Camping in North Cascades National Park: The Extreme Scale

Where to sleep in the North Cascades, from easy to extreme.

By Allison Williams August 1, 2013 Published in the August 2013 issue of Seattle Met

Newhalem Creek Campground

 So you like the finer things in camping. Like being within walking distance of a general store, where you can reserve a campsite (for an extra fee), where large RVs are welcome. No judgment here.

Colonial Creek 

The whopping 142 sites on the shores of Diablo Lake are claimed on a first-come basis, but they fill up fast—car campers race to the old-growth forest, ranger programs, and the nicest services in the park (yep, that means flush toilets).


The good news: You can drive in. The bad news: You have to drive in via Hope, British Columbia, and rangers suggest packing a spare tire for the unpaved road. But there’s potable water and free camping on the northernmost end of Ross Lake.

Big Beaver Trail Camp

Though you’ll need a boat (or the water taxi run by Ross Lake Resort) to reach this spot about a third of the way up Ross Lake, there’s a dock, access to the dramatic Big Beaver Trail, a bear box for food, and maybe a little company—there are seven whole sites.

Desolation Trail Camp 

Feeling desolate? The single site, a mile below Kerouac’s old haunt of Desolation Peak, is hike-in only after a Ross Lake boat trip. Oh, and it’s BYOB: Bring Your Own Bear Canister. No water, unless you can find snow to melt, and, yeesh, no campfires. 


Published: August 2013








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