I was really excited about this drive. I thought I’d have to take Highway 2 around the Cascades to the south as route 20, which goes right through the Cascades, was still closed for the season. Some years they are able to open the road in late April, and other years it’s as long as mid-June.
I did some investigating online, and it appeared they had the road cleared of snow and were just making some final repairs from damage caused by avalanches during the winter. They opened the road the weekend before to bicycle traffic only, which was a good sign the road was almost ready.
I contemplated sticking around the area for a couple of days, just to push my luck and see if they’d open it before I committed to taking route 2. I knew if I missed the opening, it would be by mere days, so I was REALLY hoping it would open in the next 48 hours.
At about noon on May 4th, they announced the road would be opening at 1pm the next day.
The news many of you have been waiting for! North Cascades opening at 1 p.m. Wednesday! https://t.co/H8VesozbWk— Washington State DOT (@wsdot) May 4, 2021
I excitedly drove to a campground as close to the road closure as I could, and anxiously awaited my drive on the North Cascades Highway along Route 20.
Today was the day!
After a little hike in the area, I decided to head over to the road closure about 30 minutes before it opened.
I saw in a news article that there would be a ceremony when they opened the road. That “ceremony” consisted of a couple of work trucks, a few workers, and a line of about 20 cars patiently waiting. I’d find out later that most of these cars were filled with hikers and cyclists excited to hit the trails after a long winter.
A huge thanks to all the workers that maintain this incredible area and make it possible for almost anyone to experience the beauty of this country.
Open it!!! Open it!!! Open it!!! Open it!!!
Can you spot my van in this Twitter post? I’m there!
It’s official! The gates are open on SR 20 North Cascades Highway- we had a line up of excited travelers ready for their first trip over the North Cross this season. Keep in mind there are limited services as most facilities are still closed, so plan ahead! Safe travels! pic.twitter.com/tMuxCqPhZ7— WSDOT East (@WSDOT_East) May 5, 2021
As you can see, the ceremony was very… unceremonious. I was feeling like a little kid ready to explore though.
Honored to be one of the first cars through in 2021!
I made it maybe a few miles before I had to pull off and take in the views already.
I took a quick video…
This is from a scenic overlook area. It was just incredible being surrounded by such beauty any direction I looked. Absolutely amazing.
This is a dam that in conjunction with a few others, provides almost all of the power to the Seattle area.
This is actually from a different pull out area a few miles earlier, but I zoom in on the dam.
And here’s a 360 degree view from this spot. If heaven exists, I’m pretty sure it’s either here or somewhere close.
Selfie attempts incoming! I always feel like such a dork taking a selfie, but they I’ve gotta prove I’ve been to these places!
Cooper does not like sitting still for pictures, but I’m making him sit for one anyway.
Not a terrible place to walk the dog.
As I started walking back to my van, I felt myself having an odd appreciation towards a couple of large corporations.
“Thank you Dodge and thank you Winnebago for making this incredible machine.”
The places this thing has already taken me is better than I ever even imagined. To all the people I’ll never know or meet that had any part in creating this amazing miniature RV, you have changed my life. I’m in love with this thing.
At the end of the pass, there was a really nice park that I decided to stop at. I finally had cell/internet again, and I didn’t have a clue where I’d be parking for the night, so this was a great peaceful spot to do that, and of course walk the prince.
As I was walking around with the dog, I came across what appeared to be an old mine entrance, turned either into a gravesite for this person or just a memorial – I’m not really sure the story behind it.
Seems like he was an interesting guy, and one of the main people behind all the power producing dams in the area.
I ended up finding a free National Park Service campground just a couple of miles away, so that’s where I went. As with everything else in the area, it’s beautiful.
Notice that brown container? It’s a bear container for storing food when people are tent camping. It’s REALLY heavy duty!
A sign telling you what you can and can’t leave outside.
Sadly, many people don’t listen.
More pictures of my spot. The site wasn’t very level, so I used those orange things to help level the van out. Most people use “leveling blocks” but I use GoTreads. They expand out to help get me out of mud, sand, dirt, snow or whatever if I get stuck. But when they are folded up, they also make for great leveling blocks.
Here’s a 360 degree view of my spot.
Looking towards the river near my campsite.
Some shots of the river near the boat launch area.
Attempting to get video showing how clear the water is, when…
More views of the river.
Road leading to my campsite. The two sites next to me area empty, giving me this entire corner to myself.
It’s a little bittersweet today. I’m leaving behind a place I have quickly fallen in love with. I could stay here all summer. But my trip isn’t even half over yet – so much to see!
If the second half of my voyage is even a fraction as good as the first half, I’ll be more than satisfied.
What a day and what a couple weeks it has been. Life changing stuff.
I’m not able to post our route on Google Maps like I usually do, because they think the road is still closed. But basically, this is it.
Some highlights of the drive.
Here’s a 12 minute time lapse of my full drive on the North Cascades Highway during he first day it’s open in 2021.