North Cascades National Park

north cascades national park sign

North Cascades National Park covers more than 2 million acres, of federally designated wilderness, making it one of the largest parks in the lower 48 states. I’ve put together this ultimate hiking & camping guide to help you plan your North Cascades National Park getaway and make the most of your time there.

blue lake north cascades rainbow reflection
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PARK 'N Fly - Airport Parking Reservations

The area is referred to as a complex, and is comprised of three National Park Service units- North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, + Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. In addition, other protected lands including several national forests and wilderness areas surround the park.

North Cascades Hiking and Camping Trails

Rugged mountain peaks of the North Cascades Range, the most expansive glacial system in the contiguous United States, and numerous waterways. Go camping in forests with the highest degree of flora biodiversity of any American national park.

hammock camping north cascades national park

Listen to cascading waters in forested valleys. Go hiking through landscapes filled with life that have adapted to moisture in the west and recurring fire in the east. The jagged mountain peaks are crowned by over 300 glaciers. This fragile landscape is especially sensitive to our Earth’s climate change.

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Hiking and Camping in North Cascades
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Getting to North Cascades National Park

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North Cascades National Park is located about 3 hours outside of Seattle. The nearest airport to the North Cascades is Seattle Tacoma International airport (SEA). You can rent a car (Click Here to Save 10%) at the airport, and drive about 3 hours outside of Seattle to the park.

Camping + Where to Stay

Camping in North Cascades National Park

There are a number of options for accommodations while visiting the different areas within the complex. Camping is the most budget friendly, and is my preferred accommodation type when visiting national lands. Campsites at Colonial Creek, Goodell Creek, and Newhalen Creek campground are $16 per night. Gorge Lake is $10 per night. Hozomeen campground is free. Backcountry camping (boat-in and wilderness) requires a free permit. More Information on Camping

find cheap rv rentals for camping

Ross Lake Resort 206-386-4437 
Rockport, WA 98283
www.rosslakeresort.com

North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin 1.855.685.4167
www.lodgeatstehekin.com

National Park Accommodations

Pro Tip: Go camping at Colonial Creek campground. The campground is by the Visitor Center + the only area with cell service. However bring an extra battery charger because the sites are rustic. There are hiking trails within walking distance. Pyramid Lake trail is shorter, and the Thunder Creek trail which is longer.

Click here to search for other accommodations available in surrounding communities to the North Cascades National Park Complex.

Blue Lake Hiking Trail

Blue Lake Trail North Cascades
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Blue Lake trail is an extremely beautiful hike that takes you through alpine forests, a wild flower filled meadow, and towering mountains. You’ll end at the iridescent blue lake with crystal clear water below the glacier.

Length: Moderate, 5.3 miles (8.5 km) roundtrip, elevation gain 958 ft (292 m).

Location: North Cascades — Stehekin, Washington

Getting There: From Burlington, drive east on Hwy 20, the trailhead will be located at mileposts 161 + 162 on the south side of the road.

Blue Lake Hike Her Life Adventures
Wander Wisely

Rainy Lake Hiking Trail

Rainy Lake hiking trail
hiking bladder

Length: Paved & Easy, 2.0 miles (3.2 km) roundtrip, elevation gain 124 ft (38 m).

Location: North Cascades — North Cascades Highway – Hwy 20

Getting There: To go hiking from Marblemount follow Hwy 20 east for 20 miles to Gorge Lake Bridge. Continue for another 0.75 mile to the trailhead, on your right. You will see parking across the street from the trailhead.

Rainy Lake hike waterfall outside Seattle

Thunder Knob Trail

thunder knob hiking trail overlook

Look up and see the ridge of Sourdough Mountain and the snowfield of Davis Peak. A short trail leads to another viewpoint, looking across toward Jack Mountain and down toward the narrow channel of Diablo Lake.

Length: Moderately Easy, 3.6 miles (5.8 km) roundtrip, elevation gain 425 ft (130 m).

Location: North Cascades — Colonial Creek Campground

Getting There: To get there, take State Route 20 to milepost 130, Colonial Creek Campground is 24 miles (39 km) east of Marblemount. The trail head is at the entrance to the campground on the north side of the highway. **Bonus if you’re camping here!

