Destinations Journal USA

Camping in North Cascades National Park

When a good friend suggested a camping trip in the North Cascades, it seemed like a great idea at the time. With my proposed departure date weeks in the future, I was excited about my first camping trip! As the trip got closer, I became increasingly anxious and unsure of my decision. What about bears? Would I really be able to live without electricity and showers?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I boarded my flight to Seattle with a massive backpack in tow. Not only was I nervous about the camping trip, but I’m also not a fan of flying – especially from the Southeastern US to the Pacific Northwest.

Like most things in life, the flight wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as I anticipated. On the contrary, it was actually quite enjoyable. I scored first class updates on both my flights and woke up from my bloody mary infused nap just in time to take in some scenic aerial views before landing.CAMPING FROM PLANE Camping 15 EDCamping 16 ED

The beautiful views continued after the flight. Once I touched down in Seattle, my friend and I made our way north to the North Cascades Scenic Highway. As someone who grew up in a rather flat region of North Carolina, I was blown away by the landscape. The 140-mile scenic byway is adorned with various lookout points offering a glimpse into what some refer to as the American Alps.Camping in North Cascades National ParkNorth Cascades Highway My favorite vantage points were those overlooking Ross and Diablo Lakes (Ross is teal; Diablo is turquoise).11873914_10200735667349820_900053264_n10332000244_e20b24d30c_z

There are several campgrounds within the North Cascades National Park. After scouring through Tripadvisor reviews and trying to determine availability, we settled on Newhalem Campground.

Unlike most of the other park campgrounds, Newhalem Campground has communal bathrooms with plumbing and running water. There is also a general store within walking distance, so we were not roughing it by any means. Camping 12 ED Camping 13 EDColonial Creek Campground was actually our first choice, but the lakefront spots are available only on  a first-come-first-serve basis. When we reached the campsite, it was packed! The campground’s lake backdrop was stunning, but the tents were basically an arms-length apart. While the lake views would have been nice, I appreciated that our campsite was more low-key.

For the more adventurous folks, backcountry camping sites are free and offer the best views if you’re up for the trek!

Camping Northern Cascades National ParkNorth Cascades National Park has a variety of trails for all levels of hikers. If you want to challenge yourself, the park offers several intense, high-incline hikes with some of the most rewarding views in the Pacific Northwest.

3184276898_d99aef96e1_oI have to admit that our weekend consisted mostly of s’mores and beer with a bit of hiking and cycling thrown in. Still, we manage to check out most of the trails near Newhalem Campground, which mostly edge the Skagit River.Newhalem Campground North Cascades National ParkAs a novice hiker, I enjoyed the Cascade Pass Trail. The 3.4-mile trek isn’t strenuous but the rewarding vistas are normally associated with more rigorous hikes!Cascade Pass North Cascades National ParkThe park also offers several launch points for kayaking, canoeing, and paddling. For a full list of trails and more information on the park’s recreational offerings, refer to this guide from the National Park Service.


My friend and I planned on returning later this summer to further explore North Cascades National Park, as well as its scenic bypass. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible this year due to uncontained wildfires blazing throughout the park.

This trip was (embarrassingly) my first visit to a US National Park…better late than never!  I left with a newfound appreciation for nature and for what I can accomplish with only my two feet. While I’m disappointed I won’t be able to return to North Cascades National Park this season, I look forward to exploring more of the US national parks.

*Feature photo by PTMurphus

You Might Also Like

11 Comments

  • Reply
    Marianna
    August 20, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Beautiful photos!!! This place looks amazing!!!

    xoxo

    Marianna | Lifestyle blog

  • Reply
    Joanne
    August 20, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    So SAD about the fire! Such a shame how that has been happening all year in dryer places D: Nature needs to be protected!

  • Reply
    Allison
    August 20, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I totally agree Joanne, it’s so unfortunate! I hope the park and those impacted can bounce back quickly!

  • Reply
    Eden
    August 20, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    What a beautiful park, looks like a lovely setting to go camping! You’re in for a treat if you get the chance to visit more US National Parks — so many gems out there!

    http://www.mintnotion.com

    • Reply
      Allison
      August 20, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      Thanks Eden, it was gorgeous! I hope I can check out some more soon!

  • Reply
    Britt
    August 23, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Really beautiful photos! This places looks amazing. Definitely adding it to my bucket list.

    • Reply
      Allison
      August 23, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      Thanks Britt, hope you get the chance to see it yourself!

  • Reply
    rebecca
    August 24, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    This just looks AMAZING!!!

  • Reply
    Yvonnelaura
    September 3, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Beautiful! I’ve been to Seattle before, but haven’t made it to this national park. Sounds like I need to go back:-)

    I would also be scared of the bears though;-)

  • Reply
    Brittany
    July 7, 2016 at 11:01 am

    This is great! Beautiful pictures! Did you pack all of your camping gear onto the plane or did you rent?

    • Reply
      Allison
      July 7, 2016 at 11:07 am

      Thanks, Brittany! The friend I camped with lives in Washington state and we used their gear.

    Leave a Reply