Did you know that the North Cascades national park is one of the least visited parks, but it also contains some of the most complex and least understood geology out of all of North America? The North Cascades is a site which exudes geological, historical, and archaeological importance. This essay will discuss in detail the North Cascades national park. First of all, the North Cascades is located in Sedro-Woolley, Washington; somewhat close to Seattle. It is reachable through a multitude of methods of transportation, of which includes taxis, ferries, airplanes, cars, biking, and hiking. Airports near the national park include the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Bellingham International Airport, Pangborn Memorial Airport, and Chelan Seaplanes. However, most people arrive at the North Cascades through cars. There are multiple roadways through which a car can take. The main of these roadways is State Route 20. Additionally, Silver-Skagit road and State Route 542 yield many points through which to access the park. As stated earlier, the North Cascades is one of the least visited parks in the system. It was first explored and discovered by an explorer named Henry Custer, who was the first non-native to arrive at the North Cascades mountain range, which occurred in 1859. It was established as a national park in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and have been referred to as the North American Alps for a long time. In addition to its geological value, it is a place of archaeological importance. There have been two hundred sixty prehistoric sites located in the area, some of which date older than eight thousand five hundred years. Studies done on these sites have shown that the North Cascades were essential to Indian tribes who lived there. The main group of Indians was the Skagit Indians, but also there were the Thompson Indians, the Chelan, Okanogan, and Wenatchi tribes. Two main Native American populations lived here, separated into the peoples of the Columbia River Basin, and the people of the Pacific Northwest, or also called the Puget Lowlands. Archaeological testing here has also exposed data on how the mountains were used. This includes the use of alpine obsidian, the establishment of travel routes, the using of mountain goats and other native fauna and flora, a geologic record of volcano eruptions which are used to score the times of both human and climatic events, and also a radiocarbon chronology which provides a timescale for human uses, natural events, and climatic shifts in the park. Other people that have resided at the North Cascades include miners who came looking for gold, loggers who sought to harvest the lumber, builders who built bridges and other forms of travel for miners, fur traders who trapped many animals which includes beavers, bears, cougars, etc. As we all know, the North Cascades are a mountain range, so they are constantly shifting, changing, and moving because they lie on a fault. The terrain is common with the terrain of a glacially carved mountain valley, with rocky forested hillsides and gravelly soils. The landscape includes jagged peaks, glaciers, waterways, and forested valleys. Furthermore, many geology experts agree that the mountain ranges are actually a clump of terranes, which are distinct clusters of rocks separated by a fault. Scientific research done through fossil and rock magnetism studies point to the notion that the North Cascades were formed thousands of miles south of where it is now, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. These mountains were connected to slow-moving plates of oceanic rock, and they drifted northward until they eventually converged together to form what we see today, which happened about ninety million years ago. When these rocks collided with the North American Continent, the mass of rock was pushed upwards by the faulting and turned into a mountain range. The impact separated the area into north or south trending faults which are apparent to us today. However, over time, the mountains were almost eroded to a near flat plain. In the past 40 million years, heavy oceanic rocks shoved beneath the boundary of this area. Then, extremely high heat caused the oceanic rocks to melt. Some of the rocks rose to the surface and erupted, however, the rest cooled and recrystallized forming large masses composed of granitic rock, which is now the core of the North Cascades mountain ranges. This also caused the mountains to rise again, showing where the mountain range hit the North American Continent. Additionally, many of the North Cascades’ numerous geological features were formed due to the latest Ice Age. During this time, much of the North Cascades were covered by glacial ice. One glacier, The Cordilleran Ice Sheet, was growing and creeping