas and National Park designations there are also five Research Natural Areas in the complex: Silver Lake, Pyramid Lake, Boston Glacier, Stetattle Creek and Big Beaver Valley.