• North Cascades Nationwide Park is free to go to all yr, making it a cheaper various to Olympic Nationwide Park.
  • With solely 40,000 guests in 2023, North Cascades affords a peaceable and quiet escape in comparison with the busy Olympic Nationwide Park.
  • The rugged granite mountains of North Cascades present a novel mountain expertise for avid hikers and climbers.

Washington state has three totally different nationwide parks, a few of the greatest points of interest within the Pacific Northwest. Amongst them, there is no such thing as a doubt that Olympic National Park is the preferred vacation spot of all of them. With practically three million guests in 2023, Olympic Nationwide Park was not solely essentially the most visited nationwide park in Washington, it was the tenth most-visited nationwide park within the U.S.

Olympic Nationwide Park has gained huge reputation over time due to its number of landscapes, together with seashores, mountains, and even a temperate rainforest. Whereas the number of scenic hikes through Olympic National Park are actually value exploring, some could discover themselves feeling a bit cramped amongst all of the vacationers.

For friends in search of one thing a bit totally different, and so much much less crowded, North Cascades National Park stands out as the good underrated various. With a few of the identical evergreen wonders, plus just a few surprises of its personal, North Cascades may be value skipping Olympic Nationwide Park for.


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Why Go to North Cascades As a substitute Of Olympic Nationwide Park

North Cascades is cheaper and fewer visited than Olympic Nationwide Park

On the subject of the nationwide parks throughout the U.S., it’s the pure magnificence that attracts folks in. These scenic wonders encourage folks to get outdoors and revel in a change of panorama. Whereas it’s these views that have a tendency to find out which nationwide park website folks will go to, there are some sensible causes vacationers ought to contemplate underrated North Cascades Nationwide Park over Olympic Nationwide Park.

Each parks are comparatively near Seattle, sitting just a bit over two hours outdoors the large metropolis (in reverse instructions). Along with being simply as near such a significant hub, there are just a few different logistical causes to choose North Cascades Nationwide Park over Olympic Nationwide Park.

North Cascades is Free to Go to

That is proper, North Cascades Nationwide Park is free to go to all yr spherical. North Cascades has pretty minimal buildings, and the charges collected for dock use at Lake Chelan and tenting within the park are sufficient to keep up the world.

Conversely, Olympic Nationwide Park fees $30 a car or $15 an individual. Whereas removed from being one of the crucial costly nationwide parks within the US to go to, the cash saved on the doorway charge may simply be sufficient to cowl a meal or two (or a shirt on the park reward store).

Washington Nationwide Park

Entrance Charge

Olympic Nationwide Park

$30/car OR $15/particular person

North Cascades Nationwide Park



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North Cascades is A lot Quieter

Contemplating Olympic Nationwide Park is among the hottest nationwide parks within the US, it might be stunning to be taught that North Cascades Nationwide Park is among the 10 least visited national parks in the country.

With simply 40,000 guests in all of 2023, friends are as more likely to run into mule deer and black bears as they’re different human guests. For friends hoping to take pleasure in some peace and quiet throughout the nationwide park go to, the underrated North Cascades Nationwide Park is undeniably the higher possibility.

Washington Nationwide Park

Total 2023 Visitors

Olympic Nationwide Park


North Cascades Nationwide Park


What Olympic Nationwide Park And North Cascades Have In Widespread

Visiting North Cascades Nationwide Park doesn’t suggest lacking out on the landscapes of Olympic Nationwide Park

Olympic Nationwide Park generates lots of fanfare with its number of landscapes, however a lot of them aren’t distinctive to this slice of Washington. In truth, a few of Olympic’s hottest sights, together with the evergreen forests, alpine lakes, and historical glaciers, might be noticed throughout North Cascades as effectively.

Lovely Alpine Lakes

Olympic Nationwide Park is dwelling to dozens of crystal-clear lakes, together with the favored Lake Crescent, Lake Ozette, and Lake Quinault. The lakes are a haven for boaters, kayakers, and fishers. The picturesque spring water, reflecting the colourful inexperienced forest, creates a few of the most scenic views within the park.

