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News / Northwest

North Cascades National Park visitation returns to normal

By Emma Fletcher-Frazer, Skagit Valley Herald
Published: March 13, 2023, 7:52am

MOUNT VERNON — After fires in 2021 affected visitation to North Cascades National Park, the number of visitors returned to normal last year, according to a National Park Service report.

The National Park Service 2022 Visitation Report showed the number of recreational visits dipped from 30,885 in 2020 to 17,855 in 2021.

Denise Shultz, chief of visitor services for the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, said the wildfires of 2021, which caused closures of Highway 20 and of Copper Ridge and Chilliwack area trails, limited access to the park during the summer season.

Smoke from the fires impacted air quality, which also affected visitation.

Visitation numbers increased to 30,154 in 2022, a number Shultz said is considered normal.

Though the park can determine the number of overnight visitors, Shultz said there’s simply no good way to count the number of day visitors — those who use the park without staying overnight and don’t have a permit.

Shultz said she anticipates normal visitation this year, but that the severity of fire seasons and their impacts on the park are often difficult to predict.