North Cascades National Park in Washington

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Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park

Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park has a northern and a southern district or unit, separated by Ross Lake National Recreation Area. Of the three parks that make up the North Cascades National Park Complex, the national park is the largest but least visited. Several national wilderness areas and British Columbia parkland also adjoin the National Park making a huge protected area north of Seattle.

The vast majority of visitors come to Ross Lake National Recreation Area which is easily accessible on Washington State Route 20, also known as the North Cascades Highway, and the only road which bisects the park complex.

Map of Ross Lake National Recreation Area at North Cascades National Park

Map of Ross Lake National Recreation Area bisecting North Cascades National Park into two halfs.

Download PDF Map of North Cascades National Park Complex

Things to do in the North Cascades

Outdoor activities, scenic vistas, and educational opportunities abound. Watch birds and wildlife. Go for a horseback ride. Learn from an expert at a ranger talk or walk, or take a class at the North Cascades Institute's new Environmental Learning Center.

One of the most popular activities is hiking. From accessible trails and short, scenic strolls to steep, grueling hikes that will make your legs burn but your heart sing, there is a trail here that will suit your mood. The extreme gradients of climate and topography contribute to an impressive diversity of habitat and species. To navigate the incredibly steep elevational relief, the nearly 400 miles of trails often follow the long, forested, valley bottoms, then switchback up to the steep passes or ridges. (Hiking Guide on NPS Website)

View of Arnica and Patterson Mountain in North Cascades National Park

View of Arnica and Patterson Mountain in North Cascades National Park

Of course going out on the water on the large lakes is also a popular activity. Kayaking, canoeing, and motor boating are options, pulling an inner tube or skier is prohibited. The Ross Lake Resort rents motorboats, kayaks, canoe, and other equipment for Ross Lake and limited paddle rentals are available at Stehekin on Lake Chelan. Ramps and launches are located at Gorge Lake, Diablo Lake, Lake Chelan and the north end of Ross Lake at Hozomeen.

Remote Village of Stehekin

The Lake Chelan dock for the remote town of Stehekin

The Lake Chelan dock for the remote town of Stehekin

Those seeking a peaceful vacation home base can ride the Lady of the Lake boat to the historic and unique town of Stehekin. The town's name is aptly based on a Salishan word meaning "the way through" and you can only reach it by foot, boat, or plane. Stehekin offers vistors an escape from the hustle of the modern day world. Nestled at the headwaters of Lake Chelan, the third deepest lake in America, the Stehekin community lives life a little slower.

Getting to North Cascades National Park from Olympic

4-hour drive northeast from the north or south entrance

Take our Vancouver to Olympic Road Trip including North Cascades.

Need a Map of North Cascades National Park? Buy the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map Pack for Washington National Parks including Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades at The map includes clearly marked trails and points of interest such as scenic views, campgrounds, trailheads, boat launches, picnic sites, ranger stations and more printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.


Dungeness Spit.

Dungeness Sea Spit north of Olympic National Park

The longest natural sand spit in the United States, extending 5 miles into the Strait of Juan De Fuca. It's grown about 15 feet/year for the past 120 years.

A view looking north from the south end of Hood Canal in Washington State. The Olympic Mountain can be seen in the distance.

Beachcombing Hoodsport on the Edge of Olympic National Park

Hoodsport is the gateway to Olympic National Park, Lake Cushman, and a scenic point for hiking, fishing and kayaking on the north fork of the Skokomish River.

Mt Rainier pond reflection

Mount Rainier National Park

Locals call it The Mountain—and once you see it towering, it’s clear the 14,410-footer owns the title.

Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park

48 Hours in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is unique in that it is home to four of the world’s few remaining intact temperate rainforests, a breathtaking coastline and incredible alpine peaks.

Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park

This strikingly blue, deep (624 feet) lake sits in the forest 18 miles west of Port Angeles.

The Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park

4 Rainforests of Olympic National Park

The west-side area of this national park is one of the best places in the world to see a temperate rainforest ecosystem.

The view from the suspension bridge on the Staircase Rapids Trail in Olympic National Park

Staircase Rapids Loop Hike in Olympic National Park

Wander through an old-growth forest and see stunning rapids on this 2.1-mile easy hike.

Sunset on the Pacific coast in the Kalaloch area of Olympic National Park.

7 Romantic Things to Do in the Olympic National Park Area

Spend a romantic weekend, celebrate Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, or just spend time together in the Olympic National Park area.

Map of Olympic National Park

Download the Official Olympic National Park Map PDF

This map shows the park roads and entrances, along with lakes and major trails. The map also shows general tide warnings of beach areas.