Many public campgrounds in the North Cascades are accessible by road. Most sites are filled on a first-come first-served basis. Free campgrounds are primitive, requiring that you bring your own water and pack out garbage.
The following National Park campgrounds are accessible via car along the North Cascades Highway. Numerous other National Forest (Lone Fir, Klipchuck, Early Winters), State Park (Rockport), and County Park (Steelhead) campgrounds are also available along this route.
An accessible campsite is available in each loop of the Newhalem and Colonial Creek Campgrounds. Group camps in the Newhalem area are available for a nightly fee. Call at 360-873-4590 ext.17 for reservations. New group areas at Newhalem offer picnic pavilions and a modern restroom. Goodell group camps provide more rustic facilities.
|Campground||Sites||Open||Close||Dump Station||Toilet||Fishing||Boat Ramp||Fee|
|Goodell Creek||21||All Year||No||Pit||Yes||No||$10.00|
Other campgrounds by the North Cascades National Park run by the Forest Service are:
|Campground||Sites||Drinking Water||Dump Station||Toilet||Fishing||Boat Ramp||Fee|
|Horseshoe Cove||34||Yes||No||Flush, Pit||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rockport State Park||62||Yes||Yes||Flush||No||No||Yes|
There are 17 boat-access camp areas on Ross Lake and 3 on Diablo Lake. A backcountry permit is required for any overnight camping. All Ross Lake campsites are equipped with fire-rings, picnic tables, and vault toilets. The Hozomeen campground is also accessible by car from Hope, British Columbia.
The following are Boat and/or Hiking / Horse Access Only
|Campground||Distance from Ross Dam (miles)||Sites|
|Lightning Creek Boat Camp||13.5||6|
|Lightning Creek Horse Camp||13.0||3|
|Ten Mile Island||11.0||3|
|Buster Brown||Diablo Lake||3|
|Hidden Cove||Diablo Lake||1|
|Thunder Point||Diablo Lake||3|
Lake Chelan NRA Campgrounds
It should be noted that all campgrounds in Lake Chelan NRA are primitive, backcountry campsites. All campsites in the Stehekin Valley require a free permit. Access to the Stehekin Valley is by boat, float plane, foot or horseback. A NPS shuttle bus does travel the valley two times a day during the summer and fall (reservations are required). Group camping is available at Harlequin and Bridge Creek with advanced reservations.
Stehekin Valley Area
Lake Chelan Area
The Six Principles of Leave No Trace
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
Carefully designing your trip to match your expectations and outdoor skill level is the first step in being prepared. Adequate trip planning and preparation helps to accomplish trip goals safely, while minimizing impacts on the environment and on other users.
Know the area and what to expect, including regulations and special concerns of the area.
Travel in small groups, during seasons or days of a week when use levels are low.
Bears may be present; balance safety concerns in bear country with ecological and social impact concerns.
Select appropriate equipment to help you Leave No Trace.
Repackage food into reusable containers, creating less trash to pack out.
2. Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces
Whenever you travel and camp, confine your use to surfaces that are resistant to impact.
In popular areas, concentrate use. In remote areas, spread use.
Hike on existing trails to minimize disturbance to wildlife, soil and vegetation.
Choose an established campsite, one with a slight slope so rain water can drain.
Use only designated campsites.
Store food so that it is unavailable and uninviting to bears and small animals.
Before departing, make sure your camp is as clean or cleaner than when you arrived.
3. Pack it In, Pack it Out
The Wilderness Act states that wilderness "... is recognized as an area... where man himself is a visitor who does not remain,...with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable..." People come to the wildlands to enjoy them in their natural state. Allow others a sense of discovery by leaving rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts antlers, and other objects as you find them.
Minimize site alteration when camping, do not build structures.
Avoid damaging live trees and plants.
Avoid disturbing wildlife.
Leave natural objects and cultural artifacts for others to enjoy.
It is illegal to remove any cultural objects from North Cascades National Park.
Cultural artifacts are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. All these "pieces of the past" contribute to our understanding of human and natural history, including the effects of disease, climate changes, and shifting animal populations on the land and her people. Removing these artifacts takes them out of context and removes a chapter from an important story. If you discover an artifact, enjoy it where it is. Leave it as you found it.
6. Minimize Use and Impact from Fires.
The use of campfires in the backcountry, once a necessity, is now steeped in history and tradition. Stoves are now essential equipment for minimum-impact camping trips because they are fast and eliminate firewood availability as a concern in campsite selection.
Use dead and down wood only.
In high use areas, build campfires in existing fire rings to concentrate impacts.
On the coast, build your fire below the high tide line.
