• 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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  • State Route 20 closed at Mile Post 134, Ross Dam

    After a brief closure at Newhalem due to an avalanche and unstable conditions, SR 20 has re-opened to its normal winter closure point at MP 134, Ross Dam. The highway will remain closed from Ross Dam to MP 171 (Silver Star Creek) until spring re-opening. More »

  • Ross Dam Haul Road Closure Continues

    A short segment of the Ross Dam Haul Road between the Diablo Lake suspension bridge and the tunnel remains closed to public use due to continued recovery following a March 2010 landslide. The closure will remain in effect through 2014. More »

  • Notice of planned work for the Cascade River Road, fall 2014

    Visitors planning to access the park via the Cascade River Road after Labor Day should be advised that the Park Service is planning a fall closure of this road at Eldorado Creek (3 miles before the end of the road) in order to perform permanent repairs. More »

Geologic Formations

The North Cascades are still rising, shifting and forming. Geologists believe that these mountains are a collage of terranes, distinct assemblages of rock separated by faults. Fossil and rock magnetism studies indicate that the North Cascades terranes were formed thousands of miles south in the Pacific Ocean. Attached to slowly moving plates of oceanic rock, they drifted northward merging together about 90 million years ago. Colliding with the North American Continent, the drifting rock masses were thrust upwards and faulted laterally into a jumbled array of mountains. The collision broke or sliced the terranes into north or south trending faults that are still evident today.

Over time, these predecessors to today's North Cascades were further faulted and eroded to a nearly level plain. During the past 40 million years, heavier oceanic rocks thrust beneath the edge of this region. Intense heat at great depths caused them to melt. Some of the melt rose to the surface as fiery volcanic eruptions like Mt. Baker. The rest recrystalized at various depths to form vast bodies of granitic rock forming the core of the North Cascades. These gigantic pinnacles have pushed upward to majestic heights again, exposing the roots of the ancient collision zone. Scientists agree North Cascades geology comprises some of the most complex and least understood geology in North America.

Did You Know?

North Cascades is now on Flickr!

North Cascades National Park is uploading its digital image library to Flickr! Be inspired, download your favorite images, or even add your own vacation photographs to the group pool: Friends of the North Cascades. More...