North Cascades National Park
Established in 1968, North Cascades National Park covers an area of more than 500,000 acres featuring numerous mountains and a wide range of ecosystems from temperate rainforests to dry ponderosa pine forests. As its name indicates, it is part of the North Cascades Range, which extends from southern British Columbia to northern California. It is adjacent to national forests and wilderness areas and is rich in biodiversity. So far, 1600 species of plants have been identified and efforts to identify plants and animals are ongoing. There are several visitor centers. The one on the map is the North Cascades Visitor Center, which is only open from May to October and next to the Highway 20 which traverses the park. It features multimedia exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the park and surrounding region, a theater, and interpretive hiking trails. Hiking, backpacking, camping, and biking are some of the activities visitors can do at the park. Information about these and other activities can be found at that visitor centers. It is important to note that most of the park is pristine wilderness, so it is not possible to drive to a campground; visitors must hike in to camp.
Backstory and Context
European explorers and fur trappers first arrived in the area in the 1700s. Fur trading continued into the 1800s, but others made attempts at mining and logging. Gold was found in the 1850s, which started a gold rush that lasted into the 1870s. The rush came when silver was discovered in 1892. Mining proved to be very difficult and expensive. The rugged terrain made it costly but mining did continue until the 1950s (WWI and II helped spurr mining efforts). Logging began in the 1860s but it had the same problems. As a result, little of the park has been logged, which is one reason why there are hardly any roads in the park. That said, three large dams were built in the 20th century. The landscape made farming virtually impossible so other settlers tried their hand at business, becoming innkeepers and shopkeepers for the miners and loggers.
Photos: National Park Service