North Cascades National Park
|North Cascades National Park|
|Location||Whatcom, Skagit, and Chelan counties, Washington, USA|
|Nearest city||Sedro Woolley|
|Area||504,781 acres (204,278 ha)|
|Established||October 2, 1968|
|Visitors||19,208 (in 2011)|
|Governing body||National 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 
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. 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:
- Redoubt (Mount Redoubt)
- Nooksack (Mount Shuksan)
- Sulphide (Mount Shuksan)
- Challenger (Mount Challenger)
- Inspiration (Eldorado Peak)
- McAllister (Eldorado Peak)
- Neve (Snowfield Peak)
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.
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.
Extreme 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 in the number of plant species recorded. Over 1,630 vascular plant species have been identified, and estimates of non-vascular and fungal species could more than double this number for total plant species in the North Cascades. The park contains an estimated 236,000 acres (960 km2) of old-growth forests.
The park also has a rich diversity of animals, including bald eagles, wolves, grizzly bears, mountain lions, lynx, moose, wolverines and black bears. 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. Examples of amphibian species occurring in the park include the western toad (Bufo boreas) and the rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa).
The biodiversity of the area is threatened by global climate change and invasive exotic plant species. These exotic plants thrive by utilizing manmade structures such as roads and trails. These invasive plants include the diffuse knapweed (Centaurea diffusa) and reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea).
See also 
- Skagit Valley Provincial Park
- Mount Baker Wilderness
- Glacier Peak Wilderness
- Pasayten Wilderness
- Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness
- Retreat of glaciers since 1850
- North Cascades
- National Register of Historic Places listings in North Cascades National Park
- "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- Glacier Retreat in the Pacific Northwest North Cascades National Park
- "Plants". United States National Park Service: North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Retrieved January 13, 2009.
- 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
- Kefauver, Karen (15 Sept. 2010). "North Cascades National Park: Wildlife". GORP. Orbitz. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- 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".
- "Non-native plants". North Cascades National Park. National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
- Post, A.; D. Richardson, W.V. Tangborn, and F.L. Rosselot (1971). "Inventory of glaciers in the North Cascades, Washington". USGS Prof. Paper. 705-A: A1–A26.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: North Cascades National Park|
- Official site: North Cascades National Park
- Education: North Cascades Institute
- Glacier Research: North Cascade Glacier Climate Project reports
- Conservation: The North Cascades Conservation Council
- Expansion project: The American Alps Legacy Project seeks to expand and complete the Park as envisioned by its founders