• 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 »

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?

Junior Ranger Totem: Raven

Anyone can become a North Cascades Junior Ranger! Pick up one of the four FREE activity booklets at any of the visitor or information centers. Complete the activities and earn your official junior ranger badge! Download the booklet here. More...