North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

RV Rental Dates


North Cascades National Park, situated in Washington state, is renowned for its stunning scenery, diverse ecosystems, and rich historical heritage. Established on October 2, 1968, the park covers approximately 504,781 acres of pristine wilderness, all with the aim of safeguarding the region’s distinctive natural and cultural treasures.

The historical and cultural significance of North Cascades National Park is deeply rooted in its past. Long before its designation as a national park, the land was home to Indigenous peoples, including the Paleo-Indian Native Americans and later the Skagit tribes. For thousands of years, these native communities relied on the abundant natural resources, such as fish and game, to sustain their way of life. In the present day, the park collaborates closely with local tribes to protect their cultural heritage and traditional knowledge.

During the early 19th century, European explorers and fur traders flocked to the region in pursuit of the lucrative fur trade. Subsequently, the landscape underwent transformation with the construction of dams and hydroelectric power plants in the 1920s, eventually paving the way for the establishment of the national park. Remarkably, archaeological findings in the park provide insights into human presence in the area dating back over 8,500 years.

The incredibly unique features of North Cascades National Park are the result of various natural occurrences over millions of years. The rugged mountain terrain, part of the North Cascades Range, was shaped by glacial activity and volcanic processes. The park’s landscape is characterized by jagged peaks, numerous glaciers, deep valleys, and pristine lakes, creating a striking alpine wilderness.

Weather in North Cascades National Park varies throughout the year. The best time to visit is from mid-June to late September when most of the snow has melted, and access to hiking trails and campgrounds is at its peak. During this period, the weather is generally pleasant, with daytime temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, visitors should be prepared for sudden weather changes, as mountain environments are known for their unpredictability. RV renters should pack clothing for both warm and cool conditions and be equipped for rain and storms, especially during the fall and spring seasons.

RV renters at North Cascades National Park can enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities. Hiking is one of the most popular pursuits, with trails ranging from easy walks to challenging backcountry routes. Mountaineering enthusiasts can tackle some of the park’s iconic peaks, while boating and fishing opportunities abound on the pristine lakes and rivers. Wildlife viewing is another rewarding experience, as the park is home to a variety of animals, including bears, deer, eagles, and more.

There are five RV-friendly campgrounds in the park, offering different amenities and facilities. Some campgrounds provide reservations, while others operate on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s essential to check availability and make reservations in advance, especially during the peak season, to secure a spot. Amenities at the campgrounds vary but may include restrooms, picnic tables, and fire rings. However, RV renters should be aware that facilities can be limited, particularly during the winter months.

The peak season for visiting North Cascades National Park is from mid-June to late September, as mentioned earlier. This period offers the best weather conditions and access to recreational activities. However, the park’s popularity during this time can lead to increased visitation and campground occupancy. Visitors who prefer quieter experiences may consider exploring the park during the shoulder seasons of spring or fall when emerging wildlife and colorful landscapes add to the allure, making memories to last a lifetime.

Park Alerts (2)

From March to November, especially on busy holiday weekends, it is possible to encounter extensive queues at the entrance road. The parking areas near popular trailheads and viewpoints tend to reach capacity quickly. It is advisable to bring along your patience and arrive early to evade large crowds.

IThe Hite Ramp is currently not accessible due to closure. The take-out at North Wash is a basic and undeveloped dirt area, where it is not possible to maneuver a trailer in reverse down the uneven slope. The conditions have worsened due to recent washouts, adding to the deterioration of the area.

RV Rentals in North Cascades National Park


Visitors can access North Cascades National Park by driving their cars or RVs using WA-20, the main road leading to the park. Restrictions on rig sizes apply on Cascade River Road, which is not suitable for large RVs. Be aware that the region is mountainous, so the roads can be steep, winding, and narrow on occasion. Exercise caution and drive at a reduced speed when operating a large rig or towing a trailer. In winter, the park experiences substantial snowfall, leading to an influx of snow. As a result, numerous roads in North Cascades National Park become impassable during this season.

