• 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 »
  • Highway 20 Will Be Closed East of the Park For Culvert Repairs On Oct 21 & 22.

    Highway 20 will be completely closed between mileposts 147 & 157 (Granite Creek to Rainy Pass) from 6 a.m. Oct. 21 to 4 p.m. Oct. 22. The Easy Pass trailhead will be inaccessible during this time. More »

  • Diablo Lake To Be Drawn Down Three Feet in Oct., Trailer-Launched Boats Affected

    Diablo Lake will be drawn down 3 vertical feet for facility repairs from October 8-17. 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 »

Natural Sounds Program

Waterfall, as seen from the Diablo Lake Boat Tour. Image Credit: NPS/Astudillo

A waterfall rushes into Diablo Lake near the Environmental Learning Center.


Listening to the National Parks
Waterfalls thundering out of hanging valleys, rock or ice plummeting down a steep slope, the constant chorus of birdsong - these are the sounds that make visiting North Cascades National Park Service Complex a unique experience.

Natural and cultural sounds reawaken the sense of awe that connects us to the splendor of the national park experience and have a powerful effect on our emotions, attitudes, and memories. Who can forget the flash of adrenaline from the sound of looming whitewater or the lightning bolt that cracked just a little too close?

The National Park Service regards these sounds as acoustical resources that must be protected. Acoustical resources include sounds such as animal vocalizations, waterfalls, wind, rain, and historic and cultural sounds.

The Importance of Sound
Natural sounds are essential for appreciating and enjoying park features. Our ability to see is a powerful tool for experiencing our world, but sound adds a dimension that sight alone cannot provide. In many cases, hearing is the only option for experiencing certain aspects of our environment. Our ears often provide the best opportunities to find wildlife because animals can often be heard at much greater distances than they can be seen.

Noise behaves a lot like smog in the air because it obscures sounds and reduces the listening horizon for wildlife and visitors. Places of deep quiet are most vulnerable to noise. Therefore, wildlife in remote wilderness areas and park visitors who journey to these quiet places are likely to be especially sensitive to noise.

Inside North Cascades National Park Service Complex, acoustic monitoring of sound and noise provides a scientific basis for understanding its importance. Throughout the park, acoustical recording equipment captures sound and noise as audio files and in visual images called spectrograms. You can help safeguard the sounds of life by becoming aware of your surroundings, speaking softly, and many other steps. The sounds you make will affect the experience of other visitors and wild creatures large and small.

Tread lightly and speak softly.

Did You Know?

Grizzly bear track in North Cascades National Park (1989). Photo Credit: NPS/NOCA/Roger Christophersen

Grizzly bear tracks can be a reliable indicator of species? Grizzly bear and black bear forepaw tracks are distinct from one another and often times better than a photo of the bear to confirm an observation. So don't just look up, look down.