3 ways to sample the wonders of the North Cascades

In Diablo Lake, there is an island where monkeys once roamed.

J.D. Ross, the second superintendent of Seattle City Light and an enthusiastic proponent of the three dams on the Skagit River, put them there to entertain visitors he hoped would support the power project.

The monkeys are long gone, but gimmicks were never necessary to impress visitors to the North Cascades. Towering peaks, unbelievable turquoise waters and a fascinating cultural and natural history are more than enough incentive to visit. Here are three tours that will give you a good introduction to the region.

Newhalem

Newhalem was a company town started by Seattle City Light in 1919. A must-see is the light show on Ladder Creek Falls. Ladder Creek pours powerfully through a narrow channel that it’s carved out over time. From dusk to midnight, lights focused on the falls rotate through an array of colors: shocking, dramatic red shifts to purple and then a calm, rich blue. The show is on a 15-minute cycle, and it’s mesmerizing.

Also in Newhalem is the North Cascades Visitor Center. Stop there to ask questions or plan the rest of your trip.

Skagit Power Tours

Take a guided shuttle tour and check out the scenery of the North Cascades while seeing how electricity is created. You can go inside the Gorge Powerhouse, where you will be dwarfed by the turbines. Then you’ll visit the city of Diablo below the Diablo Dam. See the Diablo Powerhouse and the incline lift. The lift, no longer operational but still fascinating, once took rail cars one by one sideways up Sourdough Mountain. The tour includes lunch in Diablo. It’s $40, and visitors must be 13 or older. Tours run on Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 14. Call 360-854-2589 to make reservations.

Diablo Lake Boat Tours

On this tour, you’ll get to see Monkey Island for yourself. Even better, you get to see the turquoise waters up close. You’ll start at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, where you’ll eat lunch. Then you’ll take a boat tour up Diablo Lake, getting a one-of-a-kind view of the shore. The tour ends at Ross Dam, which has a bizarre appearance, kind of like a waffle. It was built that way so it could later be made taller, but the plan to increase its height was scrapped, so it remains in its original form. Tours are from 10:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays through Sept. 15. Tickets are $18-$38. Call 360-854-2589 to make reservations.

More in Life

Heavy Hollywood headlines: Robert Horton’s movies preview

In the midst of all the sexual-misconduct allegations, the holiday film season offers some relief.

‘Love, Chaos and Dinner’ an Teatro ZinZanni’s original show

The “Parsian cabaret” is a superb circus dinner theater operation in Marymoor Park through April 29.

Denzel Washington’s remarkable performance isn’t helped by plot

The actor is convincing as an awkward, eccentric lawyer, but unconvincing contrivances pile up.

‘The Breadwinner’ animation is strong, but its story is stilted

The Cartoon Saloon film never lets you forget that you’re here to learn an important lesson.

Pianist Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major on Nov. 26 with the Everett Philharmonic Orchestra.
Young pianist to perform Mozart with Everett Philharmonic

Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will play the piano at the Music for the Imagination concert.

Liz Oyama as Belle, Jimmi Cook as Gaston and John Han as Lefou star in the Edmonds Driftwood Players production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” opening Nov. 24. Magic Photo
In Driftwood’s ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ Belle has girl-power bend

Edmonds Driftwood Players presents Disney’s adaptation of the fair tale Nov. 24 through Dec. 17.

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with reads, listens

Pay tribute to the contributions of indigenous people to national history and culture.

Franken’s rising political star obscured by accusations

He faces an ethics investigation after allegations he had unwanted physical contact with four women.

Johnny Cash boyhood home considered for historic nomination

The house was provided as part of an economic recovery program during the Great Depression.

Most Read