into the state of Washington, which is southward. Eventually, this glacier filled the Puget Lowland, and the surface of the glacier reached the height of ice from the North Cascades, and merged with it. The highest peaks in the mountain range, about six thousand to seven thousand feet, were above the ice surface, but the rest were below. This glacier smoothed and rounded off the peaks below, but in fact most of the geological features were not created by the erosion caused by the ice sheet, but by its regression or retreat. Huge amounts of the melted glacier surged down valleys, forming lakes, growing deposits, draining lakes, and some of the deposits were partially washed away. During this regression, called glacial retreat, drainage reversal occurred in the North Cascades. This occurred because some rivers that originally drained to some location could no longer do so while the glacier blocked its path. As a result, water from the melting ice goes a different path. After the retreat of the glaciers, the climate warmed so much that most, if not all of the ice in the mountains melted and disappeared. Then, about five thousand years ago, the glaciers that the North Cascades are so famously known for, formed again. Also, during the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries, small glaciers in the North Cascades advanced downvalley and left terminal moraines, which is an accumulation of debris that glaciers pushed forward, which also marks the maximum advance of the glacier. The U-shaped valleys observable today are formed by the erosion by glaciers. Some notable geological features include the Skagit, Stehekin, and Nooksack rivers, Ross and Diablo Lake, Mount Baker and Goode Mountain, and also plenty of rivers, over three hundred glaciers, and many lakes and ponds. Next, the North Cascades are a home for a multitude of plant and animal species. The bird species found at the park include Harlequin ducks, hummingbirds, flycatchers, vireos, thrushes, warblers, tanagers, and grosbeaks, male olive-sided flycatchers, warbling vireos, Swainson’s thrushes, Wilson’s warblers, and western tanagers. The amphibians include northwestern salamander, long-toed salamander, pacific giant salamander, western redback salamander, roughskin newt, ensatina, western toad, pacific tree frog, tailed frog, red – legged frog, cascades frog, Columbia spotted frog, and bullfrog. Reptiles include painted turtles, northern alligator lizard, western fence lizard, side-blotched lizard, rubber boa, western yellowbelly racer, western rattlesnake, western terrestrial garter snake, northwestern garter snake, and common garter snake. Fish species include pink salmon, chum salmon, coho salmon, sockeye/kokanee salmon, chinook salmon, cutthroat trout, rainbow/steelhead trout, golden trout, mountain whitefish, pygmy whitefish, longnose sucker, largescale sucker, burbot, Coastrange sculpin, slimy sculpin, prickly sculpin, peamouth, northern squawfish, longnose dace, redside shiner, and threespine stickleback. The mammals at the park include mountain beaver, beaver, opossum, porcupine, raccoon, marten, fisher, ermine, long-tailed weasel, mink, wolverine, western spotted skunk, striped skunk, river otter, coyote, gray wolf, red fox, mountain lion, lynx, bobcat, black bear, grizzly bear, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, California myotis, small-footed myotis, yuma myotis, little brown myotis, long-legged myotis, fringed myotis, long eared myotis, silver-haired bat, big brown bat, Western red bat, hoary bat, Townsend’s big-eared bat, montane shrew, masked shrew, vagrant shrew, northern water shrew, pacific water shrew, trowbridge’s shrew, deermouse, bushy-tailed woodrat, gapper’s red-backed vole, heather vole, townsend’s vole, long-tailed vole, creeping vole, water vole, muskrat, northern bog lemming, great basin pocket mouse, western jumping mouse, pacific jumping mouse, Shrew-Moles, northern pocket gopher, pika, eastern cottontail, snowshoe hare, yellow-pine chipmunk, townsend’s chipmunk, hoary marmot, columbian ground squirrel, cascades golden-mantled ground squirrel, western gray squirrel, red squirrel, douglas’ squirrel, and northern flying squirrel. Broadleaf trees in this national park are the Black cottonwood, Quaking aspen, Alpine willow, Barclay willow, Cascade willow, Variable willow, Pacific willow, Coyote willow, Snow willow, Scouler’s willow, Sitka willow, Red alder, Sitka alder, Black birch, Northwestern paper birch, California hazelnut, Bitter cherry, Western choke cherry, Vine maple, Rocky Mountain maple, Big leaf maple, Cascara, Pacific dogwood, and Red osier dogwood. The major forest types are the Western Hemlock Forest, Pacific Silver Fir Forest, Mountain Hemlock Forest, Subalpine, Alpine, Eastside Meadows and Subalpine Fir Forest, Douglas-Fir