Welcome to the North Cascades National Park! Located in the NW corner of Washington state, the Cascade mountain range ‘cascades’ down from Canada, through Washington and into Oregon. The Cascades create the distinct landscapes Washington is known for. West of the Cascades, the climate is what you think of when you think of the Pacific NW. Dense green forests with towering trees, fern forest floors and cool misty air. The temperature generally stays 50/30F in the winter and 70/80-50/60F in the summer. Although, this past summer WA saw record highs into the low 100s!! It’s very rare for homes to have AC because it generally stays so cool in the summer, so heatwaves can be quite dangerous here. East of the Cascades is a completely different story. The climate is much warmer, dry and flat. This is where the majority of the state’s farms and wineries are located. The colors change from green and vivid to tans, browns and gold.
North Cascades National Park is located at the northern part of the Cascades, very close to Canada. There are beautiful lakes, like Diablo Lake and Ross Lake, set among a stunning mountain landscapes. There are plenty of places to hike and kayak as you explore the park.
We arrived at the park and started looking for a spot to park the RV. Mid-September is considered ‘off season’. We checked Goodell Creek, Colonial Creek and Newhalem campgrounds for a spot and found that all but one was closed for the season! Goodell was open but full. So, we backtracked down the Rockport, WA and stayed at Glacier Peak resort and winery, which was a bit farther from the lake but had full hook-ups which was nice.
The next day we set out exploring. We drove up to Ross Lake, which was a gorgeous drive. We started out by hiking the Ross Dam Trail, a 2.6 mi out and back trek downhill to the dam and uphill on the return. On the AllTrails app the trail ends at the road but keep going! The best part is the walk down and ON TO the dam. The walk out onto the dam was epic! Once we walked out of trees and onto the damn the wind nearly blew us away. We had great view of the mountains and river below. Looking down off the edge of the dam was terrifying and amazing all at once. We were so high up. As we walked we saw a sign that said “No swimming. Spill ways will open with no warning.” Ha! You wouldn’t catch us in a million years swimming there. Could you imagine being flushed down the drain when you’re out for a swim!?
Our next hike was Thunder Knob trail, 4.6mi moderate, that brings you up and around Diablo Lake. It was a great hike that started in dense, mossy, misty, mushroomy forest. As we hiked uphill, the forest became a bit drier and less dense. At the top were some great views of Diablo lake below. Very enjoyable!
We ended the day in the most unexpected and fabulous of ways. We found a Korean restaurant (Miga Asian Cuisine) in Concrete, WA that was a-mazing. Bulgogi, seafood pancake, yakisoba and the most delicious tea called Adlay tea. Yum. Great way to end the day.
The next day we drove south to Lake Chelan, which is a beautiful town set along the lake. There are gorgeous homes, resorts and marinas dotting the shoreline. We drove past a cute downtown area and into the state park, which was one of the prettiest state parks we’ve seen. It was set right on the lake and had great spots to camp. We set up the RV (full hook ups in a SP!) and headed down to the lake. I took our inflatable kayak for a spin and had a great time paddling around, listening to my music, enjoying the day.
After paddling in the lake, we went for a hike on the Little Bear Trail – Bitterbrush Loop to get a better view from above. There was a sign at the trailhead that read, “Large mountain lion seen”. I mean, just mountain lion would have been enough. Why add large? And when?? I made clinking noises with my water bottle the whole hike but I’m not sure that made any difference. Besides being on high alert, the hike was pretty nice with good views of the lake. At the end of the day we treated ourselves with some frozen yogurt, ending a great visit to the Cascades!