Diablo Lake hiking trail overlook North Cascades National Park

Pyramid Lake Hiking Trail

hiking north cascades national park pyramid lake trail

The hiking trail starts beside Pyramid Creek and a beautiful cascading waterfall. Catch some cool breezes, and then almost immediately you’ll get to work ascending. The hiking trail is difficult and slow, covered in large roots, loose rocks, some scrambling, and up hill most of the way. When under the thin canopy of lodgepole pine, you’ll hear the silence of the woods and the trees creaking as they sway in the wind.

Length: Moderate, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) roundtrip, elevation gain 1500 ft (457 m).

Location: North Cascades — North Cascades Highway – Hwy 20

Getting There: From Marblemount follow Hwy 20 east for 20 miles to Gorge Lake Bridge. Continue for another 0.75 mile to the trailhead, on your right. You will see parking across the street from the trailhead.

hiking north cascades Seattle

Get up to $70 of outdoor adventure gear in each box for as little as $29.99 a month from The Nomadik!

Not sure what to pack? Check out my National Park packing Guide!

National Park Camping Hiking Packing Guide

Zero Waste Bathroom Products

Did you know that 78% of the plastic waste we produce is NOT reclaimed or recycled? Every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists. Think about that. Every – single – piece. Understand that globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic waste every year, that’s a lot of plastic. This Zero Waste Bathroom Product guide should help.

Through my travels I have witnessed firsthand the consequences of our disposable lifestyle with plastic. Plastic has taken over beaches, our oceans, and our lands. After looking around my bathroom I realized how much plastic was in this one room. I started researching zero waste products. Looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Trying to do my part, and help preserve our planet for future generations. I write about sustainable travel, to help make it easier for others to do the same. I hope you enjoy these zero waste bathroom products as much as I have.

One billion toothpaste tubes are thrown out each year.

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This blog post may contain affiliate links. If you click on one of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission for referring you. This comes at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I have personally used + loved.

The tubes are discarded every year and are packed full of ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, artificial dyes and preservatives: these are harmful to our health! 

Bites Toothpaste zero waste bathroom product

 My first zero waste bathroom product I switched to was Bites Toothpaste. The fresh mint with activated charcoal is my favorite flavor. I get compliments about how white my teeth look, plus my breath stays minty fresh all day.

Bites Toothpaste will change the way you think about toothpaste; you’ll never go back after you try them. Your first order will come with a full jar of the bites. When its empty, keep your jar! You will receive refills in a biodegradable package. The best part? They travel well, without the worry of an exploding toothpaste tube.

The shampoo bottles thrown out each year in the U.S. could fill 1,164 football fields.

 

My next sustainable lifestyle switch was to Plaine Products. Zero waste shampoo & conditioner can keep thousands of pounds of plastic out of our oceans. The citrus lavender lather smells amazing, and makes my hair feel clean + healthy. 

Plaine Products shampoo conditioner zero waste bathroom product

The mission: Elimination of single use plastics. Two sisters developed a vegan, cruelty free, non-toxic, all-natural beauty product line. The best part? It gets delivered right to your door. When your product bottles get low, order a refill. Switch out your pump to the new bottle, rinse your old, and return the empty bottle with the return label. Plaine Products also distributes body wash, body lotion, and hand wash!

10–20 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year. A recent study estimated that 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing a total of 268,940 tons are currently floating in the world’s oceans.

 

For face wash and body wash I buy naked bar soaps from Moon River Soap Company, a local shop near my house (they also deliver! Yeyy!). The naked bar soaps are zero waste, and all natural. 

Moon River Soap Company zero waste bathroom product

Each hand poured bar of from Moon River Soap Company is made with omega rich olive oil, nurturing botanicals, and certified 100% pure essential oils. Soap is non-GMO, free from petrochemicals + sulfates + synthetic fragrance or phthalates. The olive oil used in the soaps contains super antioxidants vitamin E + beta carotene that can stimulate cell regeneration,

Snag a hemp, all natural pouf to give your skin a healthy glow. The pouf is washable so it will last longer than the plastic ones, plus it feels better on your skin. Don’t forget to get a Moon River soap to go with your hemp pouf.. They offer anti-inflammatory options that can replenish dry and sensitive skin, options to help balance troubled acne, eczema, and psoriasis. 

