Days are growing longer and birdsong is filling the mountain air as the North Cascades awaken from the long winter. With the Washington State Department of Transportation hard at work reopening the North Cascades Highway(State Route 20), North Cascades National Park Complex is ready to welcome you.
The Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount and the NorthCascades Visitor Center near Newhalem are both open for the season. Until June 30, backcountry adventurers looking for information and free permits for overnight stays in the backcountry will find the doors of the Wilderness Information Center open Sunday to Thursday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and Friday to Saturday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. From July 1 until Sept. 6, its hours will increase to Sunday to Thursday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Friday to Saturday between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The North Cascades Visitor Center near Newhalem is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through June 30, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 1 through Sept. 8. Visit with knowledgeable park rangers who can help you plan a trip or view the exhibits to learn about the complex ecosystems of the park. Easy hiking trails will take you to the banks of the Skagit River and to viewpoints looking into the heart of the Picket Range.
Explore historic Newhalem and the Skagit Information Center. Beginning May 25, the center will be open Friday through Sunday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. From June 15 through Sept. 3, the center will open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for Skagit Tours. Offered in partnership with Seattle City Light and the North Cascades Institute, a selection of tours are available that explore the natural and human processes at work in the upper SkagitValley. Learn more and register for a tour at www.skagittours.com .
The North Cascades National Park Complex contains four car-accessible campgrounds along State Route 20, the main road through the park. These campgrounds open Friday, May 18, except for the north loop of Colonial Creek Campground which opens Friday, May 25.
Located on the south side of State Route 20 at milepost 119, Goodell Creek Campground is situated in lush, old growth forest on the banks of the Skagit River. Goodell Creek is appropriate for tents and small RVs, and offers 19 sites. There are also three group sites which can be reserved either online at http://www.recreation.gov or by phone at 1-877-444-6777. The fee is $10 per night for first come, first served sites.
South of State Route 20 at milepost 120, Newhalem Creek Campground is conveniently located on the banks of the Skagit River between the town of Newhalem and the North Cascades Visitor Center. A series of short walks and interpretive trails link the campground to natural and historic destinations. There are 111 sites, some of which can be reserved either online at http://www.recreation.gov or by phone at 1-877-444-6777. The fee is $12 per night.
Just outside the town of Diablo, north of State Route 20 at mile post 126 is Gorge Lake Campground. This campground lies on the bank of Gorge Lake, next to the cascading Stetattle Creek. Sites in this small first come, first served campground are free, but campers must bring their own water.
At Colonial Creek Campground, you can camp in old growth forest at the base of the impressively glaciated Colonial Peak on the shore of Diablo Lake at mile post 130 on State Route 20. There are 142 first come, first served sites and the fee is $12 per night. There is a fully accessible fishing pier and boat launch on Diablo Lake. Hiking opportunities abound for the whole family from the forested Thunder Creek Trail and the Thunder Woods Nature Walk to the views from Thunder Knob Trail.
For a unique lodging opportunity, consider a stay at Ross Lake Resort – 12 cabins and three bunkhouses situated on log floats in Ross Lake. The lack of direct road access to the resort adds to its remote character. Learn more at http://www.rosslakeresort.com or by calling 206-386-4437.
On the other side of the mountains, the North Cascades National Park Complex welcomes a new concession operator to Stehekin. The North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin opens May 18 with full-service lodging, restaurant, and retail sales. Reservations are available now at http://www.lodgeatstehekin.com or by calling 509-683-4494.
Also in Stehekin, at the head of 50-mile long Lake Chelan is the Golden WestVisitorCenter, open daily through mid-October. Visit with park rangers, plan a backcountry trip, or participate in a ranger program. Learn more about Stehekin and how to get there at http://www.nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/stehekin.htm.
Car-access camping and the only boat launch into Ross Lake are available near the Canadian border at the north end of Ross Lake, in the area called Hozomeen. This scenic area is reached from Hope, British Columbia, via the 42-mile gravel Silver-Skagit Road. Normally open for the Victoria Day holiday, these facilities were damaged over the winter and will require extra time to open for the season. These facilities are anticipated to open June 8.
General Trip Planning: http://www.nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/index.htm
Skagit Tours: http://www.skagittours.com
Campground Reservations: http://www.recreation.gov
Ross LakeResort: http://www.rosslakeresort.com
North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin: http://www.lodgeatstehekin.com
Stehekin Trip Planning: http://www.nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/stehekin.htm