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Popular backcountry campsites in North Cascades will take reservations this summer

A trail winds up an arm of Sahale Mountain, off the Cascade Pass trail, to views of Pelton Peak (left), Yawning Glacier, and Magic Mountain, at North Cascades National Park. The park announced it’s trying out a new reservation system this summer for some of its most popular backcountry campsites.
A trail winds up an arm of Sahale Mountain, off the Cascade Pass trail, to views of Pelton Peak (left), Yawning Glacier, and Magic Mountain, at North Cascades National Park. The park announced it’s trying out a new reservation system this summer for some of its most popular backcountry campsites. chutton@bhamherald.com

Campers in North Cascades National Park will soon be able to reserve sites in some of the park’s most popular areas, the park announced Friday.

Under the new program, the park said, visitors will take reservations for 60 percent of the campsites in the following areas:

▪ Ross Lake, including the East Bank Trail

▪ Diablo Lake

▪ Copper Ridge area, including ridge camps and Chilliwack Valley camps

▪ Cascade Pass area, including Sahale, Pelton Basin, Basin Creek, Johannesburg and Cottonwood

▪ Stehekin area – Lakeview, Purple Point and Harlequin

▪ Climbing areas – all cross-country zones around Mount Shuksan, Forbidden and Sharkfin Peaks, including Boston Basin, Eldorado and Mount Triumph

The park will take reservation requests between March 15 and May 15 on its website, nps.gov/noca/. Click the “reserve” link in the menu bar. Reservations can be made for camping between May 15 and Sept. 30, and can only be made online, the park said.

We wanted to start with the places with the highest demand, but there are still a lot of unknowns. We just really wanted to roll this out as best we could with the resources we had on hand, but once we see the response, we’ll figure out what works best.

Rosemary Seifried, supervisor for North Cascade National Park’s wilderness information center in Marblemount

The change has been in the works for several years, said Rosemary Seifried, supervisor for the park’s wilderness information center in Marblemount.

The idea, she said, was to make those popular areas of the park more accessible to people who haven’t been able to get those spots in the past.

The remaining 40 percent of the campsites in those areas are set aside for walk-up permits, the park said. This means people who would rather plan day-of trips based on the weather may still be able to camp at other sites in those areas, or elsewhere in the park, Seifried said.

The park operated entirely on reservations in the 1990s, Seifried said, but did away with that system when reservations too often were changed because of the weather. Aspects of the new program could change, she added.

“We wanted to start with the places with the highest demand, but there are still a lot of unknowns,” Seifried said. “We just really wanted to roll this out as best we could with the resources we had on hand, but once we see the response, we’ll figure out what works best.”

The $20 fee for reservations will cover the added staffing costs necessary to process them, Seifried said.

The park saw a yearly average of about 34,000 overnight stays in the early 2000s, Seifried said. That average has jumped to 44,000 since 2011, a 29 percent increase.

How much of and which parks will take reservations were corrected Feb. 11, 2017.

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