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North Cascades National Park

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North Cascades National Park is located in the northernmost part of central Washington, United States.  The park covers an area of 788.4 square miles (2,042 sq km) making it the largest of the three national parks in the state, Mount Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park.

Affectionately known as the “American Alps,” the Cascades features astounding mountains that dramatically rise above the forested valleys below.  The park is renowned for the rugged and jagged mountain summits.

The Cascades have the largest glacial system in the lower 48 contiguous United States.  This gives way to the headwaters for hundreds of rivers and creeks. There are just over 310 glaciers spread across the park boundaries.  Boston Glacier is the largest covering an area of 2.7 square miles (7 sq km).  The glacial runoff often turns the rivers and creeks a turquoise color adding to the stunning landscapes. 

The valleys and foothills of the range are highly forested. The park features the greatest biodiversity of flora over any other national park in the United States. There are over 500 lakes and ponds across the mountainous terrain.

Good Mountain is the highest point in the park with a summit of 9,220 feet (2,810 m).  There are several mountains that reach over or just under 9,000 feet (2,700 m):

  • Buckner Mountain – 9,114 feet (2,778 m)
  • Mount Logan – 9,087 feet (2,770 m)
  • Black Peak – 8,970 feet (2,730 m)
  • Boston Peak – 8,894 feet (2,711 m)
  • Eldorado Peak – 8,868 feet (2,703 m)
  • Forbidden Peak – 8,815 feet (2,687 m)

The Southern Picket Range contains 21 summits that reach heights over 7,500 feet (2,300 m).  The North Cascades of the national park is a backpackers and climbers paradise.  Most of the exploration requires multiday exploration through pristine wilderness.

The varying forests, meadows, and mountain ecosystems are home to 75 different mammalian species.  Some of the popular predator species include black bear, bobcat, cougar, coyote, lynx, mink, river otter, and the timber wolf.  Bighorn sheep, elk, moose, and mountain goats are some of the larger species that people really enjoy seeing.

The bald eagle and the golden eagle are two of the most majestic of the 200 plus species of birds that nest or migrate through the park. 


The North Cascades is the epitome of rugged mountainous wilderness.  One of the highlights is the ability to experience such splendid nature in the solitude that is not afforded in other national parks in the same way.  This solitude along with the ruggedness of these mountains attracts hikers, climbers, and mountaineers from around the world.

Mount Shuksan

Mount Shuksan is the second tallest summit in the park with the peak reaching a height of 9,131 feet (2,783 m).  It is one of the easier massive summits to experience and one of the most frequently photographed summits.

North Cascades National Park Trails

North Cascades features over 400 miles (640 km) of hiking trails within the park boundaries.  Parts of the cross country, Pacific Crest Trail and the Pacific Northwest Trail, trails pass through parts of the national park.

All campgrounds must be accessed by hiking and backpacking.  There are no roads that access any of the campgrounds which is a unique feature of the park compared to other national parks in the United States.

North Cascades Highlights

  • The rugged mountains of the American Alps
  • Pristine wilderness with remote exploration
  • Mount Shuksan

Park Map