Consider using a large wok, gold pan or other metal container to avoid making scars on the ground.
These principles and practices depend more on attitude and awareness than on rules and regulations; they must be based on a respect for and appreciation of wild places and their inhabitants.
Additional Camping Information
Emergency gear - Tips to help you in primitive camping situations
Waterproof matches in airtight containers, metal matches, fire starter and �tinder' are suggested. Extra food and clothing, a signal mirror, smoke flare, durable space blankets, plastic bags, and a good first aid kit are extremely valuable if you plan on being out for several days. Cord can be used to make a shelter and hang food in trees. Most hikers carry water purification filters or chemicals. Some even carry pocket strobe lights, and a few carry personal locator beacons. Plan to be self sufficient in any emergency. The land is vast and remote, and you cannot count on early help if you have difficulties.
Try and keep your gear lightweight yet durable. Equipment should withstand rigorous use in a rough, mountainous countryside. Help could be many hours away should something go wrong with your gear.
Food and Supplies
Bring your food, equipment and other supplies with you. Avoid food such as bacon or smoked fish, soaps, and cosmetics with strong odors as they attract bears. Bottles and cans are hard to dispose of. If you take them in, you are expected to carry them out. Without some sort of bear proof storage, you should be prepared to hang your food as high as possible. Federal Aviation Administration regulations prohibit carrying fuel in containers such as stoves on commercial airlines. Use white gas.
Boots should be a sturdy hiking or mountaineering type that provides good ankle support. Some hikers prefer boots with the rubber shoe and leather upper, like the Maine Hunting Shoe. You can count on your feet getting wet regardless of your boot type, so durability and support should be a prime concern. Many pair of socks are essential. Tennis shoes are good for crossing rivers.
Insects - Insect repellent and head nets are highly recommended.
Trails Illustrated topo map covers the whole park and includes the most current information on the location of trails and camps.
Green Trails maps contain more topographic information and include trail mileage.
USGS maps provide the most detailed topographic information. Although campsite and trail information are often outdated, these are the preferred maps for mountaineering and cross-country travel. Maps, books and pamphlets are sold at park headquarters and ranger and information stations.
Rain Gear and Clothing
Durable rain gear that covers both the upper and lower torso is a must for hikes of any length. The rain gear should keep out water in a steady down pour. Since you will eventually get wet in any significant rain storm, wool or synthetic clothing that insulates when wet is highly recommended for wear under rain gear. The weather can change quickly and without warning. Expect rain and drizzle. Hypothermia is always a possibility with wet conditions and cool temperatures.
Stove - A gasoline stove is essential. You may not cut down live trees. Set campfires with downed wood only.
Tents and Sleeping Bags
You should have a tent with a waterproof floor, rain-fly, and a no-see- um netting, and this tent should be designed to withstand strong winds. Bring plenty of extra stakes and strong cord to keep the tent secure. Synthetics like �Polarguard' or �Fiberfill' are better than down in a wet environment because synthetics will insulate when wet while down will not. A sleeping pad will provide insulation as well as comfort.
Be Bear Aware
Avoid surprising animals at close range. Whistle, talk, sing, or otherwise make noise when hiking in areas where visibility is limited or bear sign present. Take no pets; they are prohibited in the backcountry. A dog's valor may turn into retreat bringing an infuriated bear to you.
Be alert to sign (droppings, diggings, fresh tracks, etc.), sounds, or other indications of bears. Be particularly wary when hiking wildlife trails, salmon streams, or other areas where bears concentrate.
Food and beverages should never be left unattended. Foodstuffs with strong odors such as fish, cheese, sausage, and fresh meats should be stored in a food cache, a bear resistant container, or suspended 10 feet above ground. Carry all refuse and garbage out! Buried refuse will attract bears.
Keep packs and other personal gear on your person. It is easy to become separated from belongings left lying on the ground when a bear unexpectedly approaches. Bears will investigate, often destructively.
Bears approach anglers because they have learned to recognize them as a source of food. Stop fishing when bears are present.
If you keep a fish, you should remove the fish immediately to a proper food storage area.
Do not approach bears
The minimum safe distance from any bear is 50 yards; from a sow with young it is 100 yards. These are MINIMUM distances, there are many times that greater distances are required!
Regardless of precautions taken, you may come across a bear. Usually they will run away. A bear standing on hind legs may only be trying to sense you better, not preparing to attack. Even a charge is often a bluff, ending abruptly short of physical contact.
If you see a bear at a distance, turn around or make a wide detour. Keep upwind if possible so the bear will get your scent and know you're there. Talk in an assured tone to communicate your presence. Treat animals as if cubs are nearby. Assume the bear will be defensive. Do not approach closer to scare a bear away as you may be considered a threat.