North Cascades National Park offers RV-friendly campgrounds. This campground warmly accommodates RVs of all sizes and offers a wide selection of sites to choose from. Goodell Creek and Colonial Creek allow smaller RVs but Newhalem is more comfortable and has many spots that you can find. Overnight parking outside of designated campsites is not permitted. Camping with an RV in the park is recommended, and alternative transportation methods like biking or boating can enhance the exploration experience.

Campgrounds and parking areas in North Cascades National Park

Campgrounds and parking areas in North Cascades National Park

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Top Campsites in North Cascades National Park

Newhalem Creek Campground

Newhalem Creek Campground is one of the most popular camping areas within North Cascades National Park. Nestled in a lush forest, the campground offers a secluded environment with easy access to hiking trails. It features three main loops and a total of 111 campsites. Amenities such as drinking water, flush toilets, a dump station, and garbage and recycling services are available. For larger groups, two group sites are also offered. The campground can accommodate RVs up to 45 feet in length, catering to various rig sizes. It is pet-friendly, and reservations are highly recommended, with the campground open year-round, allowing visitors to experience the park’s beauty in every season.

Colonial Creek Campground South Loop

Colonial Creek Campground South Loop is another sought-after destination situated near the captivating Diablo Lake. Surrounded by ancient forests, this campground provides a serene and scenic setting. It comprises 94 campsites, each nestled amidst the trees. Though primitive, the campground offers flush toilets, a dump station, and potable water. The sites are suitable for rigs up to 25 or 30 feet in length. Reservations are available for the south loop, adding to its allure. Colonial Creek South Loop remains open throughout the year, beckoning visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquility of the park’s natural wonders.

Concrete/Grandy Creek KOA

Serves as a popular home base for exploring the North Cascades region. Nestled in the shadow of Mount Baker, this campground provides 123 sites, accommodating both back-in and pull-through setups. Offering full hookups, it caters to RVs of all sizes, making it a convenient choice for travelers. The campground impresses with a wide range of amenities, including a swimming pool, mini-golf course, jumping pillow, showers, toilets, a dump station, and a dumpster. It warmly welcomes pets, and WiFi is available at the Family Center. Guests can enjoy a delicious breakfast, with the pancakes highly recommended. With a year-round operation, Concrete/Grandy Creek KOA provides visitors the perfect opportunity to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the surrounding area throughout all seasons.

Gorge Lake Campground

Gorge Lake Campground is a primitive option located on the banks of the Gorge. This campground offers minimal amenities, with only vault toilets available. There are no water, electric hookups, sewer connections, or dumpsters provided, so visitors need to come prepared with enough water for their stay and carry out all trash. Gathering firewood is prohibited, so campers should bring their own supply. The sites at Gorge Lake Campground are available both on a first-come, first-served basis and through reservations, depending on the season. The campground is open year-round, offering a secluded and rustic camping experience amidst the natural beauty of North Cascades National Park.

Colonial Creek Campground – North Loop

It provides 42 primitive sites without electric, water, or sewer hookups. The campground is open from May to September. Large RVs are not recommended, but small RVs are welcome. As for pet-friendliness, pets are generally allowed in the national park, but they must be kept on a leash and are not allowed on trails. It’s important to follow the park’s pet regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Goodell Creek Campground – Main

This campground provides 19 primitive sites without water, electric, or sewer hookups. It is situated in a lush old-growth forest on the banks of the Skagit River. The main campground is open from May to September and caters to small RVs or tent camping. It offers vault toilets, a garbage service, picnic areas at each site, and drinking water collection points. Additionally, it has both upper and lower group sites available for reservation, with the lower group sites accommodating up to 50 people and 25 vehicles, and the upper group sites accommodating up to 30 people and 10 vehicles. Allowed pet but must be kept on a leash.

