North Cascades National Park – First Looks

May 22-23, 2020

The call we waited for finally came. We were going to the North Cascades National Park!

We left our temporary home on Whidbey Island on the morning of May 22nd. When we got to Newhalem, we met our supervisor, Katie Wood, at the volunteer campground. There were five sites to choose from and the one we selected was next to the building housing the laundry and bathroom. We have a really nice picnic table. Our first thought was to move it closer to our rig so the awning could shield it from the elements. Can you say H-E-A-V-Y!!! Our second thought was to leave the picnic table where it was.

Our Summer Home

It didn’t take long for us to start exploring our new home. On our first wander it became clear that Holly planned to admire every new plant and flower she encountered. And there were plenty of flowers to admire. It’s still early spring here so there will be many more flowers to admire over the next few months.


We continued our exploration the next day. We knew we could walk to work so we decided to give that a try. We crossed State Route 20, the North Cascades Scenic Highway, and onto the road to the visitor center. There’s a traffic light to control traffic on the one lane bridge that crosses the Skagit River. The weather was cool and cloudy, which would be the norm for the next few months. After the brutal heat and humidity we experienced in southeast Texas, we were okay with that.

One Lane Bridge

Skagit River Viewed from Bridge

A mile from home we found the visitor center. It looked lonely, empty, and forlorn. It was closed and would remain closed to the public for the summer. We already knew that but also knew that the park would provide visitor services some way, somehow.

North Cascades Visitor Center

We circled the building and spotted a sign for the Sterling Munro Boardwalk. The view was still stunning even with the cloudy skies. The sign at the end of the boardwalk gave us a sneak peek of what would be in store for us when the clouds lifted. You’ll get to see that view when we do.

Sterling Munro Boardwalk

There’s another trail that starts at the visitor center – River Loop Trail. That trail leads to the river – duh – and to the campground. It also gave us a more scenic way to get home than on the road. Somewhere along the trail we encountered definite signs of a bear. A HUGE sign. Holy guacamole! We learned later that there’s a bear that wanders the area for a few months every spring. The park staff even gave him a name – River.

Holy Bear Poop, Batman!!!

To give you an idea of how far out we are: the nearest gas station, convenience store, and restaurant is in Marblemount, 15 miles away; the nearest (larger than a convenience store) grocery store and doctor is in Concrete, about 35 miles away; the nearest pharmacy, (real) grocery store, car repair shop, and medical facility is in Sedro-Wooley, about 45 miles away; the nearest Walmart and Costco are about 55 miles and a 90 minute drive away. Holly’s goal is to have enough food on hand so we only have to grocery shop once a month. We’ll let you know how that goes.

On to our summer adventure in the beautiful North Cascades!


This entry was posted in Adventure, National Park, Volunteering and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s