Avoid actions that interfere with bear movement or foraging activities.
Be satisfied with a distant photograph, or use a telephoto lense. Many fatalities and injuries have been related to photography.
Do not corner an animal. Allow them plenty of space and an escape route.
Bears are typically solitary animals. Much of their communication at feeding aggregations, such as occur on Brooks River, serves to maintain spacing and avoid conflict. Bears appear to have only a limited repertoire for this purpose. These behavior patterns are not highly ritualized, as in some species; therefore, their meaning is largely dependent on the context of the situation.
Descriptions of some behavior and a general interpretation of meaning follow to help you understand what a bear may be trying to tell you. Remember, each bear is an individual and each encounter is unique.
Standing on hind legs - A bear standing bipedally is typically not expressing aggression. Bears generally stand on their hind legs to gain more information, both olfactory and visual.
Stationary lateral body orientation - A bear may stand broadside to assert itself in some instances. In encounters with human, it has usually been interpreted as a demonstration of size.
Stationary frontal orientation - If a bear is standing and facing you, it is certainly not being submissive. This is an aggressive position and may signal a charge. It is likely waiting for you to withdraw.
Huffing - When a bear is tense, it may forcibly exhale a series of several sharp, rasping huffs. A mother may also huff in order to gain the attention of her young.
Woof - A startled bear may emit a single sharp exhale that lakes the harsh quality of a huff. If her cubs woof, a mother will immediately become alert to the situation.
Jaw-Popping - Females with young often emit a throaty popping sound, apparently to beckon their cubs when danger is sensed. A mother vocalizing in this manner should be considered nervous and extremely stressed. Bears other than sows also jaw-pop.
Growl, snarl, roar - Clear indication of intolerance.
Yawning - Indicates tension. This behavior may results from the close proximity of another bear or human presence.
Excessive Salivation - A clear sign of tension, salivation may appear as white foam around the bear's mouth.
The vast majority of charges are ones in which the bear stops before making contact. The intensity of the charge or associated vocalizations may vary, but it is distinct in that it is an aggressive or defensive act clearly directed at another bear or human. Bears may charge immediately, as a sow fearing for her cubs, or may emit stressed or erratic behavior before charging.
There is no guaranteed lifesaving method of reacting to an aggressive bear. Some behavior patterns have proven more successful in close encounters than others. Take a calm assured posture. A firm voice and gradual departure are better than a retreat in panic. Include the nature of your surroundings in your reaction.
As a last resort, lie face down, protect your neck with your hands and arms, and don't move. This requires considerable courage, but resistance would be futile. Numerous incidents exist where a bear has sniffed and departed without serious injury.
Thoughts on Grizzly and Black Bears
Black bears and grizzly bears can be difficult to tell apart. Size and color are not distinguishing characteristics. Both species vary greatly in the color of their coats: Black bears are not always black, and grizzly bears are sometimes black and not always grizzled. This can make it very difficult to distinguish between the two.
Black bears and grizzly bears have many things in common. Both sleep through the winter. Both are powerful, fast, and protective of their young. Both species are poached for illegal sale on the black market.
Both bears eat a variety of foods, most of them plants. Both have good eyesight and an excellent sense of smell; they can detect scents from miles away. Through the course of a year, both bears use a wide variety of habitats, from low valleys to high meadows. Both are highly intelligent and individualistic. Both bears learn quickly how to get food and garbage from people, a habit very difficult to break.
There are differences between black bears and grizzly bears, too. Grizzlies grow larger than black bears, and, as adults, are not the agile tree-climbers that black bears are. Though not always a definitive characteristic, grizzlies tend to have a concave rather than straight facial profile. Grizzlies a muscular shoulder hump, and longer claws adapted for digging, which they do vigorously. Tracks can also be used to distinguish between the two bears. Grizzly bears can be more aggressively protective of their young and their food than black bears, though you should be very careful in the presence of either.
In 1975 grizzly bears were designated a "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to hunt grizzly bears in any national park. Black bears can be hunted in certain designated areas of National Recreation Areas. Check with the park for specific regulations.
Safety in Cougar Country
A cougar has all of the grace and playfulness of a house cat; it purrs and has a taste for catnip. Our familiarity with domestic cats can lead to some misconceptions about cougars, however. They are wild animals and must be respected as such.
Although few people ever see this elusive cat in the wild, sightings and encounters in the national parks have increased in recent years.
