The North Cascades Highway is one of the most scenic stretches of road in the entire country. It doesn’t take too long out on the road to see just why so many people head that way each and every year. The truth is, from east to west, there is so much to see that it takes most people more than one visit there to see everything. You better visit during the warmer months though, because not long after the snow starts to fall, there is usually a North Cascades Highway closure in place.
Along this route you’ll find small cozy communities, historic company towns, scenic viewpoints, tranquil mountain lakes, refreshing rivers, impressive waterfalls, calming creeks, fun hiking trails, great tasting restaurants, and inviting places to spend the night. There’s a lot to see and do along the North Cascades Highway, but here are five great places that stood out to us recently.
Diablo Lake Overlook
High up on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains, Diablo Lake Overlook provides the kind of views that you come to the North Cascades Highway. It has plenty of parking, some restrooms that are a necessity out in the middle of nowhere, and some incredible stunning views. You have the turquoise water of Diablo Lake and the high mountain peaks as well. Bring your camera and prepare to spend some time enjoying some of the most gorgeous views you’ve ever seen.
Newhalem is a company town built for, and still housing, workers from Seattle City Light and the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project. Most of the original buildings are still there and driving through the town gives you a good indication of what life was like all those years ago. The original general store, since remodeled, is still in business and if you’re heading east this is the last place to stop and get some food and drink. There are other attractions there too including a historic locomotive, the Trail of the Cedars, Ladder Creek Falls, and the Gorge Powerhouse. This is a fun stop on the North Cascades Highway.
Gorge Creek Falls
Gorge Creek Falls is easily seen by driving across the grated decked bridge that spans the gorge it falls into. It’s better seen though if you stop across the street at the Gorge Creek Overlook. You not only get access to the walkway across the bridge and the great view of the waterfall, but you can also take the path on the south side of the highway that leads to views of Gorge Lake and Gorge Dam. This is another place on the North Cascades Highway you don’t even want to get out of your car for if you don’t have your camera with you.
Que Car BBQ – Marblemount
The drive across the North Cascades Highway is a long one and sooner or later you’re going to need something to eat. There are a lot of wonderful picnic areas to stop at along the way, but for a unique experience, stop off at the Que Car BBQ in Marblemount. This awesome little barbecue joint is operated right out of a remodeled caboose. When you exit the car you’ll immediately be hit with the smell of fresh made barbecue. That’s topped by the taste though as everything on the menu helps make this unique dining experience even better. You’re sure to love your stop at the Que Car BBQ.
Ovenell’s Heritage Inn – Concrete
Located in Concrete, a small but inviting town right on the Skagit River, Ovenell’s Heritage Inn is another of the many memorable stops on the North Cascades Highway. This is one of the best places to spend the night at on the Cascade Loop. Ovenell’s Heritage Inn features rental cabins and guest houses in a remote setting that offers that perfect peace and quiet experience many vacationers are seeking when they head into the mountains. They really paid attention to detail there with each of the lodging options extensively decorated and immaculately cleaned. You will not be disappointed with what you find inside your cabin or vacation house there. This is also a real working farm which really adds to the atmosphere. You can see numerous farm animals as well as take the time to stroll the trails that lead past pastures and along the beautiful Skagit River. Spending a long weekend at Ovenell’s Heritage Inn is a great opportunity to make some fun memories when visiting the North Cascades Highway.