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  • Writer's pictureMick McMurray

North Cascades National Park

Updated: 5 days ago

Diablo Lake with turquoise water
North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park is a breathtaking destination located in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest. The park boasts a stunning landscape of rugged mountain peaks, magnificent glaciers, and an abundance of wildlife that captivates visitors from all over the world. Despite our limited time in the park, we were able to experience its beauty and charm firsthand. Diablo Lake is a stunning must-see.

During our visit, we stayed at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, a serene campground nestled in the small town of Rockport, Washington. The park offers amenities such as water and electricity, as well as a convenient dump station for RVs. Located just 13 miles from the park entrance, the campground provides easy access to the wonders of North Cascades National Park. We stayed here for 5 days.

Our trip was made even more special by the time we spent with our friends, who live in the area. We spent a few days at the campground catching up and exploring the local attractions together. Our friends showed us around the town of Concrete, Washington, which proudly boasts of being the "Center of the Known Universe". Thanks to their local knowledge, we were able to discover hidden gems and experience the area like true locals.

During our visit to North Cascades National Park, we made our way up to Newhalem, a quaint unincorporated town located within the park's boundaries. We enjoyed exploring the town, taking in its unique charm and character. We even had the chance to do some shopping, which was a fun way to experience the local culture.

While in Newhalem, we couldn't resist walking across the bridge over the Skagit River at the Gorge Powerhouse. The view from the bridge was breathtaking, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover a hidden gem called Ladder Creek Falls located behind the powerhouse. This stunning area features shaded walkways and benches, making it a great spot to relax and take in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Our journey through North Cascades National Park led us to Diablo Lake Vista Point, a must-see destination that exceeded our expectations. As we arrived, we found a spacious parking lot with convenient restrooms and a picturesque picnic area that made it a great spot to take a break.

Once we reached the overlook of the lake, we were awe-struck by the breathtaking sight of the vibrant turquoise water. This unique color is caused by the reflection of sunlight on rock particles in the water. It was truly a sight to behold, and we felt fortunate to have witnessed it.

Despite the popularity of Diablo Lake Vista Point, we found it to be relatively uncrowded compared to other national parks we have visited. In fact, other than the town of Newhalem, this was the busiest place we encountered in the park. Nonetheless, the sheer beauty of the vista made it a worthwhile visit.

After spending an enjoyable evening with our friends, we bid them farewell and the next morning set out to explore more of North Cascades National Park. Our first stop was the Diablo Lake area, where we embarked on a hike along the Thunder Knob Trail.

The trail took us through a stunning wooded area, offering us different perspectives of Diablo Lake that we had not seen from Vista Point. Along the way, we came across several large boulders, providing the perfect resting spot to sit and appreciate the picturesque views.

We relished the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the natural beauty of the park and felt grateful for the chance to experience it firsthand. The Thunder Knob Trail was a highlight of our trip, and we highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area.

In conclusion, North Cascades National Park is a true gem of the Pacific Northwest that offers visitors an unforgettable experience. From its rugged mountain peaks and glaciers to its abundant wildlife, the park boasts a stunning landscape that captivates all who visit. Our time spent at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, the local town of Concrete, and exploring Newhalem and Diablo Lake Vista Point gave us a unique opportunity to experience the local culture and hidden gems of the area. The Thunder Knob Trail hike was a definite highlight of our trip, offering us an even deeper appreciation of the park's natural beauty. Despite our limited time, we were able to witness the awe-inspiring sights and sounds of North Cascades National Park and create cherished memories. We highly recommend this park to anyone looking for a breathtaking destination that truly showcases the beauty of nature.

Do you want to see the next stop on our trip? On to "Glacier National Park: A 3-Day Travel Guide"

Lorna’s Tips and Lessons

Wear a good hat and sunscreen. I grew up putting baby oil and cocoa butter on to get a good tan. Since having basal cancer several times on my face, I’m pretty good about wearing sunscreen and a hat but hate when it gets in my eyes. My son suggested this sunscreen for that very reason.


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