Women may use as many as 14,000 tampons in a lifetime.

 

On average, women use between 11 and 30 tampons per cycle. Over a lifetime, that adds up to between 5,000 and 14,000 tampons per woman. The environmental impact of this is vast. It’s estimated that a woman averaging 20 tampons or pads per cycle burns through 250 to 300 pounds of products, applicators, and wrappers in a lifetime. I stopped using tampons about 3 years ago now. I made the switch to the DivaCup and never looked back. The DivaCup is zero waste, reusable,cost-effective and can be worn for up to 12 hours! 

Diva Cup in all sizes

 

WEN (Women’s Environmental Network) states that climate change means “failures in food supplies, fuel shortages, decreased access to drinking water, and homes swallowed by the sea. It means forced mass migration and worsening resource conflict. It means more frequent and ferocious natural disasters”. These conditions affect both men and women. However women, primarily in developing nations, often do not have a voice in decision-making. So, climate change affects them differently.

Toilet tissue accounts for 15 percent of deforestation.

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If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (500 sheets) with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 423,900 trees.

Who Gives a Crap bathroom toilet paper Zero Waste Bathroom Product

Who Gives A Crap delivers environmentally friendly made toilet paper right to your door. Click HERE to get $10 off your first order! Plus they donate 50% of profits to help build toilets for those in need. To date they’ve donated over $1,300,000 to charity and saved a thousands of trees, water and energy. Not bad for a toilet paper company!

Almost 270,000 trees are either flushed or dumped in landfills every day… 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper.

For the more adventurous consumer, there’s the bidet. Almost 270,000 trees a day are either flushed or dumped into landfills. 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper. Japan was my first international trip + first bidet experience.

Bidet Toilet zero waste bathroom product

Bidets are more popular outside of North America. I prefer using them over toilet paper, so I bought one to use at home. For $30 usd I’ve saved tons of money on toilet paper, and who knows how many trees (probably a lot!) I love how CLEAN I feel after using the bathroom.

Zero Waste Bathroom Product Dropps Laundry Soap

For those of us who have a choice as a consumer. It’s time to say no to single use plastic. For those of us with the freedom of speech, it’s time to speak up. The time to act is now, our planet is dying. The science is undeniable and we- the human inhabitants are the ones killing it. 

Make small changes towards a zero waste bathroom + single use plastic free planet. This is no longer a matter of if we WANT to be “environmentally friendly”. Truthfully it’s not easy + if our nation and the politicians running it don’t take this environmental crisis seriously- we the people MUST.  Consider others that are suffering at your expense. Think of the future generations that will be left to clean up your mess. Will they thank us for the condition we left the planet in 30 years from now?

What zero waste switches have you made to live a more sustainable lifestyle? Comment below and let me know your thoughts on the products I’m recommending!

Zero Waste Bathroom Products Sustainable Lifestyle



Sustainable Travel Zero Waste Bathroom Products
Sustainable Travel toiletries Zero Waste Bathroom Products

Canadian Rockies National Parks 10 Jaw Dropping Photos

 

Have you ever seen pictures of some magical destination online (Instagram, Pinterest) and thought to yourself, there is no way those colors are real. Experience ancient glaciers, waterfalls, dramatic rock formations, and emerald lakes as you road trip through the Canadian Rockies into the National Parks. The colors are bright, vibrant and unbelievably breathtaking. The drive would take us through 3 jaw dropping national parks. Sure I knew they would be gorgeous, but was the water really THAT blue? I found out the answer during a week long summer road trip along the Icefields Pathway through Jasper, Banff, & Yoho National Parks.

If Canada wasn’t on your bucket list before- it will be after these 10 photos!

1. Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta Canada

Peyto Lake is a glacier fed lake in Banff National Park. The lake is easily accessed from the Icefields Parkway, but with just a short hike up a trail you can reach this breathtaking view.

2. Sulfer Skyline

Sulfer Skyline summit Jasper national park

Sulphur Skyline is a 7.7 kilometer moderate out and back trail in Jasper National Park. The trailhead hosts the parks hot springs (and and ice-cream shop) so bring a suit and relax your muscles after the long hike up!

