Howard Miller Steelhead Park
The Wild and Scenic Skagit River | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane
Popular for county residents and river enthusiasts from across the world, Howard Miller Steelhead Park is adjacent to the Wild and Scenic Skagit River. Accessed via State Route 20 and named after a long-term Skagit County commissioner, Howard Miller features nearly 50 spaces for RVs and 10 walk-in tent sites.
Fishing and rafting are prevalent on the adjacent Skagit River, and a public boat ramp at the park helps facilitate these endeavors. Hiking and biking along the shore is also popular from the park, and the interpretive Wetland Wildlife Trail extends from Howard Miller before connecting to other trails in the area. Amenities at the campground include hot showers, clean restrooms, and a playground area.
Lower Valley Campground Stehekin
Sunset on Lake Chelan
At the northern tip of Lake Chelan, within the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, Stehekin is a small community only accessible by hiking trail, boat ride, or aquatic aircraft. The rustic North Cascades Lodge and adjacent Golden West Visitor Center are among the few man-made landmarks in Stehekin, as well as the savory Stehekin Pastry Company. To make the most of this scenic region, it’s recommended to take advantage of its great campgrounds.
Lower Valley Campground is the largest, land-based campground accessed from Stehekin, with 10 sites available, only a short walk from the visitor center and lodge. Overlooking Lake Chelan, Lower Valley is nothing short of a postcard place to pitch a tent. Stehekin also serves as a great place to explore the backcountry of the North Cascades, and the Pacific Crest Trail meanders throughout the area before terminating at the international border.
North Cascades Scenic Drives And Viewpoints
If you are short on time, a scenic drive on Highway 20 is a great way to see more of the park without logging extra miles. There are numerous viewpoints and scenic overlooks along Highway 20, each with its own unique perspective of the parks prominent peaks and remarkable lakes, streams, and rivers.
At mile marker 132, youll find Diablo Lake Overlook, which is a great place to enjoy the dazzling blue waters of Diablo Lake. Washington Pass Overlook at mile marker 162 is another great overlook at the highest point on Highway 20 at 5,477 feet. From here you can gawk at a series of majestic peaks that includes the infamous Liberty Bell.
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Camping Near North Cascades National Park Find A Free Campsite
Whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip, we’ve got you covered. You can simply use your smart phone’s GPS to find camping near you or even use our trip planner to plan your route from coast to coast.
Our community provides the best free camping information available. Free campgrounds can be hard to find. Freecampsites.net makes it easy. We give you a simple, map based search engine to find free and cheap camping areas. Community reviews and ratings provide you with up to date information and help you select the best camp site for your next camping trip.
This is a platform for sharing campgrounds and camp sites you have discovered. We are community driven, and while we will be adding many free camping spots, we hope that you will add some of your favorite camping places as well. By sharing camping information freely, we can all spend less time researching campgrounds, spend less money, and more time camping. If everyone contributes a few campsites, we’ll all have more places to go camping.
Please come back and let us know what you find!
We are not actively seeking Wal-Marts, truckstops or other parking lots and will not be adding very many of these. There are enough Wal-Mart and truck stop directories out there already. However, if a member of the community finds one of these locations to be useful for overnight RV parking and creates an entry, we may approve the listing.
Please come back and let us know what you find!
Camping In The Summer
Summer is the busiest time of year for camping in North Cascades National Park.
Most first-come first-serve campgrounds fill up before noon. Campers, especially those with families, should consider making advanced reservations.
Wildfires are a near-annual occurrence in the North Cascades. Check current wildfire reports for potential campground closures and information regarding air quality from smoke.
Because of the extreme forest fire danger, campfires are typically banned from mid summer through early fall in all North Cascades campgrounds.
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Hiking And Backpacking In North Cascades National Park
Hiking in North Cascades National Park is hard to beat. Its home to hundreds of miles of hiking and backpacking trails.
The Washington Trails Association is an excellent resource for finding hikes in the area. Their Essential Washington: 20 Must-Do Hikes is a good starting point.
Here are some of the best North Cascade National Park hikes for all skill levels:
Food Storage & Wildlife Safety
Never approach wildlife.
While many hikers and campers think this rule only applies to large mammals like bears, cougars, and wolves, it actually applies to all animal life in the park.
The same goes for feeding wildlife. Never intentionally feed animals or leave food outside unattended.
Follow all camping food storage best practices, whether youâre in a car campground or in the backcountry.
Most importantly, store all food and scented items in a hard-sided vehicle, approved food storage container, or suspended at least 10 feet above the ground.
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Free Camping In North Cascades National Park
Free camping in North Cascades National Park is surprisingly abundant.
