Visiting North Cascades in the Non-Peak Season

Snow covered lake and mountains
Conditions and weather are variable during the non-peak season. Visitors must plan ahead and be self-sufficient.

North Cascades National Park Service Complex is open year-round. The park peak operational season is late May-late September, with limited services outside the operational season. Road access is weather dependent, typically accessible spring through late fall. For more information or specific questions, email the park complex.

 

Limited services are available in the fall. Park visitor and information centers close for the season in late September or early October, including the Wilderness Information Center. Check the current operating hours.

State Route 20 (North Cascades Highway): Snow and avalanche hazards close the highway in mid- to late November; the road generally re-opens in April or early May. The winter closure is at milepost 130 (Colonial Creek Campground) or 134 (Ross Dam Trailhead). For more information, visit Washington State Department of Transportation or check current road conditions.

All sites in campgrounds along State Route 20 and in Stehekin can be reserved during the operational season (late May-September) in advance. After the operational season, primitive camping is available year-round along State Route 20 at Goodell Creek Campground, Gorge Lake Campground, and at 10 walk-in, tent-only sites in Colonial Creek South Campground. Primitive camping is also available year-round in Stehekin. Learn more about drive-in campgrounds.

A permit is required for backcountry camping year-round. After the Wilderness Information Center closes for the season, self-issue permits are available outside the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount, outside the Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin, or via email. Learn more about backcountry permits.

Weather in the fall can be variable. Rain is common at lower elevations, with snowy conditions in the mountains. Check the weather forecast before heading to the park complex.

With inclement weather common and limited services available, visitors in the winter need to plan ahead and be self-sufficient. Park visitor and information centers are closed during the winter months.

State Route 20 (North Cascades Highway): Snow and avalanche hazards close the highway in mid- to late November; the road generally re-opens in April or early May. The winter closure is at milepost 130 (Colonial Creek Campground) or 134 (Ross Dam Trailhead). For more information, visit Washington State Department of Transportation or check current road conditions.

Primitive camping is available year-round along State Route 20 at Goodell Creek Campground, Gorge Lake Campground, and at 10 walk-in, tent-only sites in Colonial Creek South Campground. Learn more about drive-in campgrounds. Primitive camping is also available year-round in Stehekin.

A permit is required for backcountry camping year-round. During winter months, self-issue permits are available outside the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount, outside the Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin, or via email. Learn more about backcountry permits.

Winter recreation in the park offers a unique opportunity for challenge and solitude, but it also involves extra safety considerations. Be prepared before setting out. 

Limited services are available in the spring. Park visitor and information centers reopen for the operational season in late May. Check the current operating hours.

State Route 20 (North Cascades Highway): The highway closes during the winter and usually re-opens in late April or early May. For more information, visit Washington State Department of Transportation or check current road conditions. Cascade River Road generally opens to the Cascade Pass trailhead in early July.

Higher elevation roads and trails can be cold and snow-covered until early July. Park rangers begin providing trail condition updates in May.

Primitive camping is available year-round along State Route 20 at Goodell Creek Campground, Gorge Lake Campground, and at 10 walk-in, tent-only sites at Colonial Creek South Campground. Primitive camping is also available year-round in Stehekin. All campgrounds reopen with reservations and full services in mid-May. Learn more about car campgrounds.

A permit is required for backcountry camping year-round. Until the Wilderness Information Center opens in late May, self-issue permits are available outside the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount, outside the Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin, or via email. Learn more about backcountry permits.

Wintery conditions persist into the spring. Check weather forecasts and be prepared for snow hazards.

 

Plan Your Visit

  • A blue lake surrounded by mountains.

    Current Conditions

    Learn about current conditions for roads, trails, lakes, and more.

  • A stone and wood sign for the North Cascades Visitor Center.

    Operating Hours & Seasons

    Check out current operating hours for park complex and affiliated visitor facilities.

  • Looking out over a lake and mountains dusted with snow.

    Winter Safety

    Winter can show you a different side of the park, but it also involves extra safety considerations.

  • A man sets up a green tent in a campground.

    Camping

    Learn about the different camping options within the park complex.

  • Where and why they are required, and how to obtain a permit

    Backcountry Permits

    Backcountry permits are required year-round. Find out where they are required, why they are required, and how to obtain a permit.

Last updated: October 28, 2021

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Sedro-Woolley , WA 98284

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360 854-7200

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