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North Cascades + Diablo Lake Travel Guide

Some of you have already called this... Banff on a budget.

This time last year, I did spend 4th of July in Banff National Park. 
Not only were the views unreal, but the places I visited -- Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, etc. -- all hold a special place in my heart. I was able to spend my favorite summer holiday with my family, and those are memories I'd love to relive in a heartbeat. My family and I mapped out the places we wanted to visit, and were still in awe when we saw it in real life. 

If you haven't read my Banff travel guide, you should check it out here. So many of you requested it, and it was actually one of my top travel guide reads last summer. 

My brother and I set aside the entire day last weekend to road trip to the North Cascades National Park. Since we were a good 3 hours away from downtown Seattle, our original plan was to visit Diablo Lake and hike Thunder Knob Trail and then driving back down before it got too late. 

We initially drove up to the top of the Diablo Lake Overlook on the GPS. It's a beautiful drive heading up because you'll see glimpses of the lake in this beautiful shade of blue-green color, which has no filter, by the way. 

There's a parking lot area right at the Overlook, along with outhouses and picnic tables. There were families eating lunch and enjoying the heat around this area. We unfortunately forgot to bring actual meals with us on our drive, which is something you should definitely bring before heading out to the mountains, where there's no signal and hardly any places to purchase food around.


We ended up snagging one of the few remaining parking spots at the Thunder Knob Parking area, which was right beside the Diablo Lake entrance. I recommend parking here if you plan to hike the Thunder Knob Trail. This 3.3 mile trail has a great lookout of Lake Diablo, but if you're planning to hike it in the summer, bring tons and tons of water, wear sunscreen, and be prepared to walk in zigzags in an incline manner for the majority of the hike. Dogs are also allowed on the trail, but must be on leashes. 


It was definitely one of the hottest days we experienced during our time in Seattle, that's for sure.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to explore more of the Park due to time, but a couple of other places in the North Cascade National Park that I would recommend are:

1. Maple Pass Loop -- located near Vancouver
(Check out these photos on Instagram to see the place -- #MaplePassLoop

2. North Cascades Highway 20 -- about a 2.5 hour beautiful scenic drive en route to Winthrop, Washington with views of cascades and waterfalls.

3. Blue Lake Trail -- one of the trails I wanted to hike, but it was out of our way. The hike is apparently about 5 miles roundtrip, with 1000 feet of elevation gain. 
(Check out these photos on Instagram to see the place -- #BlueLakeTrail)

4. Baker Lake -- another good one with a stunning view. You're welcome to kayak, swim, or fish at this lake. There are also campgrounds and camping facilities for those planning to stay. 

5. Ladder Creek Falls -- a beautiful waterfall, for those who are interested.

6. Washington Pass Overlook -- totally wished I would've done this one. SO. STUNNING.

Have any questions? Feel free to comment below or shoot me an email!
Hope you all have a safe and wonderful 4th of July!

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