Ross Lake National Recreation Area is a part of the North Cascades complex that I started to write about yesterday. Because Ross Lake actually encompasses the road that passes through the complex, it has a much higher visitation than North Cascades National Park. North Cascades gets 29,000 visitors a year while Ross Lake gets 905,000. I guess people like boating more than they like hiking.
Tom, Val, Johnny, and I drove along Washington State Route 20 through Ross Lake National Recreation Area and admired the lakes and dams from a couple of overlooks. We took a short hike to one dam overlook.
We also stopped at one place that wasn’t an overlook but deserves to be. As we were zooming by on Route 20 we spotted some mountains and glaciers through the trees. We made Tom turn around and go back to the wide place in the road so we could get a better look.
This spot overlooked Rainy Lake and it was snowing! The pattern of the clouds, the snow on the mountains, and the glaciers made a spectacular viewpoint. We climbed the hill next to the road to get a better view and took lots of pictures. We had planned on hiking around Rainy Lake, but because of the snow, we decided to skip that hike.
Our final stop in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area was Mount Washington, the highest point on State Route 20. When we got to the parking lot, it was snowing – on September 22! There was snow down the valley and on the mountains around us. It was fun to watch the snow for a little bit and it wasn’t too cold. We hiked around the viewpoints and then decided we had seen all we could see through the snow clouds. But as we were driving away from the area, we saw a rainbow shining on the side of Mount Washington. Beautiful!
Ross Lake may have more visitation that North Cascades, but it is the mountains surrounding the lake that give it beauty. We were more interested in another lake, further down the road.