A visit to Washington State’s North Cascades is unlike any other mountain location in the United States. Resembling the pristine wilderness found in many of Canada’s mountain ranges, a drive along the North Cascades Highway, or WA State Route 20, is a way to travel back to a time when mountains weren’t marked with so many businesses, resorts, and signs of civilization. Though there is lodging in the North Cascades, much of it matches the area’s low key approach, seeing this Alpine haven as a commodity of beauty rather than money.
A drive along the North Cascades Scenic Highway is, itself, a slow way to cross the state. Interstate 90 and Highway 2 offer far more efficient routes between Seattle and Spokane, but you’ll never forget your journey if you head north to the Skagit Valley area before cutting across to Eastern Washington (or head north to Newport, WA before cutting west if coming from Spokane). The North Cascades Highway is renowned for winding around vast alpine towers, beckoning your car to stop for North Cascades hiking, and providing encounters with local wildlife. While a visit to the North Cascades is encouraged at all times of the year, the North Cascades Scenic Highway is closed at times due to snow conditions, so check before you make your winter getaway in the North Cascades, or take Highway 2 to visit Leavenworth, Stevens Pass, Chelan, and other North Cascades destinations in the winter.
As you are enjoying the National Park and other locations along the North Cascades Highway, be sure to know how to best enjoy, or best avoid, the local wildlife. Though encounters with predators are somewhat rare, the wildlife here is still very wild, including wolves, mountain lions, lynx, grizzly bears, black bears, moose, and large amounts of many kinds of deer. While enjoying camping or North Cascades Hiking, please take the precautions necessary, and follow the “Leave No Trace” guidelines for hikers, backpackers, and campers in the North Cascades—to keep the area pristine, simply don’t leave anything behind.
If North Cascades hiking is the goal of your trip, you won’t be disappointed if you visit North Cascades National Park. The Cascade Pass Trail offers breathtaking views, a variety of ecosystems, and an overall great hike. This old Native American trail is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Pacific Northwest. There are miles and miles of trails available for North cascades hiking, so ask the locals and refer to the North Cascades National Park trail maps. Backpacking & hiking is especially popular here, so brave the elements and rough it by living out of a backpack as part of your Washington vacation.
Lodging & Cabins in Cascade Mountains
Lodging & Cabins in Cascade Mountains Image: Icicle Village Resort
The North Cascades Scenic Highway, or State Route 20, offers several options for lodging aside from camping. For example, on the west side of the Cascades is the Blue Sky Outfitters Guest House in Marblemount, Washington. A nice, simple bed and breakfast style lodging in the North Cascades, Blue Sky Outfitters also offers popular white water rafting trips as well. For another great taste of lodging in the North Cascades, try the Cascade Mountain Inn at mile marker 83 on SR-20 if a quaint country bed and breakfast is what you’re looking for. If you’re North Cascades lodging needs call for a larger resort setting, visit Leavenworth, a Bavarian-style village in the North Cascades. The Aspen Suites at the Icicle Village Resort is a great place to stay, with nice rooms and excellent service. If you find yourself in Winthrop, try the Sun Mountain Lodge. Their restaurant is excellent, and the views from the hotel are stunning. Even more appealing to many visitors are cabins in the Cascade Mountains. There are many of them, from simple and rustic to quite grand. They all offer the opportunity for privacy and independence.
Washington’s North Cascades has plenty to offer – a scenic highway, a great National Park, and fun places to stay along the way make this one of the most memorable Washington State getaways available.