North Cascades National Park and the Skagit Valley

North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades are calling! Andy Porter’s image captured the wildness of 684,000 acres in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.  With over 300 glaciers, peaks, valleys, and cascading waterfalls, the North Cascades are fondly called the American Alps. The North Cascades National Park is in the eastern region of Skagit Valley.  The North Cascades National Park and Forest Information Center, located in Sedro-Woolley, includes an exhibit map model of the park and adjacent national forests along with retail sales of books, maps, videos, and other items related to the North Cascades National Park.

The North Cascades Visitor Center is located across the Skagit River from the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) near milepost 120 and the town of Newhalem.  Learn about the park with the map model of the park, exhibit room featuring multimedia exhibits on the park’s natural and cultural history, and pick up a souvenir in the retail area.

Are you looking for a backcountry permit?  Stop by the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount (7280 Ranger Station Rd) at State Route 20 milepost 105.3.  Inside find exhibits about wilderness and backcountry travel, map model, and sales of books, maps, and other items related to wilderness, hiking, and climbing.  This center is the main backcountry permit office for North Cascades National Park and the adjacent Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas.  Backcountry permits are required year-round and are available at an outdoor self-issue station when the station closes during the winter season.

Looking to stretch out those legs, a quick restroom break, and a surprisingly fun exhibit, stop by the Skagit Information Center on State Route 20 in the town of Newhalem.  Jointly operated by Seattle City Light, North Cascades Institute, and North Cascades National Park, learn about hydroelectric power and Skagit Project dams at the exhibit. Take the Trail of the Cedars short hike over the river and enjoy the forest.  Also, the park at the Skagit Information Center is a great place to let the kids run around the steam engine while enjoying lunch in a majestic setting. Climb aboard Old Number Six, a restored Baldwin steam engine, and ring its big brass bell. Located next to the Skagit General Store, this locomotive used to run between Newhalem and Rockport and offered the only access to the area during construction of the Skagit River Project. Picnic tables, a playground, and restrooms are nearby.

North Cascades National Park Backcountry Permits & Reservations

Permits are required year-round for all overnight stays in the backcountry of North Cascades National Park Service Complex (North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas). The primary objective of the permit system is to better manage backcountry visitation to prevent overcrowding and resource damage and to provide opportunities for solitude and a quality backcountry experience for all visitors, including future generations.

  • Each party (individual or group) must obtain and carry a backcountry permit for the duration of the backcountry trip.
  • Permits are specific to a site (along trails or boat-in areas) or a cross-country zone each night of the itinerary. You must follow the itinerary listed on your permit.
  • Failure to possess and display a valid backcountry permit may result in a fine and/or immediate removal from the backcountry.

Note: Permits are not required for day use or for camping in car-accessed campgrounds along State Route 20 or at the drive-in campground at Hozomeen. Parking passes (such as the Northwest Forest Pass, required at USFS trailheads) do not substitute for a backcountry permit.

Click Here for the Latest Backcountry Permit Information

Car Camping Reservations

All drive-in campgrounds along State Route 20 are on a reservation system through Campground reservations are accepted during the specified season dates; campgrounds may also be open before or after the reservation season on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations can be made online at or by phone at 1-877-444-6777. You may use the links below for the specific campgrounds.

Goodell Creek Campground
Gorge Lake Campground
Newhalem Creek Campground
Colonial Creek South Campground
Colonial Creek North Campground
Lower Goodell Group Campground
Upper Goodell Group Campground

Plan Your Visit

Are you hoping to encounter alpine wilderness, hike among dense evergreen forests, or car-camp with the whole family? Whatever your interest, get started here planning an enjoyable, safe, and memorable visit to the North Cascades National Park Service Complex!

Click Here to Start Planning Your Visit to the North Cascades National Park


All of the park visitor center/information center facilities mentioned above describe at least some services not currently being offered during the pandemic.

    • None of the buildings with exhibits or the map models referenced are open.
    • The Park and Forest Information Center is closed until further notice
    • The North Cascades Visitor Center has outdoor information services, open restroom facilities, and the park store (retail area) only and the capacity is limited. There are no museum/exhibit displays, map model, or park film currently playing.
    • The Wilderness Information Center currently is offering permits outside and has no retail space, exhibits, or the map model referenced. They will be opening part of their building (still for permits only, no sales or exhibits) at a later date with a limited capacity allowed in at one time.
    • The Skagit Information Center is the exception because Seattle City Light has opened that facility for retail sales as well as exhibits and is jointly operating it with North Cascades Institute this summer. They are also limiting the number of people inside the building at one time.