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Contact: Charles Beall, 360 854-7302
North Cascades National Park Complex welcomes spring visitors. Spring is the time to visit North Cascades National Park Complex to witness an explosion of valley wildflowers and waterfalls raging from snowmelt. This is also the time to see birds migrating and wildlife emerging from winter dens.
The North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) over Washington Pass is open and travelers are treated to memorable views of emerald-green water and jagged, snow-capped peaks at overlooks along the Skagit River, below Gorge Creek Falls, and above Diablo and Ross Lakes. Shopping and restaurants await in the numerous historic communities, such as Concrete and Winthrop, along the way.
Daily passenger ferries (www.ladyofthelake.com) depart Chelan, travel the scenic 50-mile Lake Chelan, and bring visitors to the unique park-gateway community of Stehekin. Visitors can hike the area’s many trails, take a tour to the 312-foot Rainbow Falls, or soak up the historic ambiance of the community. Knowledgeable park rangers can be found at the Golden West Visitor Center each day to help you plan your next activity. The Stehekin Landing Resort (www.stehekinlanding.com) operates a full-service restaurant and welcomes overnight guests to rustic comfort in rooms overlooking Lake Chelan. Visitors can also rent bicycles, raft the Stehekin River, horseback ride, kayak on Lake Chelan, and attend a ranger program.
“The North Cascades is a national treasure in the backyard of all Washington residents,” explained North Cascades National Park Complex Superintendent Chip Jenkins, “Take advantage of what spring offers, grab your family and friends, and come on out to your park.”
Start your visit by talking with a friendly park ranger at one of these centers:
- Park and Forest Information Center in Sedro-Woolley is currently open Monday through Friday and will be open daily beginning May 23.
- Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount is currently open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and will be open daily beginning May 17.
- North Cascades National Park Visitor Center near Newhalem is open daily.
- Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin is open daily.
- Current schedule and hours available at www.nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/hours.htm.
Car Access Campgrounds
Numerous car access campgrounds are located along the North Cascades Highway:
· Goodell Creek Campground, located along the Skagit River, is open for primitive camping (pit toilets, no services). Water and garbage service begins May 20. No reservations. Milepost 120.
· Newhalem Creek Campground, located between the Skagit River and the North Cascades National Park Visitor Center, opens May 19. Flush toilets, water, and easy hiking trails. Reservations available at www.recreation.gov. Milepost 120.
· Gorge Lake Campground, a small campground near Diablo with six sites on the shore of Gorge Lake is open. Pit toilets, no services, no reservations. Milepost 126.
· Colonial Creek Campground, located on the shore of Diablo Lake, is open for primitive camping (pit toilets, no services). Flush toilets, water, and garbage service begin May 21. Hiking trails, no reservations. Milepost 131.
· Group camping is available in the Goodell Creek Group Campground and the Newhalem Creek Campground. Reservations available at www.recreation.gov. Milepost 120.
· More information and campground maps available at www.nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/car-camping.htm.
In addition to the Stehekin Landing Resort, three campgrounds are open to serve overnight visitors:
· Purple Point Campground, located at the Stehekin Landing, is open. Flush toilet, water, no reservations.
· Harlequin Campground, located four miles from the Stehekin Landing, is open for primitive camping (pit toilets, no services). No reservations.
· Weaver Point Campground, accessible from Lake Chelan,is currently open to hikers and will be reachable to boats as soon as the lake level rises sufficiently to make the docks accessible. No reservations.
The majority of trails are still snow-covered, even at low elevations, but some trails will begin to melt out soon. Early season favorites include the Lakeshore Trail along Lake Chelan and the East Bank Trail along Ross Lake. For current trail information, visit www.nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/trail-conditions.htm. If you are heading out into the backcountry, keep in mind that you could encounter a wide variety of conditions – from new or deep snow to mudslides, bridges out, downfall, etc. Carry extra food and clothing, and leave an itinerary with family or friends. All overnight stays in the backcountry require a free permit that must be obtained in person at the visitor/information station nearest the departure point.
North Cascades Environmental Learning Center
The North Cascades Institute (www.ncascades.org) offers a rich diversity of experiences designed to get you outside in the North Cascades.
- Memorial Day Weekend Family Getaway, May 23-25:In celebration of Earth Day, North Cascades Institute is offering families of three or more $100 off the total registration fee until May 10 for the first Family Getaway of the season. Gather your family in the North Cascades as spring riotously returns to the mountains, but leave the tent at home because comfortable accommodations in our cozy lodges offer the excitement of the great outdoors without the complications of camping. Wonderful meals, with the tastes of young diners in mind, are served buffet-style in our lakeside dining hall. Kids and adults will enjoy learning about nature through adventures on the lake and trails, games, arts and crafts, storytelling and scientific explorations. Plus, there will be plenty of free time so your family can do your own thing too. www.ncascades.org/family
- Annual North Cascades Institute Picnic, May 30: Come to our Upper Skagit neighborhood party. Enjoy a day at the Learning Center campus with sustainability tours, children’s activities, naturalist walks, canoe trips, live music and a scrumptious BBQ picnic buffet. www.ncascades.org/picnic
- Free Day Trips, beginning June 6: Join North Cascades Institute naturalists and North Cascades National Park rangers for a free adventure in the North Cascades. Ramble through the mossy woods. Hike to a hidden waterfall. Paddle on emerald-green Diablo Lake. Bring personal gear, appropriate clothing, food and water. This is a day program only; participants are responsible for their own lodging and meals off campus. www.ncascades.org/daytrips
· Adult program offerings in May and June include learning adventures exploring birding, digital photography, sustainable gardening, watercoloring, botany, drumming, and field sketching. $30 off special for first-time registrants; scholarships, teacher clock hours, and academic credit available. More information and registration at www.ncascades.org/get_outside.
- NPS -
Digital images are available for download and use at www.nps.gov/northcascadesnationalpark/sets.