Posts tagged: North Cascades National Park
OUTDOOR TRAVEL — After finding a 12-foot deep avalanche along a 150-foot stretch of highway below Liberty Bell Mountain this morning, the state Department of Transportation has decided to keep the North Cascades Highway closed for the winter, according to the Associated Press.
The state temporarily closed the mountain pass between Mazama and Newhalem on Sunday afternoon due to heavy snow and high winds. Road crews went back to assess whether the road could be safely reopened today, and determined it could not, said DOT spokesman Jeff Adamson.
He said other avalanche chutes along the highway were filled with snow and unstable.
The highway closes every winter due to avalanche danger. Most years, the highway closes sometime in November, although it remained open into early December several years in its 40-year history. Last year, it closed for the season on Nov. 19.
This year the highway — a gateway to North Cascades National Park — reopened April 16, weeks earlier than last year because of a thinner snow pack.
OUTDOORS ACCESS — The Washington Department of Transportation says the North Cascades Highway is reopening at 10 a.m. this morning.
It was closed last week by severe mudslides near Rainy Pass.
Several businesses along the scenic route winding its way through the North Cascades National Park reported slower business as a result of the closure last week. Road workers using heavy equipment worked last week to remove about 30,000 cubic feet of rocks and trees in the roadway moved by mountain slides caused by heavy rain.
During the height of tourist season, generally falling in August and September, roughly 2,000 vehicles travel along the highway daily.
NATIONAL PARKS — While more than 30 million visitors flock to America’s 10 most popular national parks, Country magazine took the road less traveled to visit the “Hidden Gems” for a special photo section in the June-July issue on what the editors call “the 10 most beautiful, least crowded parks in the national park system.
North Cascades National Park in northcentral Washington is on the list.
Despite the breathtaking alpine terrain, Washington’s North Cascades National Park remains virtually deserted compared with America’s marquee national parks. Why?
Location plays a part. The park’s most famous feature, Mount Shuksan, isn’t its most impressive peak; it’s just the most impressive peak visible from Mount Baker Highway. Countless mountains of equal caliber remain unknown except among hikers and climbers willing to blaze their own trails.
Precipitation matters, too. Heavy snow mantles the higher elevations in radiant white, while rains nourish the dense forest that cloaks the lower slopes, making them impenetrable to the hesitant hiker.
Other parks on the list include:
PUBLIC LANDS — North Cascades National Park is the second-least visited of the 58 major national parks in the United States, according to Ranger Charles Beall, acting superintendent for the park. Only Isle Royale, an island in Lake Superior, draws fewer visitors per year, he said.
In 2011, North Cascades National Park had 19,208 visitors, according to National Park statistics. The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, one of the most visited parks, had more than 15 million. Olympic National Park had nearly 3 million.
Supporters of the American Alps Legacy project want to would enlarge North Cascades Park by roughly one-third, adding 237,702 acres to the total.
They say it would add more protection and stature to the park on both sides of U.S. Highway 2.
But many people are skeptical, noting that there's little money in the federal budget for developing the park, it could restrict hunting and even hiking with dogs.
BACKPACKING — A group of Western Washington University students found plenty of snow-free landscape for backpacking and camping up the Stehekin Valley from Lake Chelan last week.
Portions of the Pacific Crest Trail in North Cascades National Park were snow-free and easy cruising, they said.
But as the photo above shows, they didn't have to go too high to find snow still clogging the routes.
Be patient out there.
NATIONAL PARKS — Managing a 21-room lodge can’t be easy anywhere, but would it be be more enjoyable in paradise?
Check out this story on the National Park Service search for someone to run the Stehekin resort at the wilderness end of Lake Chelan in North Cascades National Park.