The North Cascades – the Alps of North America

The North Cascades – the Alps of North America

I really had a good time during Independence Day and set a good final point to my stay in Seattle. For now, I headed back to Canada. Indeed I didn’t drive the direct way but drove through the beautiful North Cascades and the prairies behind them. I fueled up my van for a cheap price once more and started my way north. The view already on Mount Baker I drove off the Highway 5 and followed the crystal clear Skagit River up into the mountains. For this day I didn’t plan to do a hike, however, I still didn’t want to just drive through the North Cascades National Park. Because of that I was stopping at lots of viewpoints and informed myself about the park in the Visitor Center. The Skagit River, which the road followed through the park, was actually dammed by some impressive dams, which formed nice lakes.

One of the large dams along the Skagit River.

The most impressive one is the Diablo Lake, which has a gorgeous blue color caused by the glacier meltwaters. The mostly dry climate gave all of the landscape a kind of Mediterranean touch.

The Diablo Lake in the North Cascades National Park.

Those naming the North Cascades the American Alps must’ve been to South Tyrol I guess. Good anyways, it’s beautiful there, too. With increasing height and distance to the sea, it got drier and drier. Only at the very top of the Washington Pass, I drove through some snow fields. The Washington Pass is the divide between the Skagit River watershed and the Columbia River watershed, what meant for me, that from now on it would only go downwards.

The Washington Pass as seen from the Viewpoint.

I took some pictures from the viewpoint and there it goes. Turning on the engine brakes and let it roll! For a long time, this worked quite well until I reached the flat prairie landscapes behind the coastal mountains. Here, horse ranches, cattle farms and irrigated fruit plantations dominated the dry, sparse landscape.

Hard to believe that I was driving through humid, coastal rainforests only a couple of hours ago. Now everything was dry.

Obviously, the sun was burning down really strong here again and I was sweating a lot in my car. To Nelson, B.C, I would make it anymore on that day. But probably I could still make it to the border. So I drove on and on through the steppes until there was a road closure in front of me. And that here in the outback! Seriously? By that, I had to take a 30-kilometer detour. I couldn’t change it, so whatever, playing good music and just go on. On and on through the dry hills and the wild western villages. It really took forever, but the landscape was still nice.

Rivers were the lifelines for vegetation in this dry landscape.

At about eight in the evening I passed the border and shortly afterward found a nice place to park my car and spend the night there. 600 kilometers were more than enough for that day. But it’s exactly like my mom was telling me before my big trip: Only driving through Amerika is quite fun already, as there’s so much to see along the road.


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