In style Lakes

Lake Crescent, Lake Ozette, Lake Quinault, Lake Cushman, Lunch Lake

Permitted Actions

Boating, Canoeing, Kayaking, Fishing, Paddleboarding, Rafting

North Cascades Nationwide Park has its personal lakeside paradise, with loads of boating choices of its personal. Lake Chelan is maybe essentially the most well-known of North Cascades’ lake points of interest, however guests can even take pleasure in Diablo Lake, Gorge Lake, and Ross Lake as effectively. Even higher? A day on the lake at North Cascades Nationwide Park is more likely to be a solo journey, provided that North Cascades sees 75 occasions fewer guests than Olympic Nationwide Park.

In style Lakes

Lake Chelan, Diablo Lake, Gorge Lake, Ross Lake

Permitted Actions

Boating, Canoeing Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing

Dramatic Glaciers

Along with offering distinctive recreation for guests, nationwide parks are designed to guard uncommon and fragile ecosystems. Within the northern state of Washington, this contains defending what stays of the area’s historical glaciers.

Each Olympic Nationwide Park and North Cascades Nationwide Park have glaciers inside their boundaries, ready to be appreciated.

On this case, North Cascades Nationwide Park outshines its extra well-known cousin. Whereas Olympic Nationwide Park and the Olympic Mountains have about 5 glaciers and snowfields, there are over 300 glaciers protected by North Cascades Nationwide Park.

Each parks have seen their glaciers shrink dramatically lately, however the scarring of those historical formations proceed to face as a few of the most distinguished buildings in each Washington nationwide parks.

What Makes North Cascades Nationwide Park Particular

There is no such thing as a mountain expertise fairly just like the undeveloped granite North Cascades mountain vary

Whereas there are many easy hikes in Olympic National Park, in addition to a number of scenic drives, North Cascades Nationwide Park has been left comparatively untouched. There are only a few amenities in North Cascades Nationwide Park, and even the paths are extra rugged backpacking forest hikes as an alternative of straightforward paved paths.

Excessive Mountain Landscapes

Sure, Olympic Nationwide Park has the Olympic Mountains, which give some scenic mountain views, and there are even loads of challenging hikes in Olympic National Park, however they can not compete with the rugged mountain expertise that North Cascades Nationwide Park supplies.

The North Cascades mountains, just like the Sierra Nevadas in Oregon and California, are manufactured from sturdy granite, fashioned by tectonic exercise way back. These mountains have been left virtually untouched, even after turning into a part of the nationwide park system.

Lots of the best hiking trails in North Cascades National Park wander up and alongside these mountains, offering dramatic elevated views of the forest and lakes under.

Avid mountain adventurers are a few of the greatest followers of North Cascades Nationwide Park, wanting to discover the paths with restricted car entry and virtually no different guests. Certainly, a lot of North Cascades can solely be reached on foot, with solely the North Cascades Highway offering car entry.

To additional illustrate simply how magnificent the North Cascades Mountains are, Mount Goode, the very best level within the park, is over 13,000 toes tall. In the meantime, the namesake Mount Olympus sits at a relatively demure 7,980 toes excessive.

These rugged mountains make sure actions, like mountain climbing and mountaineering, common within the comparatively undiscovered North Cascades Nationwide Park.

Mount Goode (North Cascades NP)

13,085 toes

Mount Olympus (Olympic NP)

7,980 toes


7 Best Hikes In Washington

Unforgettable out of doors adventures await on Washington’s greatest hikes, from lush forests and mountains to alpine lake vistas.

Olympic Nationwide Park is the crown jewel of Washington state, with dramatic views of each potential panorama. Sadly, excessive visitation numbers could make the expertise considerably difficult for some guests, who could also be in search of a extra enjoyable nationwide park expertise.

North Cascades Nationwide Park, one of many least-visited nationwide parks within the US, affords most of the identical points of interest, together with glaciers and lakes, whereas additionally offering a novel mountain expertise. Free to go to all yr, North Cascades Nationwide Park is Washington’s best-kept secret, and the proper various to Olympic Nationwide Park.

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