Marblemount & Rockport
Rockport, west of the Resort, is a town hosting a fine State Park and popular Steelhead County Park. You can drive to Rockport heading east on Washington State Route 20 from I-5 at Burlington, or arrive here via Arlington and Darrington on SR 530. There is a store (with gas pumps) and tavern here.
Marblemount, several miles east of Rockport on SR 20 is the community with the last tourist facilities, (i.e. gas, groceries, lodging, post office, and restaurants) before driving east through 87 miles of wilderness along the North Cascades Highway (SR 20) as it crosses over the mountain range. Glacier Peak Resort lies about halfway in-between Rockport & Marblemount. The old Mine-to-Market road (Cascade River Road), which heads east into the National Park after you cross the Skagit River bridge in town is a most beautiful, primitive drive to view alpine mountain scenery. The trailhead at the end of the 22 mile drive displays a breathtaking vista of five ice-blue glaciers with waterfalls at the end of each one.
Newhalem and Diablo, east of Marblemount are Seattle City Light camps for maintaining the hydroelectric facilities on the river, and there are no tourist facilities other than a small store there.
Marblemount and Rockport are situated on the last large river plain in the Upper Skagit River Valley as you travel the North Cascades Scenic Highway. The highway follows the route of Indians, pack trains and pioneer wagons as it passes through the valley up river on the way to the North Cascades mountains. The Skagit River is the second largest river in Washington State (after the Columbia), flowing into Puget Sound about 60 miles west of Marblemount. In present days, the area has attracted a growing number of small business entrepreneurs. Local artists and crafters create unique products using the area’s natural resources. Pottery, large wood carvings, organic farm products, hand-made crafts, and products of wood can be purchased here. Our climate is moderate, with summer highs in the 90’s (Hawaii weather) and the winter lows around 10′ to 30′. Rainfall averages 80 inches, with most rainfall in the winter. Snowfall varies year-to-year. Although the highway across the North Cascades Passes closes in winter, the villages of Marblemount and Rockport (at approximately 350 ft. above sea level) remain accessible year-round for travelers coming from the Puget Sound region to the west. There is always something to do here, so do come see us and what we have to offer.
Close to us, a popular spot for alpine hiking is the Sauk Mountain trail. Turn north on the access road that intersects SR20 just west of Rockport State Park, and continue up the base of the mountain until you reach the small parking area, which provides a great view of the Skagit River Valley below. This is a frequently used launching point for hang-gliding. A trail from this point switchbacks up the south face of Sauk and near the top the trail crosses around an eastern outcropping and continues up to the site of the former fire tower. To the north is a clear mountain lake, usually with ice on it except in the late summer.
You’ll find most of the shopping and services you need nearby the Resort. Marblemount is 2.5 miles east of us and is the last town with tourist facilities before entering the National Park complex. There are no motels in Marblemount or in the Seattle City Light towns of Newhalem and Diablo. Make your overnight home base here at Glacier Peak Resort. Meals are no problem. Besides the wonderful meals at The Eatery, there are a number of restaurants in Marblemount, and snacks and groceries are available at two stores in Marblemount. Gas and traveling supplies are available in Marblemount and Rockport. While the closest full-service bank is at Concrete, you’ll find ATM machines in Marblemount.
The American Bald Eagle, our national bird that is making a great comeback from the endangered species list, visits us from November to March each year to feed upon the salmon that come up the Skagit River to spawn. These majestic birds, accompanied by some Golden Eagles use the Skagit River as their winter “feeding grounds”. In a recent count, there were over 600 spotted along the river banks. January is the month when they are here in greatest concentration.
There are float trips available in Marblemount, and overnight accommodations if needed here at Clark’s. We can provide you with a list of the float companies if you request. Marblemount, Rockport and Concrete honor the noble birds with a Bald Eagle Festival usually held during the first weekend of February.
Also at this time of year the Trumpeter Swans and the Snow Geese can be seen in the lower Skagit Valley near Mount Vernon, resting and feeding in the fields before another flight.
Skagit River & Valley
The Skagit River is the second largest river in Washington State, and the largest emptying into Puget Sound. State Route 20 follows the route of Indians, pack trains and pioneer wagons as it passes through the valley along the Skagit’s watercourse. The river originates in British Columbia where it can be crossed as a little stream meandering along Route 3 southeast of Hope. After crossing south into the United States, large lakes created behind dams now hold back its rush to the sea.
We are very fortunate to have the resource of the Skagit River with its bountiful water flow. Seattle City Light built Gorge Dam (shown in the picture at the left), the first of three dams to be built to produce hydroelectric power for the city. Construction materials were delivered by rail, the lines extending then to the present site of the town of Diablo. Later this City Light train brought the first sightseers to our area, as Seattle citizens visited the facility that provided their light and power. The construction of Ross Dam followed, and the project was completed with Gorge Dam. To this day the three dams produce power for the city, now interconnected with the Bonneville Power Administration dams on the Columbia. Seattle City Light still has a wonderful tours of its facilities. During the summer you can choose a tour including a wonderful family-style chicken dinner, or a shorter tour without the meal, both available for a very reasonable price.
North Cascades National Park was created in the early 1970’s. The complex includes the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, the part occupied by the hydroelectric projects and most of the highway corridor. The National Park areas are true wilderness, accessible only by foot trails. The highway crosses into the NRA approximately seven miles east of Glacier Peak Resort. The distance from Marblemount to Mazama, the first town on the east side of the mountains, is about 89 miles. There are the remains of old mining claims within the park, and recent archeological studies have found evidence of native transit through these remote regions long before the arrival of white settlers.