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EXPLORE AMERICA: North Cascades National Park

Majestic enough to be mistaken as the place where the Van Trapps escaped from Austria, the Cascade Mountains are considered to be the “American Alps” by some. And who can blame them, with jagged peaks that tower above pristine subalpine meadows and conifer forests. Numerous cascading waterfalls, which gave this mountain range its name, tumble over high cliffs or spill into mountain lakes and rivers. The eastern part of North Cascades National Park is situated in the Cascades’ “rain shadow.” It receives less precipitation and has milder conditions, which allows arid-region plants such as ponderosa pine and sagebrush to thrive. The western slopes are buffeted by storms blowing in from Puget Sound. With up to 110 inches of precipitation each year, it is an ideal environment for Douglas fir, western red cedar, and hemlock. The North Cascades park complex is made up of three parts: the North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. Ross Lake National Recreation Area encompasses 118,000 acres and provides a scenic route for the North Cascades Highway and a variety of outdoor activities.

North Cascades National Park is located at 810 State Rte 20, Sedro-Woolley, Washington. Telephone 360-854-7200. http://www.nps.gov/noca/index.htm

Photo credit: courtesy National Park Service

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