• 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.
hide Alerts »
  • Lone Mountain Fire - 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 and War Creek Trails are closed. Rainbow Loop Trail is in-use as a staging area and closed to public use. More »

  • USFS closes Easy Pass Trail from State Route 20

    Due to fire activity near the trail, the US Forest Service has closed the Easy Pass trail and trailhead on State Route 20. This area has been receiving precipitation. The highway remains open.

Lichens

Common in the North Cascades, lichens are unique, composite life forms created when fungi enclose algae in mutualistic symbiosis. In such a relationship both organisms should benefit, however, many lichenologists believe the partnership may actually be more beneficial to the fungus than the algae. Algae have the ability to create food through photosynthesis but are vulnerable to the elements. Fungi, which are not green for lack of chlorophyll, are unable to photosynthesize their own food. When alone, fungi are usually found in the form of mold, mildew or mushrooms that play many beneficial roles in decomposition. They are also found acting as symbiotic partners of other plants in the forest. Together as lichens, algae and fungi offer something to the other: algae provide carbohydrates and fungi provide protection. Lichens exploit habitats where fungi and algae could not survive independently. As a result, the forest in the North Cascades is literally covered with lichens. They are on trees, talus slopes, and even old buildings. They display a rich diversity of forms, which to many observers is the beauty of lichens. Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria) looks like a rubbery piece of lettuce and is easy to find scattered on the ground, especially after a windstorm has knocked it out of the canopy above. Old-man's-beard (Alectoria sarmentosa) looks like green, stringy hair hanging from tree branches. Lichens provide food for animals such as flying squirrels and material for birds’ nests. Lichens are essential nitrogen fixers in forest floor soils. Sensitive to pollution, lichens are studied by park scientists to measure pollutants and aging geologic exposure.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

North Cascades NPSC has over 300 glaciers, more than any other park in the lower 48 states. More than half the glaciers in the 48 states are concentrated in this mountainous wilderness region called the North Cascades.