North Cascades National Park has been on the Go-See-Do list for a long long long time. Maybe even longer than that.
It’s not on the route to anything unless you’re heading from the middle of nowhere to Vancouver, but it’s an easily accessible backyard playground for the people who live along the I-5 corridor around Seattle.

Ouray Colorado touts itself as America’s Switzerland.
North Cascades National Park shrugged at that, and touts itself as America’s Alps. Go big or go home.

While we agree with both and we’re partial to Colorado, the terrain and views here win out over Ouray hands-down.
After an amazing visit to Stehekin, our route from the Chelan area took us north on route 20 into the east side of the Park.
So much flatness, then a bit more terrain with vast pine forests, then jagged peaks punching you right in the eyeballs.
These dramatic peaks rise quickly in your vision, and they rise just as quickly from the rivers flowing between them.
Humans have learned to stick to the flat river areas for easy transit, but our adventurous spirits have us looking forward to exploring those steep bits on the edges.

From Whence We Came

From Whence We Came
Looking back at our route up into North Cascades

The long grade up from the east to Washington Pass and Rainy Pass is a 4,000 foot constant climb from 804 feet in Pateros up to 4,875 feet at the pass.
It’s a good thing we stopped short of Washington Pass for some photos, because that’s where I noticed that the plastic coolant overflow tank on the RV had cracked (a well-known issue on the Freightliner Custom Chassis) and was spraying coolant all over the front of the Jeep.
Public Service Announcement: It’s not all beautiful places, good stories, and pretty pictures – the duck looks calm on the surface but is paddling like crazy underneath!
There’s a LOT of moving parts, maintenance, and not-fun stuff that comes along with the traveling life. Plenty of people get sucked in by the Instagram shots and think that life on the road is glamorous, worry-free, and anyone can do it.
Luckily the crack was pretty high in the overflow tank, and the Freightliner service center in Mount Vernon keeps several of these tanks in stock (tells you how often they go bad!), so we unhooked the Jeep, let the engine cool down a bit, and continued on our journey.
I’ll replace the tank when we get somewhere for a long stay, my Dad taught me some mad mechanical skills and we brought a full complement of tools with us.
It might be able to be “repaired” with JB Weld, but I need to have everything perfectly proper, it minimizes future surprises…

A Break With A View

A Break With A View in the North Cascades National Park
Now this is a most excellent stopping spot. Especially when you notice coolant all over the front of the Jeep!

The North Cascades National Park Service Complex encompasses the Park itself, the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.
99% of the visitors to the Park Complex never step foot in the actual Park itself, as the area surrounding the route 20 corridor all falls within the Ross Lake National Recreation Area.
You have to put on your boots, grab a big backpack, and head into the backcountry to cross over the boundary and visit the actual Park.
Due to the terrain, there are only a handful of "tourist friendly" hikes, all staying within the Ross Lake NRA.
We look forward to putting on the boots and getting away from the drive-thru tourists! Hopefully we’ll have some mountain photos to share in a few days.

Ross Lake NRA

Ross Lake NRA in the North Cascades National Park Complex
The mandatory sign photo

Old Friends

Old Friends
Friendly mule deer, just like on the patio at home

Ross Dam

Ross Dam in the North Cascades National Park
This is an impressive engineering marvel

Big Moss, Big Boss

Big Moss, Big Boss
So. Much. Moss!

Silly Green

Silly Green
The water of Diablo Lake really does look like this due to glacial flour.

Tucked In

Tucked In at Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park
The still side of Diablo Lake, south of 20.

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