North Cascades Highway

A great way to see the most remote, northernmost areas of Eastern Washington, the North Cascades Highway takes you on a scenic tour from north Puget Sound to the Columbia River valley's high desert. North Cascades hiking is like trekking in the Swiss Alps. The glaciers, lakes, and relative isolation makes a North Cascades vacation into a one-of-a-kind alpine experience. Remote mountain settlements, scenic vistas, and miles of North Cascades National Parks await your exploration.

The North Cascade Loop starts in the busy port town of Everett, with is north of Seattle and can be reached by driving 28 miles north on I-5. Everett is a great place to start your North Cascades vacation, since it has all the fun you want in a city without having to go all the way to Seattle. Here, there are great local microbreweries, great places to eat with views of the water, and all the necessities for your entertainment and comfort during your Washington State travel. You can stroll along the waterfront and wander in and out of the shops, have a delicious lunch nearby, or take a cruise of the Puget Sound area and enjoy unsurpassed views of the mountains.

The North Cascades highway meanders alongside the Skykomish River as it tumbles down the western part of the Cascades. There are scenic trails and waterfalls along this stretch of the drive that are great for enjoying on a picnic lunch. Scattered amongst the small logging towns along the way are hiking spots, fishing areas, and great trails for the best North Cascades hiking. Rock climbers love visiting the town of Index; a lots of its tourism revenue is due to climbers there to scale the nearly 6,000 foot Mount Index. Once an old railroad town, Skykomish is now a base for outdoor enthusiasts on a North Cascades vacation.

Next, you will pass the Stevens Pass, which is just one of many of the ski resorts in the area. After you cross the Cascade Mountains, the climate changes from wet forested areas to dry and open areas. Lake Wenatchee has the best of both worlds, with a nice beach and swimming areas, boating and fishing.

At the crest of Stevens Pass, you will see sweeping views of the forested country to the west. The crest is the sight of a busy winter downhill and cross-country ski resort. As you cross the Cascades, you move from a wet, lush, maritime climate to the drier open woodlands of the east slope. There are also snow sports like snowmobiling and cross country skiing, so this area has everything you could expect in Washington State travel.

This area where the mountain makes its descent is one of the best areas for North Cascades hiking, since you are at the crest of the mountains at a high elevation. You can see the best views of this valley, which is ringed by stunning peaks. You can access the North Cascades National Park through these trails, which are surrounded by colorful wildflowers in the late part of the summer. The famous Pacific Crest trail takes you from the road deep into the North Cascades National Park, which is not directly accessible by the road.

Be sure to stop at the North Cascades National Parks Visitor Center at Newhalem to learn more about the areas hiking and camping areas and permits you might need, as well as the best places around to get supplies.

From the scenic drives to the immense vistas, a North Cascades vacation brings you close to the most remote and impressive places you could stop at. You should include a visit to the North Cascades in your Washington State travel plans. A visit to the area is sure to be one of the best parts of your trip.

Washington Cascades
Washington Cascades

The Cascade Mountain range extends up into Canada and down to Mt. Lassen in California, though only the stretch above Mt. Rainier in Washington is considered part of the "northern cascades." There are many scenic and picturesque stretches of road to put your camera to good use, especially the stretch near Mt. St. Helens in southern Washington.

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