North Cascades National Park

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North Cascades National Park
IUCN category Ib (wilderness area)
Neve Glacier North Cascades USGS.jpg
Map showing the location of North Cascades National Park
LocationWhatcom, Skagit, and Chelan counties, Washington, USA
Nearest citySedro Woolley
Coordinates48°28′59″N 120°54′41″W / 48.483086°N 120.911491°W / 48.483086; -120.911491Coordinates: 48°28′59″N 120°54′41″W / 48.483086°N 120.911491°W / 48.483086; -120.911491
Area504,781 acres (204,278 ha)[1]
EstablishedOctober 2, 1968
Visitors19,208 (in 2011)[2]
Governing bodyNational Park Service
 
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North Cascades National Park
IUCN category Ib (wilderness area)
Neve Glacier North Cascades USGS.jpg
Map showing the location of North Cascades National Park
LocationWhatcom, Skagit, and Chelan counties, Washington, USA
Nearest citySedro Woolley
Coordinates48°28′59″N 120°54′41″W / 48.483086°N 120.911491°W / 48.483086; -120.911491Coordinates: 48°28′59″N 120°54′41″W / 48.483086°N 120.911491°W / 48.483086; -120.911491
Area504,781 acres (204,278 ha)[1]
EstablishedOctober 2, 1968
Visitors19,208 (in 2011)[2]
Governing bodyNational Park Service

North Cascades National Park is a U.S. National Park located in the state of Washington. The park is the largest of the three National Park Service units that comprise the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Several national wilderness areas and British Columbia parkland adjoin the National Park. The park features rugged mountain peaks and protects portions of the North Cascades range.

Geography and geology[edit]

Glaciers[edit]

Looking toward Magic Mountain from Sahale Arm north of Cascade Pass. Yawning Glacier has retreated significantly since 1980.

In 1971, the park had 318 glaciers with an area of 117 km2 (Post et al., 1971), the most of any US park outside Alaska. All the glaciers in the park have retreated significantly from 1980 to 2005 and the rate is increasing. The recent warmer climate has led to more summer melting and more winter melting events, reducing winter snowpack. Several glaciers in the range have melted away in the last decade.[3] Boston Glacier, on the north slope of Boston Peak, is the largest glacier in the park with an area of 7 km2. The other large glaciers (with areas greater than 2.5 km2) are:

Lower Curtis Glacier in 2003 compared with 1985

Attractions[edit]

Nearly all of the national park is protected as the Stephen Mather Wilderness, so there are few maintained buildings and roads within the North and South units of the Park. The park is most popular with backpackers and mountain climbers. One of the most popular destinations in the park is Cascade Pass, which was used as a travel route by Native Americans. It can be accessed by a four-mile (6 km) trail at the end of a gravel road. The North and South Picket Ranges, Mount Triumph, as well as Eldorado Peak and the surrounding mountains, are popular with climbers due to glaciation and technical rock. Mount Shuksan, in the northwest corner of the park, is one of the most photographed mountains in the country and the second highest peak in the park 9,127 ft or 2,782 m.

map of the North Cascades National Park complex

Access[edit]

Although a couple of gravel roads open to the public enter the park (Cascade River Road beginning at Marblemount off HWY #20 and the Upper Stehekin Valley Road accessed from Stehekin via tour-boat from Chelan), most automobile traffic in the region travels on the North Cascades Highway (Washington State Route 20), which passes through the Ross Lake National Recreation Area.

The nearest large town on the west side of the park is Sedro-Woolley, Washington, while Winthrop lies to the east. Chelan is located at the southeastern end of Lake Chelan where east-side access to the NCNP from Stehekin serves the Eastern Washington communities.

Ecology[edit]

Variation in rock and soil types, exposure, slope, elevation, and rainfall is reflected in the diverse plant life. Eight distinctive life zones support thousands of different plant species in the North Cascades greater ecosystem. No other National Park surpasses North Cascades National Park's over 1,630 vascular plant species recorded. Estimates of non-vascular and fungal species could more than double the number of plant species in the North Cascades.[4] The park contains an estimated 236,000 acres (960 km2) of old-growth forests.[5]

The park also has a diversity of animal species, including bald eagle, grey wolf, grizzly bear, mountain lion, lynx, moose, wolverine, and black bear.[6] The park is home to 75 species of mammals and 200 species of birds that either pass through or use the North Cascades for a breeding area. There are also 11 species of fish on the west side of the Cascades.[6] Examples of amphibian species occurring in the park include the western toad (Bufo boreas) and the rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa).[7]

The biodiversity of the area is threatened by global climate change and invasive exotic plant species.[4] These exotic plants thrive by using man-made structures such as roads and trails.[4] These invasive plants include the diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa) and reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea).[8]

The Thornton Lakes fill glacier-carved basins near Mount Triumph

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Park Service.

  1. ^ "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  2. ^ "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  3. ^ Glacier Retreat in the Pacific Northwest North Cascades National Park
  4. ^ a b c "Plants". United States National Park Service: North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Retrieved January 13, 2009. 
  5. ^ Bolsinger, Charles L.; Waddell, Karen L. (1993). Area of old-growth forests in California, Oregon, and Washington. United States Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. Resource Bulletin PNW-RB-197 
  6. ^ a b Kefauver, Karen (15 Sep 2010). "North Cascades National Park: Wildlife". GORP. Orbitz. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Rawhouser, Ashley K.; Holmes, Ronald E.; Glesne, Reed S. (2009). "A Survey of Stream Amphibian Species Composition and Distribution in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, Washington State". 
  8. ^ "Non-native plants". North Cascades National Park. National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 

External links[edit]