Most of the parks car campgrounds require a small fee during the main season. All campgrounds which remain open during the off-season are free for intrepid winter campers. All backcountry campsites are free year-round with a backcountry permit.
Nearby North Cascades free camping areas include dispersed sites in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and near Baker Lake. Hozomeen Campground at the north of Ross Lake is also free year-round.
Another free camping option is to explore the many Sno Parks and Rest Areas along Highway 20. However, these are typically only for overnight stays in RVs and cars. Most donât allow tents, campfires, or the other normal trappings of camping.
Most of these free campsites are dispersed camping areas without any services , so get ready for boondocking.
In addition to our complete guide to free camping, FreeCampsites.net is one of the best resources to find free camping in the North Cascades.
Nearby Hotels Cabins Airbnbs
The Mt. Baker Hotel in Concrete is a popular jumping off point for exploring North Cascades National Park.
Another nearby option, on the other side of the park, is the Mazama Country Inn in the Methow Valley.
Many North Cascades visitors now search for nearby lodging, typically cabins and guesthouses, with Airbnb.
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How To Get Tonorth Cascades National Park
Located in the northwest part of Washington, the North Cascades National Park is a remote park near the US-Canadian border. Due to its remoteness, the national park has limited access points. North Cascades National Park and Ross Lake National Recreation Area can be accessed from State Route 20 . Many of northern parts of the park, including Hozomeen, Mount Shuksan, and Cooper Ridge, can be accessed from Silver-Skagit Road and State Route 542 . The only way to access the Ross Lake Shoreline is by a 37-mile gravel road from B.C. Highway 1 in Hope, British Columbia.
Other parts of the park, like Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, can only be accessed by foot or passenger ferry. Ferry service is available from Chelan on Route 97. For a unique experience, a float plane is another option. Stehekin can be accessed by foot on the Cascade Pass, Eagle Creek, and several other trailheads.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the closest airport to North Cascades National Park. You can reach the main entrance of the national park via Route I-5 in about two hours. Alternatively, you can access the park via BC-99/I-5 from Vancouver International Airport in under 2.5 hours.
North Cascades National Park Must
North Cascades National Park is brimming with must-see destinations.
But, thanks to the parkâs unique geography, layout, and lack of development, many of the most beautiful areas are difficult to access.
Fortunately, there are countless breathtaking sites within the national park complex that are easy to access by car or via a short hike.
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North Cascades National Park Campgrounds: Overview
There are ten total campgrounds inside of North Cascades National Park, outside of the backcountry campgrounds. Many are centered along the State Route 20 , but there are also a number near the Lake Chelan / Stehekin area and the Ross Lake area to the north. The latter two areas are more remote and will take a bit of work getting to, but reward those who are willing to make the effort with quiet and seclusion that can otherwise be hard to find in our normal lives.
Unsurprisingly, youll want to make sure you get reservations ahead of time if at all possible. Reservations open well in advance , but since there are only about 90 days of actual camping time in most of the campgrounds, they fill up very quickly. Not every campground takes reservations .
While reservations are the best way to go if you are a planner, many of the campgrounds offer first-come, first-served slots as well. Because some people stay multiple days, these usually require you to arrive at the campground early in the morning to have your best chance of getting a spot.
Once you get into the park, getting supplies for your camping vacation can be hard to do. Your best bet are the larger towns outside the park, such as Chelan Falls , the Skagit General Store and Winthrop to the east of the park.
If you need camping gear, then Winthrop, WA is a great option.
Winthrop/north Cascades National Park Koa
To the east of the national park is the popular Winthrop KOA.
Also known as the North Cascades National Park KOA, this bustling family campground is set on the Methow River just outside of Winthrop. It has numerous RV camping sites , spacious grassy tent areas, and KOA cabins .
A free shuttle ride is offered into town for those that wish to explore Western-themed Winthrop.
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Do I Need Camping Reservations
None of the backcountry, boat-in, or wilderness campgrounds in North Cascades National Park require advance reservations.
However, all overnight backpacking and camping within the national park complex does require a backcountry permit, a portion of which can now be reserved in advance through the backcountry permit reservation system.
The five drive-in car campgrounds in North Cascade National Park offer a combination of first-come first-served campsites and reservation campsites.
Those camping in the summer, especially at the campsites along the SR 20 corridor, should make advanced reservations through Recreation.gov.
The Complete Guide To Camping In North Cascades National Park
Camping in North Cascades National Park should be near the top of every outdoor fanatics camping bucket list.
Known for its stunning green-blue alpine lakes, soaring glacier-capped mountains, and seemingly endless expanses of evergreen forests, this Washington State national park is a natural wonderland for camping and backpacking.
