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Directions to North Cascades National Park

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Map of North Cascades National Park

Map of North Cascades National Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people visit North Cascades National Park by car, some choose to enter the park by bicycle which is great and very environmentally friendly, and there are some public transport options although these are a bit few and far between. Driving to North Cascades National Park is by far the most popular option.

Driving to North Cascades National Park

The leading access point to North Cascades National Park and the popular Ross Lake Recreation Area is via the State Route 20 Corridor, (SR20).

State Route 20 connects with the Interstate 5 from the west, at Burlington (Exit 230), and with US Route 97 from the east at Okanogan plus at State Route 153 at Twisp. The route from Ross Dam Trailhead to Lone Fir Campground is routinely closed between November and April due to the very real risk of avalanches.

The only access road to Ross Lake shoreline is the Silver-Skagit Road on the way to Hozomeen, a gravel road running for 37 miles which joins with BC Hwy 1 close to Hope, British Columbia (Exit 168).

There is access to Mount Shukshan and the Picket Range for hikers and climbers via SR 542 to the east of Bellingham, plus the Baker Lodge Road just to the northwest of Concrete.

The Lake Chelan National Recreation Area and Stehekin do not have car access. These areas can be reached only by passenger ferry or aircraft, which is available on US Route 97 at Chelan. There’s also a passenger shuttle service at the Stehekin Valley.

Hikers can access Stehekin from the Cascade Pass trailhead which is along the Cascade River Road, this is a gravel road. Hikers can access the Pacific Crest Trail southbound from SR 20 close to the Rainy Pass picnic area, or from Eagle Creek, South Creek, War Creek or Gilbert trailheads which are located along the Twisp River Road.

It sure is beautiful, although I’m not a great fan of those time lapse videos, I mean, you do get to see lots of great scenery in a few short minutes but I start feeling nauseous after a couple of minutes and have to pause to give my eyes a rest.

North Cascades National Park by Public Transport

Unlike many of the more remote national parks in the United State, North Cascades National Park, many of the communities surrounding the park have great connections with both national and regional transport systems, not to mention the local ones. That said, direct access to North Cascades National Park is very limited, so the chances are you’ll have to hire a rental car from your bus stop, airport or train station.

Flying to North Cascades National Park

The closest major airport to North Cascades National Park is Seattle Tacoma International Airport, close to Seattle. There’s also a limited commercial service available to Wenatchee, and you can access Chelan and Lake Chelan National Recreational Area by a floatplane from Chelan Seaplanes.

North Cascades National Park by Train

There’s a twice daily service to Mount Vernon Station from both Vancouver and Seattle BC provided by Amtrak Cascades. Both the east and the westward Empire Builder serve Wenatchee.

North Cascades National Park by Bus

There’s transport along the Interstate 5 – Highway 90 corridor from Greyhound in the west of Washington, plus the British Columbia Lower Mainland and Wenatchee on US 2, central Washington. From Wenatchee you can hop onto a Link Transit bus to the passenger ferry for Stehekin at Chelan dock. There’s also a shuttle available to the camps, lodges and trailheads in the Stehekin Valley from the Stehekin Landing.

 

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