North Cascades Views Quiz: By Road or By Trail?
North Cascades National Park, located about three hours northeast of Seattle, is a surprisingly forgotten little corner of Washington state. Forgotten, because the other two national parks in the Seattle area — Olympic and Mount Rainier — ranked 7th and 18th in visitation, respectively, last year. North Cascades National Park ranked 54th. Surprising, because it is beautiful.
You know we love us a good underappreciated park. And, although much of the park was still inaccessible to us, North Cascades fits the bill.
We managed to time our visit to align perfectly with the road through the park opening. Perfect coincidence. We spent three days exploring what of the park was accessible and not snow-covered — hiking, camping for free (because the water in the campground was off) and enjoying the scenic drive through the higher elevations.
One thing we noticed as we made our way through the park is that the views from the road rivaled those from the low-country trails. Normally, we would suggest that you MUST hike to fully enjoy the beautiful parks, but with North Cascades, at least in the spring when high-country hiking is not accessible, we’re not so sure.
To prove our point, we thought we’d test your analysis skills. Can you guess which of the following pictures were taken right off the road from an overlook, and which required a bit of a hike? Answers are at the bottom, no cheating 🙂
5 (okay, this one is a gimme)
How’d you do?
Answers: 1: road (Diablo Lake Overlook), 2: trail (Thunder Knob), 3: road, 4: road, 5: road, 6: trail (Ross Lake Dam), 7: trail (Fourth Of July Camp Trail), 8: road, 9: road, 10: trail (Thunder Knob)
We read all the time about how our favorite national parks are being loved to death. Visitation is at an all-time high, support for certain parks is through the roof, and a lot of national attention is on the parks right now. We often think about what can be done to alleviate this stress on our most precious public land and the plants and animals who live in it. The best answer we have right now is to spread the love. Make it a priority to visit places you’ve never been before. Introduce yourself to a new favorite park. Find out what we mean when we talk about the beauty in the undersold.
And if you do nothing else in Washington this summer, take a drive (and a hike!) through North Cascades National Park.