North Cascades Photography – Winter on the Cascade Loop
The severity of winter in Western Washington is all about elevation. The lowlands usually get very little snow, not counting this year of course! And the mountains get slammed. Several of the mountain passes in Washington close in winter due to snow avalanche conditions. The North Cascades Highway, SR 20, is one of them.
Crossing the North Cascade range at Washington Pass (5,477 ft el.) the North Cascades Highway closes each fall, usually mid November, and reopens each spring mid to late May.
On the west side the highway is gated for the winter at Colonial Creek Campground (milepost 131). Depending upon the severity of the snow it is usually gated about a mile further east, just past the parking area for the Diablo Lake Overlook.
As I drive up the valley quick peaks of the mountains pop into view. This is from a spot near Cascadian Farms.
The main visitors center for the North Cascades National Park is in Newhalem. Just behind the visitors center is a short trail to a great view of the Picket Range, a particularly rugged section of the Park.
Diablo Dam and Pyramid Peak make a perfect spot for sunset images!
The road is gated just beyond Colonial Creek Camp Ground. There is plenty of parking and easy access for snowmobiles and anyone wanting to hike along the snow covered (and closed) highway.
Its a winter wonderland out there, but I can’t wait for warm temps and wildflowers!