This is a landscape where the sandman went to get the schematics for dreams. North Cascades National Park is devastatingly beautiful. If you are a fan of the writer Jack Kerouac you may know that he spent a lot of time in the park working as a Forest Service fire lookout on Desolation Peak. On a mid-October trip the weather was not ripe for climbing the peak, I’ll have to catch it next time around. The park is expansive and driving throughout the roads are a real treat. There are the greenest lakes you have ever seen,
short spur hikes to take leading to little destinations, and so many magnificent roadside waterfalls.
Oh, and of course, the mountains. The formidable, jagged, towering mountains.
You’ll want to stop off at many different viewpoints, but one you simply cannot miss is Washington Pass Overlook. As we drove into the depths of the park, I realized why Washington is nicknamed the Evergreen State. I couldn’t believe how lush and pure the roadside was.The snow started to come down lightly, dusting the tips of the trees, pure magic. We reached the overlook, the furthest point of the gigantic park we felt comfortable going to with our gas tank and bundled up. Liberty Bell Mountain although partially obscured was breathtaking.
There is a short walk to take, because the parking lot is just breaking the surface. This vista will touch you. It will inspire you. Perhaps that is why there are panels of poetry, to try to put into words how a valley like this makes you feel. As if there could never being anything to top that sight, we made our way to Cascade Pass. It isn’t as simple as it sounds. There is a long jaw clenching nerve wracking drive down a long and narrow dirt road. You need to make sure you have enough time in the day so that you don’t have to drive it in the dark. As worrisome as the road was for me, it was also one of the most lovely drives I have ever been on and what it lead to is almost indescribable. Glaciers,ribbons of waterfalls,
terrifyingly gorgeous mountains,
and you’re at the epicenter of it all. Take the switchbacks up through the elegant woods
to find what waits for only the adventurous souls out in the middle of nowhere.
There is nothing else quite like this park. It is quite possibly the most wild and dazzling place I have ever been. I understand why Kerouac was drawn to these mountains, out of all the places in the world to wander – this is a truly rejuvenating land. Try driving home at sunset.
It’s hard to say goodbye, but this is one park that is worth visiting again and again.