Breathe. The atmosphere seems tangible. Blue haze emphasizes the protective envelope of gases keeping us alive. Clouds slide overhead as if blown along a sheet of glass. The sun is brassy, and at night Kerouac’s “sizzling stars” are almost touchable.

—William Dietrich

In the North Cascades ecosystem you will find some of the most magnificent mountains, lowland old growth forests, and pristine rivers on Earth.

Home to rare birds and Pacific salmon, the North Cascades feel remote, and yet dozens of trailheads lie within a two-hour drive from Puget Sound’s major cities, encouraging frequent visits.

Climbers challenge themselves on the North Cascades’ rocky faces, while skiers break free of the tyranny of lift tickets and discover miles of virgin powder deep in the backcountry. Hikers explore its river valleys and ascend its summits.

The waters that flow through the North Cascades provide more than a fifth of Seattle’s electricity. Millions of people depend on this “wild nearby” to meet their needs not only for water, but  exercise, spiritual renewal, education, and more.

While much of the North Cascades is safely contained within national park boundaries or federally designated wilderness areas, many of its glories remain unprotected. The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal In The Wild Nearby brings this region into focus, highlighting its beauties and its fragility.

The Northwest is a “purposeful place” because so many parts of it remain so brilliantly, even brutally authentic. It demands a sense of attachment; it has the power to shape dreams.

—Richard Louv 


Pulitzer Prize–winning author William Dietrich takes us on an imaginary hike through the region, explaining the rich history and future challenges facing this remote yet accessible ecosystem, while guidebook author Craig Romano details day hikes, bicycle rides, paddling expeditions, ski outings, and car-camping options in the region. Gary Snyder shares a piece from his North Cascades journals. Profiles of people who characterize the landscape, written by the North Cascade Institute’s Christian Martin, an inspirational foreword by Richard Louv, and inspiring color photographs by the likes of Steph Abegg, Paul Bannick, Ed Cooper, Ethan Welty, and Art Wolfe, among others, bring the region to life.

Now available online from Mountaineers Books and in bookstores. Learn more about the book.


A hands-on event series goes “beyond the book” to bring the stories and images of the North Cascades to audiences around the Northwest. Photographers and authors will share multimedia presentations in dozens of communities surrounding the North Cascades ecosystem.

See the calendar for upcoming events in your area.