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Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest was originally two distinct Washington parks: Mount Baker National Forest and Snoqualmie National Forest. Mount Baker National Forest was first established as a forest reserve in 1897, and in 1907, recategorized as a national forest. Snoqualmie National Forest was officially created in 1908. Though recreational activities in the mountains began as early as the 1880s, both parks didn’t see significant traffic until the 1930s, when cars became more commonplace, and also thanks to a highly popular movie. Released in 1935, the Call of Wild was filmed in Mount Baker National Forest, and the movie featured A-list actors like Clark Gable and Loretta Young.
Mount Baker National Forest and Snoqualmie National Forest were combined in 1974 in an effort to streamline administrative procedures and stretch the budget dollars.
Though there are a smattering of small towns on the flanks of the mountains, the closest major town is Arlington, which is about 40 miles west. In addition to a variety of dining and retail shopping options, it also has the closest hospital. Search for an RV in Snohomish County and get ready to embark on an RV camping trip of a lifetime.
Covering well over 1.7 million acres, Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest covers most of the western side of the Cascade mountain range in between Canada and Mount Rainier National Park. Although Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest has many scenic natural wonders, what makes this Washington park special is it has the highest number of glaciers in the lower 48. However, note that due to various causes, several of these glaciers have lost up to 40% of their volume when compared to their sizes in 1980.
Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest also shelters some of the last vestiges of old-growth forests in Washington State. Found mostly at the northern end of the park (near Canada), these trees are something to behold. These trees tower, reaching 200 and 300 feet overhead, swaying alarmingly in all but the lightest of breezes, and yet, never topple. The soft gurgle of running water is a nearly constant background sound in these woods. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of streams and creeks, many of which are tiny, spanning only a few creeks across. Fishermen and kayakers can often be seen exploring the depths of wider rivers. Common fish include golden, cutthroat, and rainbow trout.
It should come as no surprise that hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding are also popular activities in Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. There are over 1,500 miles for adventurers to explore, and a majority are open to dogs, too, though they must remain leashed. A portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches over 2,600 miles from Canada to Mexico borders, passes through Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. Hikers and other adventurers can explore waterfalls, caves, fresh, bright meadows, and deep, dark woods, or ascend to one of the mountaintop peaks.
Mountaineering, sometimes referred to as rock climbing, is considered a major achievement for many adventurers. On top of that, a few mountains along the Cascade mountain range are active volcanoes. Defying almost (but not really) certain fiery death just to climb a volcano. What an adventure! Permits for mountaineering in Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest are not required, but it’s highly recommended that all climbers register with the park rangers in the event that they need assistance.
Scattered across the western flanks of the Cascade mountain range are around 30 National Forest campgrounds and several privately-run campgrounds, most of which are primitive and lack electric hookups. RV camp near Glacier, WA, at the Douglas Fir Campground. Although this campground is primitive, it’s also highly popular because of its easy access to a stream known for trophy-sized trout fishing. Douglas Fir Campground has hand-pump well water and vault toilets for its visitors to use.
A few miles outside Darrington, Bedal Campground is a quiet campground with 21 sites. Most sites have bushes and greenery that act as a screen, further adding to the sense of privacy and seclusion. Each site is accompanied by a picnic table and fire rings. Note that vehicles longer than 25 feet are not recommended due to the tight turns and that there is no drinking water available. Visitors should bring their own supply of water.
Alternatively, one could RV camp near Gold Bar, which is a little farther east. Money Creek Campground has 25 sites, and in contrast with the other campgrounds, there is running water with drinkable water available and flush toilets. Some RV sites are waterfront, facing South Fork Skykomish River.
In addition to exploring Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest in an RV rental, take the time to enjoy the mountain towns and the cities along the Puget Sound and their many attractions. Darrington, WA, is well-known for its annual Bluegrass Festival, which usually occurs in mid-July. The event draws tens of thousands of spectators who enjoy music and browsing vendors’ wares. Past performers have included headliners like the Gibson Brothers, The Combination, and Bill Monroe.
Scattered along the foothills of the Cascade range are dozens of you-pick farms, vineyards, and apple orchards. It can be hard to decide which one to visit; all of them have their own unique flavor and flair. The Snohomish, Cider Festival is a terrific way to narrow down options. Held in August, the event hosts several local vendors like cider makers, artisan cheesemakers, wineries, and other foods.
At the end of a long day, kick up your heels outside an Airstream rental and enjoy the sight of stars appearing in the inky-black sky.