Hozomeen Campground

Hozomeen Campground is unique in that its entrance is on the US-Canadian border. It provides 75 designated sites, with a few additional areas for camping. The campground is open from May to October and caters to various sizes of RVs and trailers. However, the roads leading to the campground can be rough, so it’s advisable to bring a spare tire. Accommodations are primitive, offering only potable water and vault toilets. Visitors must bring their own firewood, food, and water supplies for a self-sufficient camping experience. Pets are generally allowed in the national park but must be kept on a leash and are not allowed on trails. It’s essential to follow park regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone, including pets and other visitors.

Wilderness Camping

Alternative camping options include Wilderness Camping, which allows you to immerse yourself in the park’s natural beauty by leaving the RV behind. Offers a secluded and immersive experience for outdoor enthusiasts. A backcountry camping permit is required, and campers must follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize environmental impact. Campsite selection should be at least 100 feet away from water sources, and proper food storage is essential to prevent wildlife encounters. Campers rely on natural water sources and should be well-prepared for potential risks. Group size should be limited to 12 people, and campers must register at the trailhead or ranger station before starting their wilderness adventure. This experience allows visitors to connect with nature’s beauty and serenity in its purest form.

Season-specific experiences in North Cascades National Park

DriveSnowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing

During the winter, North Cascades National Park transforms into a snowy wonderland, perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. RV campers can explore the park’s scenic trails, such as the winter route to Artist Point near Mount Baker. The area offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and frozen waterfalls, providing an unforgettable winter adventure.

Diablo Lake Overlook

The Diablo Lake Overlook, accessible via the North Cascades Highway, offers stunning winter vistas of the turquoise-colored lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks. RV campers can witness the beauty of the frozen lake and rugged landscape from the comfort of their vehicles, making it a must-visit spot during the winter season.

Snow Camping

For the adventurous RV campers, snow camping is a thrilling option in the backcountry. With a backcountry permit, campers can set up their tents in designated areas and experience the tranquility of the snow-covered wilderness. Hidden Lake Lookout is a popular winter snow camping destination, providing mesmerizing views of the snow-draped mountains.

Washington Pass Overlook

Located along the North Cascades Highway, the Washington Pass Overlook showcases breathtaking winter scenery. RV campers can stop here and witness the dramatic snow-clad mountains, including Liberty Bell Peak and Early Winters Spires, creating an awe-inspiring landscape.

Wildlife Viewing

Winter is an excellent time for RV campers to observe wildlife, as animals often come down to lower elevations in search of food. In Methow Valley, visitors can spot mule deer, elk, and sometimes even elusive wolves against the backdrop of snow-covered meadows.

Fall Foliage Drives

During the fall season, North Cascades National Park transforms into a colorful spectacle as the foliage bursts into vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. RV campers can embark on scenic drives along the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) or the Stehekin Valley Road to witness the stunning fall foliage. The Maple Pass Loop and Rainy Lake Trail are popular options for experiencing the autumn colors up close. As you drive through the park’s winding roads, be prepared to be mesmerized by the picturesque landscapes, reflecting the beauty of the changing seasons.

Diablo Lake Vista Point

For breathtaking views of the fall colors and the electric-blue waters of Diablo Lake, RV campers should head to the Diablo Lake Vista Point. This picturesque overlook, accessible via the North Cascades Highway, offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and the stunning lake below. The vibrant hues of the foliage contrasting against the emerald waters create a captivating sight, making this spot a favorite among fall visitors.

Fall Hiking Adventures

Fall is an excellent time for RV campers to explore the park’s numerous hiking trails amidst the vibrant autumn scenery. The Thunder Knob Trail and Blue Lake Trail are among the top choices for witnessing the fall foliage up close. These moderate-level hikes take you through colorful meadows and offer stunning vistas of the surrounding peaks. Lace up your hiking boots and immerse yourself in the beauty of the park’s autumn landscapes.

