Photo Gallery: Hiking and Backpacking in the North Cascades National Park Complex
By Michael Lanza
On my first trip to North Cascades National Park, I was sure I’d found heaven. The hard-earned views of a sea of jagged spires and snow- and ice-covered peaks stretching as far as you could see instantly cemented the place as one of my favorite mountain ranges. I’ve returned many times, backpacking, climbing, ski mountaineering, and dayhiking and backpacking with my family. But not many hikers and backpackers know much about Washington’s North Cascades, one of America’s least-visited national parks. I think the gallery of photos below from my various trips there will persuade you to put this park high on your list.
The North Cascades National Park complex includes the park itself—nearly 700,000 acres, 93 percent of which is designated as the Stephen Mather Wilderness—as well as the adjoining Ross Lake and Lake Chelan national recreation areas. Ecosystems range from virgin rainforest of giant cedars, hemlocks, and Douglas firs, to sub-alpine meadows carpeted in wildflowers, and alpine areas hosting about 60 percent of all the glaciers in the Lower 48. Waterfalls pour off cliffs.
Few mountain ranges compare for the ruggedness, raw beauty, and remoteness and solitude of the dayhiking and wilderness backpacking here.
Check out all of my stories about the North Cascades, including “Exploring the ‘American Alps:’ The North Cascades,” and watch for my upcoming feature story about a five-day, 80-mile backpacking trip a friend and I took through the park and the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. The broader North Cascades region also includes the magnificent Glacier Peak Wilderness to the south of the park, and the Pasayten Wilderness to the north.
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