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Please note I only offer resources that I have used and strongly recommend!

3. Emerald Lake

emerald lake yoho National park

Located in Yoho National Park, British Colombia. Emerald lake is the largest in the park. Canoe’s are available for rent out on the absolutely beautiful glacial-fed lake with vibrant turquoise colored water.

4. 4th Lake

Fourth Lake in Yoho National Park, British Colombia Canada

In Jasper National Park there is a 4.5 kilometer trail called Valley of the Five Lakes. The Loop is rated as moderate and is dotted with 5 lakes and breathtaking mountain views. The trail is primarily used for hiking, and is best used from March until October.

5. Moraine Lake with Canadian Rockies

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta Canada

This iconic jaw-dropping shade of turquoise is sure to leave a lasting impression. The waters are the most amazing color, and set in the Valley of Ten Peaks in Banff National Park, Alberta. The lake is great for kayaking, hiking or picnicking as it is surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, and rock piles. 

6. Ice-fields Parkway Canadian Rockies National Parks

ice fields parkway Alberta Canada  Canadian rockies national parks

The Icefields Pathway is unlike any other.  The stretch of road is an adventure itself as it takes you through the Canadian rockies national parks. The road goes from Jasper down to Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta. Along the drive you’ll see more than 100 ancient glaciers, cascading waterfalls, dramatic rock formations, and crystal clear emerald lakes. All surrounded by sweeping valleys of thick pine and rich forests.

7. Lake Louise Adventure

lake Louise Banff Canadian rockies national parks

Perhaps one of the most crowded lakes in Banff National Park- Lake Louise is known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake ringed by high peaks. Hiking trails wind up to the Lake Agnes Tea House giving hikers a bird’s-eye view of the lake. You can also rent canoes in summer, or skate on a frozen glacier lake skating rink in winter. The lake also has a ski resort and gondola, making this a year round attraction in the park.

8. 2nd Lake Hike

2nd lake in Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada

9. Yoho National Park

Yoho national park emerald lake

The least visited of the 3 Canadian rockies national parks is Yoho. The park should not be overlooked by its more famous siblings Banff & Jasper. This park has tons of adventure opportunities with more than 61 lakes just a jaw dropping as this- I wish we had planned more time in Yoho and less in Banff. Yoho was half as crowded in the busy summer season of July.

10. Jasper National Park

jasper national park lake

Jasper National Park has so much to offer it’s visitors. From rock climbing, to white water rafting- this is an adventurers dream park. Check out my Adventurers Guide to Jasper National Park HERE for more info!

Adventurers Guide to Jasper National Park

Florida Keys Weekend Getaway

The Florida Keys are gorgeous tropical islands varying in size that extend 120 miles out to the southern tip of the U.S. state of Florida. The Keys are located between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. They are known for their abundant water activities! Making these islands the perfect spot to adventure! Enjoy the Florida Keys on your next weekend getaway beach hopping, boating, snorkeling or scuba diving.

Florida Key Her Life Adventure

Boyfriend (Logan/Love/Light) and I had a weekend getaway through the Florida keys in our Camaro convertible. Starting our journey in Key Largo, we made the 2 hour drive down to the southernmost point of the continental U.S. Key West. Pro Tip: if you are driving a convertible (which I highly suggest) make sure you wear sunscreen!

Florida Keys aerial shot

Each U.S. state is very different from one another. They each have their own culture, traditions, and diversity. To experience the Florida Keys as a local would, we stopped at several State Parks on our way down to Key West. Enjoying the incredible views as we drove with the top down, and the sun on our faces. Daily passes for entry into the state park’s vary depending on number of vehicle occupants; prices ranging from $4.00-$10.00 usd.

