Each year thousands of drivers travel Washington State's breathtakingly beautiful North Cascades Highway (State Route 20), observing the region's alpine flora and fauna and its dramatic geologic features.
The North Cascades Highway, an illustrated natural history guide, helps travelers and readers to appreciate the deeper beauty behind the landscape. Organized as a series of stops at eye-catching sites along eighty miles of the highway, The North Cascades Highway reveals the geological story of each location.
Plate tectonics, rock formation, erosion, and glaciation are explored to show how the existing features of the North Cascades landscape came into being. The North Cascades Highway describes how miners, climbers, and poets have been inspired by the geology and terrain of the North Cascades. For travelers on the road, the easy-to-use guidebook format includes mileage, parking information, and detailed maps. Stunning color photographs allow armchair travelers to enjoy the journey as well.
Appendices provide detailed information on geologic time, rock types, glaciers, and the geologists who have decoded stories hidden in rock and ice. The North Cascades Highway provides a unique experience of a striking landscape that is also a rich, interwoven system of living things, climate, and geology.
Watch a trailer below:
Map of the North Cascades Highway
From Miners to Poets
A Shuffled Deck of Rocks
A Hidden Realm
Driving and Viewing Tips
100.0 Eldorado Peak
The Skagit: Lifeblood of Salmon and Eagle
102.9 Skagit Valley: Tales Below
Side Trip: Cascade River Road and Cascade Pass
120.8 Skagit Gorge
123–134 Three Dams: Gorge, Diablo, Ross
131.7 Diablo Lake
131.7 Colonial Peak and Pyramid Peak
133.5 John Pierce Falls
135.1 Ross Lake
139–147 Granite Creek Canyon
147.7 Crater Mountain
147–157 Upper Granite Creek
Forest and Meadow Treasure
157.7 Rainy Pass
Side Trip: Rainy Pass Area Trails
159–160 Stiletto Peak and McGregor Mountain
160.5 Cutthroat Peak
162.2 Washington Pass
169.0 The Eastern Approach
172.0 The Needles
179.6 Mazama Junction
A. Glaciers: Mountain Architects
B. Geologic Maps
C. Geologic Time
D. Geologic Timetable
E. Plate Tectonics
H. Geologic Detectives
Conservation Organizations with Ties to the North Cascades
Jack McLeod teaches physical, earth, environmental, and space sciences at Cascade High School in Everett, Washington, and has served as Science Coordinator for the Everett School District.
"His ruminations are brief but wide-ranging enough to spur curiosity and tempt the reader to do more exploration, whether in books or on foot. The North Cascades Highway should awaken a new perspective and remind us [...] what a privilege it is to have such ready access to such rugged mountain."
– Marcy Stamper, Methow Valley News, August 29 2013
"A beautifully photographed guide to the history, geology and notable spots along the spectacular highway through the North Cascades."
– Seattle Times, September 17, 2013
"The North Cascades Highway has outstanding photos and informative text that effectively deals with technical material in a nontechnical way."
– Ruth Kirk, coauthor of Archaeology in Washington