Highway opening allows for more recreation
OPENING OF HIGHWAY 20 EXPANDS VISITOR OPPORTUNITIES IN PARK
The opening of the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) through Washington Pass provides expanded opportunities for recreation and fun in North Cascades National Park Service Complex. "Spring is a great time to bring the family and explore the park along Highway 20," said Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins. He invites everyone to take advantage of the abundant day trip opportunities and encourages people to "stop in one of the communities along the highway, pick up supplies, and go for a walk in your national park."
Scenic drivers can tour State Route 20 through the park and enjoy Ross Lake Overlooks with views of Jack Mountain and Hozomeen Peak, which towers a mere two miles south of the Canadian border. People looking for short walks can now access the Happy Creek Forest Walk, a 1/3 mile wheelchair accessible boardwalk loop trail through a western hemlock forest and the Ruby Creek Trail, a 3/4 mile round trip walk to Ruby Creek. Both trails feature interpretive exhibits that explore the ecological relationships of the forest and the mining history of the area. Hikers can now access several longer trails from the East Bank Trailhead. The Ruby Creek Trail continues beyond the interpretive panels for another 3.3 miles to the Canyon Creek Trailhead, the Happy-Panther Trail travels above Ross Lake for 5.2 miles to the top of Ross Dam, and the East Bank Trail meanders 31 miles north to Hozomeen.
The North Cascades National Park Visitor Center, near the town of Newhalem, is open daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Hours will expand to 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. June 24 through Labor Day. The center features exhibits, theater presentations, and is staffed by park rangers and volunteers to help answer questions and to suggest recreational activities. The center also provides access to the scenic Sterling Munro Overlook and the Newhalem area contains a network of easy hiking trails such as the 1/3 mile Rock Shelter Trail and the 1.8 mile River Loop Trail.
The Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount is currently open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The center opens daily beginning May 13, with expanded hours of 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturday. Hours expand further to Sunday through Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. June 24 through Labor Day. The center features trip planning information and is the main location for backcountry users to obtain permits which are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. Updated trail information is available online at www.nps.gov/noca.
The Goodell Creek campground near Newhalem and Gorge Lake Campground near Diablo are open. The Newhalem Creek Campground will open May 15. The Upper Goodell Creek and Newhalem Creek Group Camps will also open May 15. Reservations for these group camps and for Loop C of Newhalem Creek Campground can be made online at www.recreation.gov. Colonial Creek Campground, on the shore of Diablo Lake, will open in segments this year. The north loop of the campground, closed due to flooding since the fall of 2003, will open May 17. The south loop will open May 24.
The North Cascades Institute’s spring and summer catalog of seminars, programs, and events is also now available and contains a variety of offerings in the park such as Diablo Downtime and Easy to Thunder: North Cascades History Backpack. Catalogs can be browsed and downloaded from www.ncascades.org. These programs have been area favorites for over 20 years. "I am particularly looking forward to participating in one of the Institute’s Family Getaways this summer with my wife and kids," Superintendent Jenkins said.