Start at the intersection of Highways 20 and 530.
You can find organic granola and frozen vegetables from this farm in stores, but the cherry-red farm stand sells fresh blueberries and strawberries and homemade, organic ice cream. cascadianfarm.com
The Eatery and Skagit River Resort
If you miss the annual road-opening treats (see below), visit Tootsie Clark’s family restaurant and cabins for meal-sized cinnamon rolls and comfortable multiroom cabins. northcascades.com
Glacier Peak Winery
Taste as many as nine wines in a single go (for a $5 fee) from a Burgundy--trained winemaker who grows his own pinot noir grapes. glacierpeakwinery.com
Que Car BBQ
The smoke wafts up from a red caboose parked in Marblemount, exuding the smell of pork ribs, brisket, and a meat masterpiece known as Momma’s Meatloaf Beefwich. quecarbbq.com
Cascade River Road
The 23-mile road spur leads to two national forest campgrounds (and private ones when those are full) and the Cascade Pass trailhead parking lot at the road’s end. Brake for bears!
North Cascades Visitor Center
Find all the trail info, relief maps, and clean bathrooms we expect from an official national park welcome building. nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit
Welcome to the orderly company town that abuts the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project, a series of three dams that provides Seattle with power. Also produced here: homemade fudge at the 91-year-old Skagit General Store. Kids can climb an old steam engine and a light show illuminates Ladder Creek Falls from dusk until midnight. Look for walking tour brochures at the Skagit Information Center. seattle.gov/light/tours/skagit
Gorge Creek Falls
Park and cross the pedestrian bridge for a misty waterfall view less than a quarter mile away, and keep an eye out for ravens and crows.
Drive right past sentrylike streetlamps and across the 83-year-old structure or book a boat tour of the area online—a guide will point out where the first Seattle City Light supervisor infested an island with monkeys. seattle.gov/light/tours/skagit/boat
North Cascades Environmental Learning Center
You must be a part of a multiday program, like a digital wildflower photography weekend for adults or a family naturalist weekend, to stay at the lakeside lodge; day visitors can take a self-guided tour. ncascades.org
Ross Lake Resort
You’ve got to work for this hotel check-in: Park, hike a mile to the Ross Lake shore, then call for the boat to take you to the floating cabins with killer views and fishing. rosslakeresort.com
Ross Lake Overlooks
The giant 23-mile-long lake that cleaves the North Cascade National Park is actually a reservoir formed by the Ross Dam; boats can access its trout-filled waters via Diablo Lake.
There are nature education signs at this view pullout, but look up to take in one last view of the North Cascades National Park—you’re about to exit into the equally wild Okanagan National Forest.
Washington Pass Overlook
Once you’re over this 5,477-foot pass, you’re truly in Eastern Washington, as both the colors (more browns and tans) and vegetation (golden larches are magnificent in early fall) attest.
The swankiest sleep on Highway 20 is in this lodge adorned with log porches outside and a stone fireplace indoors; a heli-skiing outfit operates out of the recreation center. freestoneinn.com
The Mazama Store
This small-town general store sells everything from espresso to homemade doughnuts to kitchen tools; it has an outdoor sports store and picnic tables out back. themazamastore.com
Stay in the prettiest trailers you’ll ever see reimagined as modern cabins, each with a wood-burning fireplace and all positioned as a “herd” in a large field just off the highway. rollinghuts.com
Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe
Welcome to Winthrop, the Old West town that has had the wooden sidewalks and rectangular storefronts only since the 1970s; the shop dishes candy and 40 flavors of ice cream. sherissweetshoppe.com
Published: August 2013