Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

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Camping n Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Camping n Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (Stockbyte/Getty)

The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State extends over 140 miles along the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains from the Canadian border to the northern boundary of Mt. Rainier National Park. The Forest covers portions of Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties, which contain over 55 percent of the State's total population. Nearly three million people in or near the Puget Sound metropolitan area are 40 to 70 miles west of the Forest boundary. Coupled with the fact that four major mountain passes cross the Cascades through the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, this makes this one of the most visible National Forests in the country.

Highway access to the various ranger districts in the forest can be found driving from either north or south on I-5. I-90 intersects with I-5 heading east from Seattle, Washington to the North Bend Ranger District. Access points from I-5 to other ranger districts can be found heading east: on Hwy 20 near Mount Vernon, or Hwy 542 near Bellingham for the Mount Baker district. Head east on Hwy 530 for the Darrington district, Hwy 2 for the Skykomish district, and from Hwy 410 for the White River district.

Climate varies markedly within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest from the glaciated mountain tops to the tree-covered valley bottoms. The Cascades create their own weather by snagging Pacific Ocean storms. Huge masses of clouds saturated with water fall in off the Pacific and slam into the mountain range most of the year. The clouds rise, cool, and drop their moisture as rain or snow. Valley bottoms, near the western edge of the forest, receive only thirty to sixty inches of rain a year while higher elevations may receive over 500 inches, mostly in the form of snow. Twenty feet of snow on the ground is common during most winters at higher elevations. In some areas, snow doesn't melt until mid-summer.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 6 Jan 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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