Jagged snow-dusted peaks, glaciers, waterfalls and shadowy valleys compete for attention in North Cascades National Park. Ice-chilled Ross Lake spills over into Canada at its northeast edge, a popular destination for canoers and kayakers while Lake Chelan, traversed by passenger ferry, noses into the south tail of the park, stretching down past national forest and wilderness areas to the eponymous town. Farther up and in, the landscape turns dramatically rugged, a breath-taking outdoor playground for those seeking steep climbs, remote treks or some face time with silver-spun waterfalls.
Traversed by 386 miles of hiking trails and dotted with designated back-country campsites, North Cascades National Park also serves up plenty of solitude along with its mountain scenery thanks to its location and lack of interior roads. There are several peaks in the 6,000-foot range to bag, some of them part of longer trail systems, others more straight-forward day-trip destinations. For short (albeit rewarding) and serious uphill hikes, choose from a selection of trails accessible from Highway 20 and winding roads leading off into the mountains.
The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail crosses through the Liberty Bell Roadless Area and Pasaytan Wilderness before ending in British Columbia, the former popular with climbers who think Cascade rock quality, hikers after some time by the region's lakes or subalpine meadows and extreme skiers stopping through for a shot at dramatic snow-dusted slopes.
There are a number of campgrounds that can be reached by road, although some of the more remote locations involve long stretches of gravel.
North Cascades National Park is 113 miles east of Seattle.