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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 17:30 EDT

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park is located in the state of Washington in the United States and was established in 1968. The park holds 504,781 acres and is the largest of three national park areas known as the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. It once contained 318 glaciers, but all of these have retreated at a fast rate and many glaciers have completely disappeared. The largest remaining glacier is Boston Glacier, but other large glaciers include Redoubt, Neve, and McAllister.

North Cascades National Park holds a variety of ecosystems that support thousands of animal and plant species. It is thought that this park holds the largest variety of species of all the U.S. National Parks,  with plant species like vascular plants, fungi, and 236,000 acres of old growth forests. The park is home to many animal species including grizzly bears, moose, bald eagles, lynxes, wolves, and mountain lions. The animals and plants in the park are threatened by the changing ecosystem, which is caused by the warming that has melted the glaciers.

North Cascades National Park can be accessed by Cascade River Road or the Upper Stehekin Valley Road, both of which are made of gravel. Because most of the park is comprised of the Stephen Mather Wilderness, signs of human encroachment, like buildings or roads, are not common. Visitors often partake in backpacking, hiking, or mountain climbing. One of the most popular attractions in the park, known as Cascade Pass, can be accessed by a four mile trail and was once used a traveling road by Native Americans. Popular mountains for rock climbers include Eldorado Peak and Mount Triumph. Visitors can stay in the neighboring cities of Sedro-Woolley, Washington or Winthrop.

Image Caption: Ladder Creek and Neve Glaciers, Snowfield Peak, in North Cascades National Park. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library/Wikipedia

North Cascades National Park