Before we headed east, we detoured through the small town of La Conner. Known for its Rainbow Bridge, Victorian buildings and arts community, La Conner seemed to be a charming place and one to return to. We drove through the downtown area and passed by some of the fields that had been carpeted with glorious tulips just last month. The Skagit Valley is home to the largest commercial bulb industry outside of Holland, and it must be a sight to behold when the tulips are blooming.
|Downtown La Conner|
|Great Victorian Architecture|
The North Cascades Scenic Highway, one of the nation’s most spectacular mountain drives, was our route today. The drive was magnificent, even though the mountains were mostly obscured by rain, fog and low-hanging clouds. The North Cascades have long been known as the North American Alps, a fitting description for this rugged, wild and steep mountain range. There are more glaciers here than anywhere outside Alaska.
Most of these mountains are included within North Cascades National Park. The park is primarily wilderness, and the highway doesn’t actually go through the park. In fact, it is almost impossible to drive to the park. The main highway actually passes through the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, which encompasses three beautiful lakes that were created when dams were constructed here before the national park was established in 1968. I’m not even sure we touched the park, although we learned about it through the excellent interpretive exhibits at the Visitor Center.
|The Picket Range Is Usually Visible from the Visitor Center|
|The Snow Never Melts on Some of the Peaks|
|Waterfalls Were Flowing Freely|
As we climbed higher in elevation, we once more encountered snowbanks along the sides of the road. The highway is closed in the winter and had only reopened ten days ago. We descended into a lovely valley on the dry side of the Cascade Range, and almost immediately, the rain began to lessen and the sun soon peeked out from behind the clouds. I think I like the dry side of the Cascades.
|At the High Point on the Highway|
|Now, Where Do We Go?|
(Most of the Viewpoints and Trailheads Are Still Snowbound)
|A Wild and Rugged Part of the Country|