John Muir, known affectionately as “Father of the National Parks” once said, “the mountains are calling, and I must go.” If those words resonate with you, a trip to the magnificent mountains of North Cascades National Park is in order.
Before you heed the call of the mountains, take some time to plan for the trails ahead. Take in the helpful information about things to do, when to visit and the best RV campgrounds in North Cascades National Park.
All that and more awaits in this guide to RV camping North Cascades National Park!
North Cascades National Park Facts
Traveling to new places expands your horizons. These North Cascades National Park facts expand your knowledge and appreciation of the enchanting region. Turn these fun facts into North Cascades trivia questions for the road.
Over 300 glaciers rest inside North Cascades National Park. This makes North Cascades the most heavily glaciated area in the United States, apart from Alaska. The gradual movement of glaciers alters the landscape of the park.
The grandeur of North Cascades served as inspiration for the work of poets and authors in the 1950s. Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen are a few of the noteworthy writers who drew inspiration from the area's beauty.
Goode Mountain marks the highest point in North Cascades National Park. Even though the mountain rises at an elevation of 9,199 feet, it cannot be seen from any road. Only adventurous hikers and climbers can gaze upon the soaring peak.
The national bird of America, the bald eagle, is present in North Cascades National Park. The Skagit River attracts hundreds of bald eagles each winter as salmon fill the waters.
Hikers have no shortage of options at North Cascades National Park. Hundreds of miles of trails run through the park, giving visitors a wide selection of trail options. Waterfront views draw hikers of all skill levels since North Cascades is home to many lakes and waterfalls.
You’re now equipped with some fast facts about the park. The next stop on our guide is all about North Cascades National Park RV camping locations. Here we go!
Best North Cascades National Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
North Cascades is a remote, vibrant location situated in Northwestern Washington along the US-Canada border. Soak in the serenity without sacrificing the comforts of home by RV camping in North Cascades National Park.
Below are five North Cascades National Park RV campgrounds that you can roll into during your visit.
Newhalem Creek Campground
Amenities: First on the list of North Cascades National Park RV campgrounds is Newhalem Creek. This campground is located inside the park and is within walking distance of the visitor center. The campground has drinking water, flush toilets and garbage and recycling services. Newhalem Creek Campground is located on the banks of the Skagit River, making it a popular destination for campers.
Capacity: This site has 107 sites, with 45 sites that can accommodate large RVs.
More information: Newhalem Creek Campground
Howard Miller Steelhead Park
Amenities: If you’re searching for RV camping near North Cascades National Park, Howard Miller Steelhead Park is just 20 minutes away. This 88-acre park offers a plethora of outdoor diversions, including fishing, horse trails and wildlife viewing. RVers will appreciate the electrical hook-ups and dump stations on the grounds.
Capacity: There are 45 RV-friendly sites available at this campground.
More information: Howard Miller Steelhead Park
Lower Goodell Group Campground
Amenities: Lower Goodell is a North Cascades National Park RV site that offers a private and secluded campground with easy access to hiking trails. There is no drinking water at this campground, so campers must bring their own supply. The campground offers picnic tables for meals in the great outdoors and fire pits for roasting smores and warming up after a day of exploration.
Capacity: There are two large group sites at this campground. Each site can accommodate up to 50 people.
More information: Lower Goodell Group Campground
Alpine RV Park
Amenities: Alpine is one of the North Cascades National Park RV parks that is packed full of amenities. If full hook-ups for RVs, a laundry room and free WiFi sound good to you, Alpine RV Park is a great option. There’s even a wooded area behind the campsites for dogs to romp in.
Capacity: There are 26 grass sites for Rvs at Alpine RV Park.
More information: Alpine RV Park
Winthrop/ North Cascades KOA
Amenities: Not all North Cascades National Park RV sites are in remote locations. Take in the charm of the small town of Winthrop, Washington. Here, you can explore art galleries, restaurants, shops and more. The campground offers 50 amp hook-ups, tours of the area, bike rentals, free WiFi and a heated pool from May to October.
Capacity: The campground does not specify the number of sites. Use the online booking tool to check availability during your ideal travel dates.
More information: Winthrop/ N. Cascades National Park KOA
Best Time to Visit North Cascades National Park for RV Camping
After touring the North Cascades National Park RV sites above, you’re ready for the next phase of trip preparation. Let’s walk through winter, spring, summer and fall to uncover the best time to visit North Cascades!
In late November, winter rolls into North Cascades National Park. Heavy snowfall leads to road and highway closures during this season. For those willing to brave the cold, winter sports are abundant. Skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing are a few of the wintry pastimes for visitors to enjoy.
Large sections of the park are inaccessible in the winter due to snow and ice. This includes trails and lakes. December and January come in at below freezing, with average temperatures in the low 30s. In short, winter in North Cascades is a rugged season.
