• 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 »

Laws & Policies

Ross Lake General Management Plan Image Credit: NPS/Michael Liang
Ross Lake General Management Plan
NPS/Michael Liang

This webpage is intended to help you learn about the laws and policies that protect you and your park. For information on the plans and documents that implement these laws and policies and provide guidance for park management, please visit the park planning page.

Policies and plans that directly impact most visits are summarized in the Visitor Information Guide and additional information on them is available from rangers and staff at offices and visitor centers throughout the park.

Follow a link to learn more about a particular topic:

National Park Service

North Cascades National Park Complex


Enabling Legislation (1968)

"…preserve for the benefit, use, and inspiration of present and future generations certain majestic mountain scenery, snowfields, glaciers, alpine meadows, and other unique natural features in the North Cascade Mountains of the State of Washington…"

"…provide for the public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment … [and] for the conservation of the scenic, scientific, historic, and other values contributing to public enjoyment of such lands and waters…"

The enabling legislation is what Congress passed and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law in 1968 creating North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.


Wilderness Designation (1988)

In 1988, Congress established the 635,000 acre Stephen Mather Wilderness within North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area (Washington Park Wilderness Act of 1988). Over 5,000 acres in Ross Lake NRA were also designated as potential wilderness at that time. In 2012, the Secretary of the Interior redesignated 3,550 acres of potential wilderness as wilderness.


Laws, Policies and Plans Related to Hydroelectric Facilities

There are four hydroelectric facilities that operate in the park complex under licenses provided by the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) . The largest of these projects is the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project which provides approximately 15-20% of Seattle's power. For more information about these hydroelectric facilities, please visit FERC's e-library.


Superintendent's Compendium

Each national park has specific local regulations established under the Superintendent's discretionary authority under Title 36 CFR. Regulations specific to North Cascades National Park Complex are compiled annually and are available electronically here and in print at park headquarters.

* Print versions are available upon request. Please e-mail us for more information.


Firearms Possession

As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in North Cascades National Park Complex which includes North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.

It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit the RCW website or download a summary of Washington State firearm regulations.

Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances and generally includes all NPS staffed offices open to the public.

Hunting in Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas remains bound by Washington State regulations at distances greater than ¼ mile from developed area and selected other locations. See the Superintendent's Compendium for more information.

Did You Know?

Cascading stream

The North Cascades are well known for the abundant waterfalls that lace the mountains. Two of the best known waterfalls are Gorge Falls between Newhalem and Diablo along State Route 20 and Rainbow Falls in the Stehekin Valley.