Best national parks: Avoid the crowds

Get outdoors and skip the lines during the high season

North Cascades, WA
Photo by Steve MacAulay; written by Kathryn True

North Cascades, WA

Annual attendance: Fewer than 20,000

Why it’s awesome: Two peaks soar more than 9,000 feet, plus there are 312 glaciers and nearly 400 miles of hiking trails.

Trail to yourself: Worth every one of its 5.2 uphill miles, gaining 5,095 feet in elevation, Sourdough Mountain Trail is a backcountry trek to a fire watchtower that presides over 360° of awe.

OMG moment: Seeing peregrine falcons swoop, from your perch on the 389-foot-high Diablo Dam.

Where to pitch a tent: At Colonial Creek Campground ($12), you can skip stones on Diablo Lake, just outside your tent.

Where to book a room: The new lakeside Base Camp (from $95/person;, at the North Cascades Institute’s environmental learning center, offers gourmet organic fare and nature programs.



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