Cougars are entirely capable of lethal attacks on people, and predatory attacks by cougars have occurred across the western U.S. and southwestern Canada over at least the last 50 years. Some incidents occur when people behave in a manner that resembles a cougar's normal prey. Expanding development and subdivisions into cougar habitat, particularly in areas with high deer populations, and residents who leave pet food or small pets or other animals outdoors at night seem to be factors that contribute to increased frequencies of cougar attacks.
When you visit the backcountry of a Northwestern national park, you are in cougar habitat. Keep this in mind and follow some basic rules.
For Your Safety
Never approach a cougar, especially a feeding one.
Cougars are unpredictable individuals, but will normally avoid a confrontation.
If you encounter a cougar, be sure to give it a way out.
Keep children close to you while hiking, and do not allow them to run ahead or lag behind on the trail. Pick them up if you see fresh sign of a cougar.
Hiking in a small group is best. Particularly in areas where cougars have been sighted, avoid hiking alone.
Jogging is not recommended. People running or moving rapidly may be at higher risk.
A walking stick makes a useful weapon in the event of an encounter.
If You Encounter A Cougar
Stop. Do not run.
Immediately pick up small children.
If you were sitting or bending over, stand upright. Spread your arms, open your coat, try to look as large as possible.
Maintain eye contact with the cougar, and attempt to slowly back away.
If A Cougar Acts Aggressively
If approached, wave your arms, shout, and throw sticks or rocks at it.
If attacked, fight back aggressively.
An attack from a cougar is an unlikely event and, by taking these precautions, you can reduce the chances even further. By taking care, you will help enable all of us to continue to share America's wildlands with these magnificent animals.
Outside of national parks, the cougar is listed as a game animal in Washington in most states, so hunting is allowed according to state game regulations. Hunting is not allowed in most units of the National Park System. Campgrounds (Ross Lake NRA)
Archaeological records prove humans have been fishing in the Cascade Mountains for at least 8,000 years. The rivers, streams, ponds, and alpine lakes of North Cascades National Park and Lake Chelan and Ross Lake National Recreation Areas provide opportunities to fish in the spectacular and unspoiled environment of the Cascades. Fishing regulations have been adopted to help protect and restore nature acquatic habitats and the abundance and distribution of fish species. Special regulations limiting the use of bait have been adopted throughout the park and recreation areas. Studies show that up to half the fish caught using bait don't survive the hook-removal and handling. Certain waters are closed to fishing to protect critical spawning habitat. Please remember that fish are an integral part of the natural ecosystem of the park. Enjoy your fishing experience in the pristine waters of the North Cascades and help to maintain a healthy and wild fish population for this and future generations.
A valid Washington State Fishing License is required. It must be in your possession and displayed upon request of a ranger or wildlife officer.
All Washington Game Fish regulations, seasons, and catch limits apply.
The use of baitfish, amphibians, and nonpreserved fish eggs is prohibited. Many lakes and streams have special regulations that prohibit any bait.
You are limited to one line, with up to three hooks, under your immediate control.
It is unlawful to feed or chum with any substance to attract sportfish.
Fish may be gutted in the field, but throughout transport must be left intact so that size and species can be determined.
It is illegal to dispose of fish remains within 200 feet of docks or campsites. Please puncture the bladder and dispose of remains in deep or swift current.
Bull trout have disappeared from most of their former range. Their numbers have dwindled to the point where they are in danger of extinction. This trout has been red-tagged a species of concern by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and is a candidate species for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service list of threatened and endangered species. Restrictive fishing regulations are in effect in most places for bull trout to help restore a wild and healthy population. These regulations also apply to Dolly Varden trout, because they are difficult to distinguish from bull trout.
By practicing proper catch and release fishing, today's anglers preserve quality fishing for the anglers of tomorrow. Use artificial flies and lures to catch fish that you plan to release. Use barbless hooks and an appropriate hook size. Pliers can be used to pinch down barbs on conventional hooks.
Catch and Release Methods
Boat ramps are available at Hozomeen (Ross Lake), Colonial Creek (Diablo Lake), near the town of Diablo (Gorge Lake) and several locations on Lake Chelan.
A boat taxi can be arranged to reach backcountry camping sites on Ross Lake. Passenger ferries are the primary means of accessing selected sites on Lake Chelan and Stehekin Valley. During summer months, Seattle City Light (which operates the dams on the Skagit River) offers a boat tour to their Ross Lake Dam.
Be sure to carry Coast Guard approved safety devices and life jackets. Even in the summer, the water temperature in Ross Lake seldom gets above 50 degrees F. Always carry raingear, extra food, and be prepared for sudden weather changes. Store all food out of reach of bears and other wildlife. Carry out all trash. Use driftwood for firewood, cutting of any standing tree is prohibited.
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