The North Cascades have long been known as the North American Alps. Characterized by rugged beauty, this steep mountain range is filled with jagged peaks, deep valleys, cascading waterfalls and glaciers. North Cascades National Park Service Complex contains the heart of this mountainous region in three park units which are all managed as one and include North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. Each area offers different experiences and contains wilderness. Over 93% of the park complex is managed as the Stephen T. Mather Wilderness, named in honor of the first director of the National Park Service.
Long before North Cascades National Park Service Complex was established in 1968, this area was a home. Not only to an astounding diversity of plants and animals, it was the home to Native Americans and a trade gateway between the east and west sides of these mountains. More recent settlers came in the nineteenth century to establish homesteads in places like the Stehekin Valley, or to mine elusive minerals – like gold, or to trap furbearing animals such as the beaver, otter, and marten. Now it is preserved as a national park for all to enjoy.