Ross Lake

Ross Lake, set against a backdrop of fall colors, offers RV campers a serene and scenic setting to enjoy the season. The lake provides excellent opportunities for paddling, kayaking, and canoeing, allowing visitors to bask in the tranquil ambiance of the fall. Head to the Ross Dam Overlook for breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding mountains adorned in their fall attire.

Cascade Pass Trail

The Cascade Pass Trail is a must-visit for RV campers seeking panoramic fall vistas. This popular trail leads to one of the most iconic viewpoints in the park. As you hike through the golden-hued meadows and alpine scenery, you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas of the rugged peaks, including Johannesburg Mountain and Magic Mountain. The Cascade Pass Trail is a moderately challenging hike, but the awe-inspiring fall scenery makes it all worthwhile.


North Cascades National Park is renowned for its unique climbing opportunities amidst rugged mountains, towering peaks, and over 300 glaciers. Rock climbers and mountaineers flock to this area seeking challenging and rewarding climbs. Be prepared for the difficulty and consider obtaining a backcountry license for climbing in specific areas of the park.

Wildlife Watching

North Cascades boasts one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, providing RV campers with ample opportunities for wildlife watching. From elusive gray wolves and wolverines to abundant deer and squirrels, there’s a wealth of wildlife to observe. Embark on an adventure to spot various insects and enjoy the park’s rich biodiversity. Wildlife watching is particularly rewarding during the spring months.

Rafting on Skagit River

As the snow melts in spring, the Skagit River becomes ideal for rafting and kayaking. RV campers can enjoy thrilling adventures on the river’s rapids while surrounded by the beauty of the spring landscape.


With pristine lake waters, North Cascades National Park provides abundant fishing opportunities. Ross Lake, Diablo Lake, Lake Chelan, Stehekin River, and Skagit River are some of the prime fishing spots within the park. Skagit River offers various salmon and trout species, making it an exciting destination for fishing enthusiasts. Lake Chelan and Stehekin River also offer diverse fish populations to enhance your fishing experience.

Kayaking and Canoeing

Exploring the many lakes by kayak or canoe is a popular pastime at North Cascades National Park. Rentals are available at Ross Lake Resort, and Lake Chelan, Ross, Diablo, and Gorge Lakes are ideal locations for paddling. Kayaking and canoeing offer a wonderful way to savor the scenic views around the lakes.

Boat-In Camping

A fantastic boating activity to experience at North Cascades National Park is boat-in camping. This relatively new option allows campers to explore new and improved campsites by the lakeside. Before embarking on this adventure, make sure to obtain a backcountry permit for the sites located near the lakes. Boat-in camping provides a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the serenity of nature and find peace amidst the wilderness. For the adventurous RV campers, Sahale Glacier Camp is a highlight of the summer season.

Evening Programs

Among the many ranger programs held at the park, one of the most popular takes place at the amphitheater in the Hozomeen area. Here, visitors can gather and listen to captivating stories about the North Cascades, offering entertaining and educational experiences for the whole family.

Horseback Riding

For experienced riders, North Cascades National Park offers excellent horseback riding trails. Along Bridge Creek, you’ll find some of the best and most renowned trails, including East Bank Trail, Big Beaver Trail, and Thunder Creek Trail. Before heading out, be sure to check trail conditions and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride.


The summer hiking season in North Cascades National Park typically lasts from April to October. Trails vary in difficulty and length, providing a wide range of options for hikers. The Thornton Lake Trail rewards trekkers with breathtaking views of a subalpine lake, while the Thunder Creek Trail offers a delightful three-mile hike through an enchanting forest. The Agnes Gorge Trail showcases a spectacular gorge and waterfall, making it an enticing option for hikers.

Bird Watching

North Cascades National Park is home to over 300 bird species, classified into 38 different families. The park also plays a vital role in preserving two threatened bird species: the spotted owl and the marbled murrelet. While spotting these rare birds might be challenging, visitors can still enjoy observing various songbirds and migrating waterfowl in this birdwatcher’s paradise.