It combines easy access along State Route 20 with ample hiking, backpacking, and boating opportunities that take you into immaculate, almost entirely unexploited wilderness.
Mix in dozens of great campgrounds, including hike-in and boat-in backcountry campgrounds, and itâs no wonder nearly one million visitors visit the North Cascades National Park Complex each year.
Here is our ultimate visitors guide to help plan your North Cascades National Park camping trip.
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Where To Buy Groceries/supplies
There are no grocery stores, convenience stores, or other places to buy supplies in North Cascades National Park.
Most visitors do their shopping before starting their trip.
Large grocery and convenience stores are located in the towns of Burlington and Winthrop .
Burlington has large chain stores like Fred Meyer and Safeway as well as a Walmart Supercenter and a selection of smaller convenience stores.
Winthropâs largest grocery store is a Thriftway Store. There are also a number of small convenience stores in town.
Closer to the west side of the park, youâll find a Red Apple Market in Concrete, the Skagit General Store in Rockport, and a few gas stations with limited supplies in Marblemount. On the east side is the family-run Mazama Store in Mazama.
The REI in Lynwood and the Cabelaâs in Tulalip are the best outdoor recreation stores to stock up on any forgotten camping or hiking supplies for those traveling to the park from Seattle.
How To Get There
Most visitors reach the park from Vancouver or Seattle, both roughly 3 hours away with traffic.
State Route 20 connects with Interstate 5 in Burlington to the west of the park. The highway continues east through the park where it connects to State Route 153 in Twisp. Most of the North Cascades National Park campgrounds are located along this highway.
The Hozomeen area can only be accessed by crossing an uncontrolled border from Canada into the United States near Hope, British Columbia.
The Stehekin area is best accessed by passenger ferry, private airplane or seaplane, or hiking in.
Hereâs more information on directions to North Cascades National Park.
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Camping In North Cascades
Greetings. Any advice as to the best campgrounds in North Cascades, and how full do the campgrounds get? I will be camping approximately 7/12 to 7/14. Thanks!
There are not alot of campgrounds in the North Cascades. I think there is only one or maybe 2.
Colonial Creek Campground
It looks like Colonial Creek might be the most practical. There are also some outside the park, including at Baker Lake.
The National Park sites don’t say much about the specifics of the campgrounds. If anyone has first hand info, it would be great to learn.
If you like backpacking instead of car camping, the north Cascades website is really helpful. Also, once you pick a hike – then you can check out the Washington Trails Association under trip reports to get the latest on trail conditions & bugs .
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Mineral Park Campground Editor’s Pick
Mineral Park Campground | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane
Accessed via the seasonal Cascade River Road and 17-mile drive from the town of Marblemount, Mineral Park Campground is surrounded by designated wilderness areas and dense forest landscapes. A great view of Mount Baker can be seen from the campground on clear days, and the Wild and Scenic Cascade River is a constant presence amid the campsites.
Best suited for tent campers and small recreational vehicles, and those who enjoy more remote settings, Mineral Park is split between a west and east zone with 21 total sites available. Vault toilets can be found at Mineral Park Campground, and overnight users will want to pack in all the water they need.
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Camping In North Cascades National Park: The 10 Best Spots
Camping is a popular pastime with people from all walks of life. Some prefer to pitch a tent in prime wilderness terrain, and others would rather vacation in a forested region with lots of amenities. Many consider these 10 campgrounds to be among the best camping in North Cascades National Park and the surrounding scenic areas.
The available campgrounds in this pristine forested park region range from primitive campsites located off the usual tourist grid all the way to luxury amenities and finer cabin accommodations found in resort style campgrounds. Many families travel the country via RVs or trailer campers of every size and description.
Whatever your favorite camping modes and styles, there is a perfect North Cascades National Park campground awaiting your arrival.
Colonial Creek South Campground
Colonial Creek South Campground in North Cascades National Park is a remote, yet bustling campground nestled in old growth forest. Located on the south side of State Route 20 near mile marker 130, there are 94 campsites that are surrounded by forest and located on Diablo Lake.
The campground is located on the southern side of State Route 20, with some campsites along the lakefront of Diablo Lake. The entire facility offers drinking water, flush toilets, garbage removal and some paved parking spaces, but most sites have uneven gravel parking. Each campsite offers a picnic table and campfire ring.
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North Cascade Camping Regulations
- Campsite occupancy is limited to eight people, three tents, and two vehicles per site.
- Camping is limited to 14 days from July 1 through Labor Day and to 30 days the rest of the year.
- Firewood, ice, gas, and other services are not available in the park complex.
- There is no dispersed camping in the park complex.
- Sites that are not reserved are available on a first-come, first-served basis