March, April and May make up springtime in North Cascades National Park. The weather is still chilly, with average highs of 41, 48 and 55 degrees each month. But the park is ready with opportunities of horseback riding, ranger-led programs and kayaking on Lake Chelan.
The North Cascade Highway reopens, and the park fills with signs of life in the spring. Melting snow gives force to rushing waterfalls, including Gorge Creek Falls. Valley wildflowers carpet the ground at lower elevations, creating picturesque scenery. Many trails remain closed due to lingering snow, but there are still hiking opportunities in the spring.
The best time to visit North Cascades National Park is from mid-June to early September. This period offers open trails as snow is only present in the highest regions of the park. Boating along Ross Lake and exploring previously closed trails are two popular summer activities.
June is the first official month of summer, with average daily temperatures ranging from the 40s to the low 60s. July and August are the warmest months of the year and feature temperatures in the 70s. According to the National Park Service, temperatures at Stehekin (a small town in the heart of the North Cascades) can reach the 90s in the summer.
Fall is an ideal time to avoid crowds and experience the rich hues coating the trees in North Cascades. To see the best of the colors before the temperatures tumble and leaves begin to fall, visit in early or mid-October.
The average temperature in October hovers around 58 degrees. The start of October offers pleasant hiking weather. The crisp and comfortable climate paired with the colorful autumn trees makes for a memorable trek. In November, the fall begins to give way to the chill of winter. Temperatures fall to the mid-30s. So bundle up for your fall trip to North Cascades National Park!
Things to Do in North Cascades National Park
Adventure awaits beneath the snow-capped peaks of North Cascades National Park. Get ready to see subalpine meadows, brilliant blue lakes as you explore the park's diverse ecosystems. Here are just a handful of things to do in North Cascades National Park:
Take a hike. North Cascades is known as a backpacker’s paradise. With loads of trail options and breathtaking scenery, the park lives up to its name. If a day hike is more your speed, there are numerous trail options. Thunder Creek Trail is a hike through the park's center, taking explorers over a turquoise lake, among other natural wonders.
Opt for a two-wheeled journey. Cyclists will be pleased to know that large areas of the park and surrounding regions are bike-friendly. For an easy ride, hop on a bike and explore the lower Stehekin Valley. If you’re looking for a challenge, try the cycling route along the North Cascades Highway.
Watch eagles soar. Pack your binoculars and get ready for the annual Skagit Bald Eagle Festival. This month-long celebration includes a range of activities from nature walks to birds of prey presentations and more. But the stars of the show are the bald eagles that flock to the area each winter. You can see them in action along the Skagit River in January.
Visit Diablo Lake. The striking blue waters of Diablo Lake mesmerize those who lay eyes on it. You can have lunch with a view of Diablo Lake, thanks to the lookout point that features picnic tables and viewing areas. In the summer, the Diablo Lake Trail is open to visitors. Plus, you have the option to hike one way and take a ferry ride on the way back.
Tips on Visiting North Cascades National Park
By now, you can practically hear the rushing waterfalls and picture the impressive peaks of North Cascades National Park. Because we want you to get the most out of your trip, we’ve compiled a list of tips for your visit.
Adventurer tip number one is to be prepared with supplies for your visit to the park. There are no grocery stores or convenience shops inside the park. Stock up on food, water and other necessities before you arrive. Otherwise, you’ll have to drive back and forth from town to secure the essentials for your stay.
Next up is a tip that will save you some confusion; North Cascades National Park is actually three different regions. Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Ross Lake National Recreation Area and North Cascades National Park all make up what’s known as The North Cascades National Park Complex. Each section of the complex offers amazing views and exploring options.
You must have a backcountry permit to stay in the park overnight. This regulation applies all year. The purpose is to keep track of visitor count to prevent overcrowding and provide pleasant experiences for campers. The National Park Service explains backcountry permits in detail along with explanations on where to obtain them.
You’ll like this last tidbit of information. Entrance to the park is free for all visitors! While many national parks charge admissions, North Cascades National Park is open to the public at no cost. Yay!
RV Rental for North Cascades National Park
It appears that we’ve reached the last stop on our guide to RV camping in North Cascades National Park. From fun facts about the park to the best places to stay, we covered a lot of important tips before you hit the road. Now the only thing left to do is find an RV rental for North Cascades National Park!
With a Cruise America RV rental, you’ll have all the essentials at your fingertips. Amenities include a shower, gas cooktop, fresh water toilet, generator and more. Plus, pets are welcome to come along! Whether you want an RV for a one-way trip or are in search of a long-term RV rental, Cruise America can accommodate your needs.
Rent a Cruise America RV today for your trip to North Cascades National Park!