Nicknamed the “American Alps”, North Cascades National Park is one of the most rugged and remote national parks in the US. Filled with black bear, mountain goats and bald eagles, the park is also home to a historic hydroelectric dam. That said you just can’t beat the scenery in this northwestern gem, which ranges from jagged mountain peaks, evergreen forests and alpine meadows, to crystal-clear lakes and a collection of formidable glaciers.
- Don’t miss the Gorge Creek Falls Overlook, located along State Route 20, halfway between Newhalem and the Colonial Creek Campground. This unusual overlook features two grated footbridges that are located on each side of the highway, where visitors can look down and get a bird’s eye view of Gorge Creek Falls. Best of all, they are both wheelchair-accessible.
- The Happy Creek Forest Walk is a nice accessible trail, although it’s easy to miss the poorly marked turnoff. Start looking for it on the right as you head east on State Route 20, just past milepost 134; and don’t feel bad if you have to make a U-turn up the road and double back. There’s level access over to the .3-mile hard-packed dirt and boardwalk trail that meanders through the fir, cedar and hemlock forest, before it crosses over the cascading waters and loops back to the trailhead. This old growth forest is also a great place to escape the midday heat when the mercury rises.
- Located across from the Skagit Visitor Information Center in Newhalem, the Skagit General Store makes an interesting stop. The building dates back to 1922, when the store was established as an employee commissary for the workers on the Skagit Hydroelectric Project. Today it offers a good variety of general grocery items, snacks, sandwiches and delicious homemade Skagit fudge. It’s also the only place along the State Route 20 section of the park that offers anything to eat.