Where to stay around North Cascades National Park
From a floating resort to high-country camps, here are tips on where to rest your head.
Seattle Times outdoors editor
Northwest travel guides
Where to stay, where to stay? There’s nothing very fancy in and around North Cascades National Park, but there are plenty of options.
Should we even tell you about Ross Lake Resort? It’s so backwoods perfect you have to book months, or even a year, in advance, even for weeknights. It’s what many Washington families think of when they dream of the remote North Cascades.
In the park complex’s Ross Lake National Recreation Area, this little flotilla of rustic cabins (dating to the early1950s and within view of Ross Dam) is all built on floats at the edge of Ross Lake and connected by boardwalks. Here you can rent a fishing boat ($110 a day), a canoe or a kayak (starting at $36/day), or just sit in an Adirondack chair in front of your cozy quarters and take in the enchanting view of the lake and snowy Pyramid Peak. No TVs, no cellphone reception, no stores, just quiet.
“We absolutely love it!” said Terri Amburgy, of Everett, from her dock chair next to daughter Samantha Dodd, part of an extended family that’s been coming for 20 years.
“It’s peaceful and gorgeous and you can have an adventure anywhere, just get in your boat and explore,” Dodd said.
It’s also not accessible by road. You get there by the resort’s boat and truck, or hike down from the highway.
Don’t miss the memory wall on the back of the laundry room, festooned with plaques and carved memorials to generations of families and friends, Cabins start at $165/night. 206-386-4437 or rosslakeresort.com.
North Cascades Environmental Learning Center
Even if you don’t sign up for a workshop or program, visitors may sometimes stay at this lakeside retreat if programs haven’t filled the sleeping quarters. It’s called the “Base Camp” option and includes bunk beds, three meals a day and an “optional nature activity,” starting at $150/night single-occupancy (discounted for multiple guests). 360-854-2599 or ncascades.org/signup/programs/base-camp.
• Buffalo Run Inn: This 1889-vintage cedar roadhouse, once a watering hole for gold miners and lumberjacks on their way to the North Cascades, is a bed-and-breakfast with rates starting at $49/night. buffalorunrestaurant.com.
• Skagit River Resort: A variety of cabins, from 1940s rustic to modern-day, in the woods or surrounding a designated “bunny lawn” (lots of wild rabbits here), starting at $79/night in summer. 800-273-2606 or northcascades.com.
• Totem Trail Motel: Eight units off the highway, starting at $60/night in summer. 360-873-4535 or totemtrail.com.
More options: marblemount.com
North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin: 28 units, including lakeview rooms, some with kitchens, start at $122/night. Restaurant open April through mid-October. 509-682-4494 or lodgeatstehekin.com.
More options: stehekin.com
The national park complex has three major vehicle-accessible campgrounds along Highway 20. Campsites are $10-$12 a night during summer season. Most are first-come, first-served. Reservations available for a limited number of sites at Newhalem Creek ($21/night) at 877-444-6777 or recreation.gov. Firewood available for purchase at Skagit General Store in Newhalem. Some sites include bear-proof food-storage boxes. No RV hookups. More info: 1.usa.gov/1rO1Gcb.
Goodell Creek: A mossy green hideaway with 21 campsites (some waterfront) suitable for tents or small RVs at the confluence of Goodell Creek and the Skagit River, near Newhalem. Vault toilets. Open year-round (with no water, services or fees from mid-September to late May).
Newhalem Creek: A large, RV-friendly campground with 111 sites in the woods, with some walk-in tent sites fronting on the Skagit River. Adjacent to the park’s main visitor center near Newhalem. Flush toilets. Open May 23-Sept. 8 in 2014.
Colonial Creek: A 142-site, wooded campground divided by Highway 20. Some tent-only areas, and many sites suitable to RVs. Dozens of sites front on Diablo Lake. Flush toilets. Most sites open May 23-Sept. 8 in 2014, but some lakefront sites are open year-round with no water, services or fees in offseason (vault toilets available).
There are almost 140 backcountry campsites, from boat-in sites to high alpine backpacking sites. Camping is allowed only at established sites along trail corridors. All backcountry sites require a free permit available at ranger stations; the park’s Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount is the best source. Permits are first-come, first-served. See nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/wilderness-trip-planner.htm.