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Take a Winter Tour of the North Cascades Highway

Posted by Anna Roth at Dec 02, 2013 11:45 AM |
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The North Cascades Highway (SR 20) closed due to heavy snowfall and avalanche danger. Whether it reopens or not, you can see those breathtaking peaks all winter long with Jack McLeod's beautiful book, "The North Cascades Highway: A Roadside Guide to America's Alps"


You don't have to wait until next spring to see breathtaking views all along the scenic route.

Jack McLeod, a science teacher at Cascade High School in Everett, has written a beautiful book, The North Cascades Highway: A Roadside Guide to America's Alps. Featuring gorgeous photos of the scenic route, the book includes a healthy smattering of roadside geology and history, as well as a helpful key for drivers to locate ideal photo opportunities.

Know before you go (back)

North Cascades Highway book photo
A page from McLeod's book illustrating the peak identifier. Photo courtesy Jack McLeod.

A book described by the author as "ideal for someone with ADD," the North Cascades Highway offers information on a new subject on every page, making it the perfect introduction to the area for amateur geologists, historians, and naturalists.

It's got a little bit of information for everyone, and reading it provides fascinating insight into the area's tumultuous formation from a seabed to peaks soaring thousands of feet in the air.

Identify peaks on your next road trip

Travelers will recognize the vistas in the book, but how many of their names do you know?

The photos are marked with peak identifiers, so when the highway opens back up, be sure to bring this with you. It's a great way to quickly find out the names of those imposing spires and crags that loom above the highway.

Can't find the view you're looking for? The key below appears on each page of the book that features a panorama. The star and mileage number indicate where along the route the view can be found. The P indicates whether or not there is safe parking, and the car graphic tells view seekers which way to look for a stellar photo.

North Cascades Highway Legend
The key to viewfinding in the North Cascades Highway book. Image courtesy Jack McLeod.

A great gift for mountain-lovers

We featured the book (among others) in WTA's 2013 gift guide. It's the perfect gift for anyone who has whizzed past these sights, wishing to learn a little more about the area. Pick it up for a friend, an acquaintance, maybe even yourself! Don't worry, we won't tell if you decide to keep it once you've seen it.

Mountain pass updates all winter

So when will the highway open? That's up to Mother Nature. But in the past, Cayuse & Chinook passes usually open for the season in May, and the North Cascades Highway generally is plowed out by late April. You can see the historical dates here.

You can also follow the conditions on all major mountain passes throughout the winter at the Department of Washington's Department of Transportation website or Twitter feed.