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About North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park Complex is located in Washington State along the Canadian border, approximately 100 miles northeast of Seattle, in Whatcom, Skagit, and Chelan counties in the 2nd and 4th congressional districts.

North Cascades National Park Complex is comprised of North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area (Ross Lake NRA), and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area (Lake Chelan NRA), a complementary suite of protected lands, united by a contiguous wilderness overlay. Combining these three distinct units under a single unique administration recognizes their shared purpose of preserving the core of the greater North Cascades ecosystem and wilderness while advancing their individual purposes.

North Cascades National Park Complex units include:

  • North Cascades National Park – 501,458 acres
  • Ross Lake National Recreation Area – 116,798 acres
  • Lake Chelan National Recreation Area – 62,902 acres

The Complex encompasses a vast “sea of peaks” replete with over 300 glaciers, sawtoothed granite pinnacles, myriad creek and riverine systems, and vast expanses of wilderness. Its rugged topography is home to a multitude of plant, animal, and fish species. Rare lichens, ancient cedars, Chinook salmon, bald eagles, marmots, mountain goats, the elusive fisher, and some 1,600 identified species share this diverse and expansive landscape. Human evidence spans nearly 10,000 years of habitation, use, and technological development.

The Complex is one of many publicly owned and protected properties within the region. Others include the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest to the east and south, and Mount BakerSnoqualmie National Forest to the west, all managed by the U.S. Forest Service. In Canada, Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park, Skagit Valley Provincial Park, and Manning Provincial Park are directly north of Ross Lake NRA and are managed by British Columbia Parks (BC Parks).

Nearly 93% of the Complex is part of the legislatively designated Stephen Mather Wilderness that, when combined with adjacent U.S. Forest Service designated wilderness, provides a two million acre contiguous wilderness area. Designated wilderness adjacent to the Complex contributes to the extensive nature of the North Cascades ecosystem, making it part of the largest contiguous designated wilderness in Washington State and one the largest in the lower 48 states. Contiguous designated wildernesses includes: Mount Baker, Pasayten, Noisy-Diobsud, Lake Chelan-Sawtooth, Glacier Peak, Henry M. Jackson, and Wild Sky wildernesses.

Source: Foundation Document – North Cascades National Park Complex

| Less than three hours from Seattle, an alpine landscape beckons. Discover communities of life adapted to moisture in the west and recurring fire in the east. Explore jagged peaks crowned by more than 300 glaciers. Listen to cascading waters in forested valleys. Witness a landscape sensitive to the Earth’s changing climate. Help steward the ecological heart of the Cascades. | North Cascades National Park | Washington | https://www.nps.gov/noca/index.htm

Fast Facts:

Date the Park was Established:October 2, 1968
Park Area (as of 2019):504,780.94 acres (2,042.8 km2)
Recreational Visitors (2018 Total):30,085 visitors

Park Weather

The best weather for visiting the North Cascades generally occurs between mid-June and late-September. Summer daytime temperatures average in the 70's F. Snow is off most trails by mid-July. Autumn and Spring are popular for color and wildlife. Storms are common: always be prepared for a few days of rain and wind. The east side of the Cascade Mountains (Lake Chelan National Recreation Area) is drier and warmer in the summer than the west side. Summer temperatures at Stehekin reach the 90's F.