Highway 20

North Casades Highway
  Into the Mountain Heart
  from Sedro Woolley to Washington Pass

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Route Map

Recommended Stops

A Sedro-Woolley Headquarters for Cascades National Park Complex and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, information center and bookstore.

B Concrete During the early 1900s, Concrete was a bustling hub of Skagit Valley's logging industry. Start track two on your disc after you cross Baker River.

C Rockport Confluence of the Sauk and Skagit rivers. Eagles flock here in winter to feed on salmon. Stop at Howard Miller Steelhead Park to see a homesteader's cabin and native canoe. Rockport State Park holds a grove of towering Douglas fir.

D Marblemount A former supply and social hub for North Cascades mining activity during the late 1800s and early 1900s, Marblemount remains the gateway to "America's Alps." The Cascade Pass road intersects State Route 20 at the east end of Marblemount. If you're planning on hiking and camping in the North Cascades, the National Park Service Wilderness Ranger station in Marblemount is the place to get your backcountry permits. The town is also the last stop for gas before the mountains begin.

E Power and the River Power lines along the road transmit electricity to Seattle in less than a second. The free-flowing Skagit River is a designated Wild and Scenic River.


F National Park Visitor Center, Newhalem Rock Shelter, and Newhalem North Cascades National Park Visitor Center has interpretive exhibits and a knowledgeable staff of rangers to field your questions. Visit Newhalem Rock Shelter, one of Washington's important archaeological sites. Historic town of Newhalem is home to Seattle City Light and the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project.

G Skagit River Gorge When the Cordilleran Ice Sheet dammed the Skagit River some fifteen thousand years ago, the Skagit River flooded over a mountain pass and carved this narrow gorge. In the 1910s and 1920s, Seattle City Light engineers saw this narrow gorge as a perfect location for hydroelectric dams.

H Diablo A Seattle City Light town built for workers, Diablo is home to the incline railway and the towering Diablo dam. Sourdough Mountain lookout, where poets such as Gary Snyder once worked, is high above.

I Diablo Lake Overlook This pullout has a grand vista along the highway. Glaciers cap the mountains high above you, and rock flour made by glacial scouring fills Diablo Lake, giving it the color of brilliant jade.

J Ross Lake and Prospectors Ross Lake is the largest lake in the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project. The Skagit River once meandered here before plunging into the gorge. Prospectors passed through this area before finding gold in Ruby Creek. The shanty mining town of Ruby City still lies beneath Ross Lake.

K Climbing toward the Cascade Crest The subalpine forest gradually dominates as you ascend. This was the heart of the high Cascade mining country during the late 1800s.

L Rainy Pass and the Cascade Crest At 4855 feet, Rainy Pass is the Cascade Crest. The 2600 mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, crosses the highway here. Once higher than Washington Pass, Rainy Pass was eroded more by the Cordilleran Ice Sheet than Washington Pass and is now about 600 feet lower.

M Washington Pass At 5477 feet, Washington Pass is the highest point on the highway. Towering Liberty Bell Mountain and the jagged Early Winter Spires are made of Golden Horn Granite. From the lookout near the parking area, you can catch your first glimpse into the dry lands of Eastern Washington.

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