From northern California to British Columbia, the Cascades range is one of the most notable mountain ranges in the west. It is the home to peaks such as Mount Shasta, Lassen Peak, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mt. Baker. Many of the peaks found here are volcanic and not always dormant as once believed. Divided into three major sections, Washington State and British Columbia are home to the North Cascades, a mountain range that earned the nickname The American Alps because of its pristine beauty. jagged mountain peaks and hundreds of glaciers create an alpine atmosphere, slowly draining into dozens of waterfalls and streams that feed the forests of the lower elevations. Preserved amid dozens of national forests, wildernesses and a Canadian provincial park, North Cascades National Park lets visitors take a walk on Washington's wild side.
Efforts to create a national park here were a long time coming. Residents expressed a desire to preserve the area nearly 125 years ago, but conflicts between those with vested interests in the park’s resources as well as infighting in the government would take up more than 25 years before a national park was officially located here. Oddly enough, the park only draws 12 percent of the visitors attracted to the nearby Ross Lake National recreation Area and just over half of the amount of visitors who stop by the adjoining Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. All three areas are managed by the park. Today, North Cascades remains an undiscovered gem of Washington’s wilderness.
Things have not always been easy for the denizens of this national park. The Native tribes who flourished here for centuries found themselves driven off by loggers, prospectors and other settlers hoping to get a last glimpse of the old west in this new frontier. Pillaging of the area’s natural resources prompted conservationists and officials to campaign for the preservation of this park and its natural beauty before more devastation could occur. Even now, work is underway to restore damaged ecosystems and preserve the pristine beauty surrounding America’s Mount Olympus.
The serene beauty of this mountain belie the danger it poses to the entire Puyallup River Valley. Mount Rainier is part of the same range of volcanic mountains as Lassen Peak, Mount Shasta, Mount Hood, and the most infamous Mount St. Helens. Rainier is one of 16 volcanoes on the Decade Volcano list, meaning it is could pose a volcanic hazard to thousands of people. For now, things remain peaceful in Wonderland and have been for more than 115 years.
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