and Lodgepole Pine Forest, and Ponderosa Pine Forest. The species of conifers are Western yew, Common juniper, Alaska cedar, Pacific silver fir, Grand fir, Subalpine fir, Western larch, Engelmann spruce, Sitka spruce, Whitebark pine, Lodgepole pine, Western white pine, Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Western hemlock, and Mountain hemlock. The most common of animals found at the park are grey wolves, grizzly and black bears, wolverines, mountain lions, bobcats, lynxes, mule deer, and black-tailed deer subspecies. The most common species of fish are – rainbow trout, dolly varden, steelhead, all five salmon species which are Chinook, Coho, Chum, Sockeye, and Pinks. The most common species of mammals are – bear, beaver, bobcat, cougar, coyote, deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer subspecies, mink, racoon, and river otter. Of birds, most commonly found birds are the duck, eagle, grouse, hawk, heron, owl, woodpecker, and wren. Additionally, there are bald eagles. They are often seen in the tree line and nesting in the tree tops. Also, twelve species of bats are also thought to inhabit the North Cascades. This National Park also includes endangered or threatened species, including the gray wolf, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, marbled murrelet, spotted owl. In addition, the grizzly bear is threatened, and other sensitive species include fisher, wolverine, and Townsend’s big-eared bat, and the Cascade red fox. The North Cascades national park is a small scale model for all of Earth’s climate change. The climate is moderate, with summer highs in the nineties and winter lows around ten degrees Fahrenheit, while the annual average temperature is fifty degrees, and the summer average temperature is sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit. As you would expect, the air quality is excellent. Rainfall averages eighty inches per year, most of which accumulates throughout the winter. On the other hand, snowfall is not very often heavy, and varies year-to-year. However, storms are common, which are often accompanied with rain and wind. From Autumn to Spring, much of the area is covered in deep snow, while from mid June to late September, most of the trails are cleared from snow. The west slopes are usually colder and receive the most snow as they catch the wet systems from the Pacific Oceans, so the east slopes are warmer and have less snow. Finally, there are an assortment of activities and facilities at the North Cascades. One such facility is the North Cascades Institute, which gives experiences in nature, including enjoying the mountains, rivers, forests, and learning about the people and wildlife of the region Another facility is the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, where school and youth programs, a graduate program and classes for adults, teachers and families are provided. There is the Wild Ginger Library is a gathering space with a conference table which serves a variety of tasks. Also, the Salmonberry Dining Hall serves meals that include regional foods in a buffet style, and the location also overlooks Diablo Lake. Additionally, there are three European-style lodges – Fir, Cedar, and Pine. Activities include, storytelling around campfires, exploring local trails and National Park Service trails, paddling and canoe outings on Diablo Lake, taking a guided hike, and also in the Learning Center, teaching guides provide natural history education on the North Cascades. As shown throughout this paper, the North Cascades mountain range is a national park worthy of its title. The North Cascades is being preserved today for its startling beauty and richness in geological, archaeological, and historical wonders, and it will continue to be preserved as long as people can appreciate it for its significance and beautiful landscape.Citations”North Cascades Geology.” Geology of North Cascades National Park, geomaps.wr.usgs.gov/parks/noca/nocageol9d.html.North Cascades National Park History, National Park Vacation, Heritage, and Recreation Tourism from America’s Best History, americasbesthistory.com/abh-northcascades.html.”North Cascades National Park.” National Park Foundation, 18 Aug. 2017, www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/north-cascades-national-park.”North Cascades National Park.” The Greatest American Road Trip, www.thegreatestroadtrip.com/north-cascades-national-park/.”North Cascades National Park (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/noca/index.htm.”North Cascades Visitor Center : Index.” North Cascades Visitor Information Center – Index, www.marblemount.com/.”Welcome to North Cascades Institute – North Cascades Institute.” North Cascades Institute: connection people, nature and community since 1986, ncascades.org/.