Thursday, August 2, 2012

North Cascades Overnight: Newhalem Creek Camground

As I recently told a friend, camping is a summer necessity.  Even if all you can manage is an overnight car camping instead of a backcountry trek, at least the air is fresh and often wifi-free.

I recently joined a lively group of musicians and outdoorsy folks at the woodsy Newhalem Creek Campground on the edge of North Cascades National Park. With no cell signal from my provider, I was truly unplugged for the weekend.

Which, I think, is a very good thing every now and then.

Sites are mostly first come, first served, but we had no trouble finding three adjacent sites on a sunny Friday early afternoon. At just $12 a night, it's hard to beat such frugal but scenic digs.

River loop walk at Newhalem Creek Campground
Set in a lowland forest on the banks of the Skagit River and within a short walk through the woods to the national park visitor center, this campground is a perfect base for day hikes in the North Cascades off State Route 20 or one of the Skagit tours nearby.

There was plenty to keep us busy for the afternoon--a walk through the woods to the visitor center, then along the river loop.  This lovely little stroll through the forest passes mossy woodlands and a stand of old-growth forest as it skirts close to the Skagit River, a green-blue torrent swollen with snowmelt.

Skagit Wild and Scenic River

Abundant and tart-sweet red huckleberries
After a tasty dinner cooked on a camp grill, the evening was for relaxing, music, laughing, going to a ranger talk, and sleeping in all that fresh mountain forest air.

In the Northwest, of course it's salmon on the grill

Ruthie is a mellow, happy camper

Despite the ranger's warnings, the pesky black bear sighted around the campground didn't make an evening appearance.  Whew!

There are many great campgrounds in the Northwest. What are some of your favorites?

When You Go
The Newhalem Creek Campground is in the Ross Lake National Recreational Area portion of the North Cascades National Park complex just a mile outside the City of Seattle's outpost community of Newhalem on State Route 20 (the North Cascades Highway),  at the base of the Skagit hydroelectric dams project.  It's about a 2-hour drive from the Seattle area.


Lisa said...

I agree, summer isn't summer without camping. Some favorite campgrounds of mine in the North Cascades are Silver Fir near Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak near Lake Wenatchee, and campgrounds along Mountain Loop Highway.

Anne said...

Those woods look cool and green, just the place to be during the coming weekend with temps near 90!

Lindsey said...

That dinner looks delicious!! I love camping.....

Lesley said...

Relaxing and lovely.

Anonymous said...

My family and I recently stayed at Colonial Creek campground and found it was delightful! We drove down to Newhalem campground to see the visitor center and upon leaving saw a black bear crossing the road at a swift pace. It was thrilling!

jill said...

I bet you saw the black bear that the campground host told us about!