Difference between revisions of "North Cascades"
Revision as of 02:19, 14 August 2012
The North Cascades is a region of Washington.
The Cascades are a mountain range that stretches some 700 miles (1100 km) from British Columbia through central Washington into Oregon. By causing moist Pacific air to drop rain and dry out as it blows into the continent, the Cascades divide Washington state into a wet west and an arid east. The Cascades are tall -- several are above 10,000' (3000m) high, including Mount Baker in this region. Because their valleys are low and the mountains quite steep, many mountains in the Cascades are visually quite striking.
To the west from the Cascades to the coast are lowlands. Interstate Highway 5 (I-5) runs north from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia. In Snohomish county, cities like Everett and Snohomish are in the outer reaches of Seattle's influence. The Skagit Valley is fertile farmland, overflowing with tulips in the spring. Just off I-5, Anacortes is the gateway to the San Juan Islands. Further north, Bellingham is the last US city before the Canadian border.
The North Cascades region is made up of Chelan, Kittitas, Okanogan, Skagit, and Whatcom counties. The term "North Cascades" sometimes means the mountain chain as far south as Mount Rainier. The Cascades continue south in the Southwest Washington region, then into Oregon and northern California.
Amtrak's Cascade and Empire Builder service serve different parts of this region. In the Northwest Cascades the Amtrak Cascades stops in Mount Vernon and Bellingham: the service heads north to Vancouver and south to Seattle. In the North Central Cascades region the Empire Builder stops daily at Leavenworth and Wenatchee on its way west to Seattle or east to Chicago.
From British Columbia
Interstate 5 and the Peace Arch  crossing is the main land port-of-entry to this region of Washington from Canada. However this is only one of five land crossing points between the Lower Mainland region of BC and the Northwest Cascades region of Washington. See the Get in — by car section of Northwest Cascades region article for details.
The North Cascade Loop is a very scenic drive that loops around this area through pristine mountains, grand rivers, crystalline lakes and scenic islands. If you can't do the loop, at least go as far as Mazama (eastbound) or the visitor center near Newhalem (westbound) on State Hwy 20. Note the most spectacular parts of the drive are not where the highway is sandwiched between the two halves of the national park, but further east in the Okanogan National Forest. Washington Pass is the highest point at 5,477 feet. As the park has virtually no roads, non-hikers should stay on the main highway unless clearly marked signs are visible (such as the visitor center which is about a mile to the south).
Hiking, fishing, white water rafting, skiing, snowshoeing, boating