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A series of dams and hydroelectric plants detract from the national park experience.
Photo Credit: guyonthego

North Cascades National Park

502 Newhalem Street, Newhalem, WA 98283
Park is open year round. Visitor center hours and roads vary by season.
360-854-7200 Half day
September 2010 Summer
$0-9 Newhalem Washington
Website Nature National Parks
First review
North Cascades National Park is located in the northern part of Washington State and borders Canada. It is known for numerous mountains, glaciers and wildlife. With limited activities and facilities, the park will be of interest mainly to wilderness hikers and campers.

The park is 504,781 acres and was established in 1968 to preserve portions of the rugged and wild Cascade Mountains. There are two national park units and two national recreation areas that together make up the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. The recreation areas are more developed with several dams and a town and roads.

The visit here was disappointing. It rained the entire time (so factor the weather into your plans). Also, the northern recreation area in which the park visitor center is located has 3 hydroelectric dams which diminish the whole park experience. The visitor center/museum is modern but has few displays. There is a movie on wilderness values, but it’s odd and forgettable. Good short hikes are limited. A rainforest hike near the visitor center is not bad. If you are into dams, a short walk passes the old powerhouse for Gorge Creek Dam.

Although there was not enough time to visit it, the southern end of the park around Stehekin and Lake Chelan looked much more interesting. That area includes a waterfall, lodging, bike rentals, hiking, horseback riding and more. It is not accessible by car, but a ferry makes regular trips and it’s worth looking into if you are in the area. Otherwise, stick to either Olympic or Mount Rainier National Parks if you are in Washington State and are looking for a great park experience.
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