Long Key State Park

Long Key State Park Florida drone shot
Long Key State Park Florida mangrove trail

Curry Hammock State Park

Curry Hammock State Park in Florida
Curry Hammock State Park Florida drone shot of water that looks like a rainbow
Fishing Curry Hammock State Park in Florida

Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park Florida
Bahia Honda State Park Florida
Bahia Honda State Park Florida

Fort Zachary Taylor

Fort Zachary State Park Florida
Key West Florida Palm Tree Her Life Adventures

Key West

Key West Florida, Southernmost Point in Continental U.S.A. 90 Miles to Cuba, Her Life Adventures

We ended in Key West, where we spent two days exploring the town. Our original plans were to take a seaplane out to Dry Tortugas National Park for the day. Unfortunately our flight was cancelled the morning we were scheduled to depart. With no Ferry Boat tickets available and no way to reach the island, we were unable to visit this time. After two days in the keys we made the journey north back to the mainland. We spent our last day exploring the Everglades!

Check out my Guide to the Everglades National Park HERE!

Everglades National Park Guide

Everglades National Park Guide

Every once in awhile, I get my expectations blown out of the water by some unexpectedly beautiful destination. Everglades National Park was one of those places. Never had I imagined a wetlands landscape would be so mysterious, wild, and stunning. There are no other Everglades in the world- so I shouldn’t have been too surprised. My Everglades National Park Guide will take you through all the unique ecosystems of the everglades.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park Wetlands

We entered Everglades National park at the Ernest F. Coe East Visitor Center and spent the day driving through the park in our Camaro convertible. Driving down State Hwy 9336 (Main Park Rd) is a journey, so buckle your seat belts!

Convertible Driving HLA

Go Bird Watching

bird watching Everglades National Park wildlife

Affiliate Disclosure

This blog post may contain affiliate links. If you click on one of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission for referring you. This comes at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I have personally used + loved.

Keep Our Oceans Clean, Dropps laundry detergent
loon bird in Everglades National Park wetlands
colorful bird in Everglades National Park wetlands

Hiking Guide

Dwarf Cypress Forest 4 ft elevation sign

Elevation in the Everglades is typically measured in inches instead of feet. The highest elevation in the park doesn’t exceed 8 ft. so when I saw this elevation sign at 4 ft it made me laugh a little..

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Flowers and plants Everglades National Park

The elevation levels in the park define each habitat, from the lowest freshwater marsh to the higher tropical hardwood hammocks.

Anhinga Trail

Anhinga trail Everglades National Park wetlands

This was our favorite trail we did during our day in the park. It was the first hike as you entered the park, so it was quite busy. The 0.8 mile hike was the best area to spot wildlife. We saw alligators, turtles, varies birds, and lots of unique fish.

Alligator Everglades National Park wetlands

A word of caution- at the trailhead parking lot there are vultures that are waiting to feast on your vehicle. They’re quite fond of the rubber window seals for some reason, and they WILL destroy your car if you do not cover it with a tarp. The tarps are provided with straps by the bathrooms and rest area.

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vultures Everglades National Park parking area
vultures on top of car Everglades National Park parking area

Gumbo Limbo Trail

Gumbo Limbo Trail Everglades National Park

After we finished the Anhinga hike we made our way over to the Gumbo-Limbo trail. A short 0.4 mile hike takes you into a dense tropical hard-wood hammock. The trail was not crowded, and it was a nice break into the trees from the sunny Anhinga hike. Forests like this can survive only because of the tropical conditions. About 70% of the 700 native plant species of the park are of tropical origin.

Pinelands Trail

Take a short walk along this 0.4 mile trail through a sub-tropical pine forest. You’ll be walking through one of the most diverse habitats in south Florida. You’ll see the scenery changing as hardwoods are taken over by young pine. Higher areas in the Everglades eventually become large hammocks, unless they are destroyed by fire first. Fire preserves the natural diversity of the Everglades, and is crucial to the regrowth process of the various ecosystems.

Clean up Your Laundry Routine
Tree Everglades National Park
Snail Everglades National Park

Formerly, 52 color varieties of tree snails lived in the hammocks of South Florida. They came from the West Indies, dispersed, and settled in separate tree islands. After years of inbreeding, many multi-colored varieties came about. After gathering many of one variety, collectors sometimes would burn the hammock, destroying any left and making their collection more valuable. Thus putting at least four kinds of tree snail into extinction.

Pa-hay-okee Overlook

Pa hay okee Overlook

A short walk will guide you to a beautiful overlook known as Pa-hay-okee. This ecosystem of freshwater marsh is a wide, shallow, slow moving “river of grass”. It’s amazing how large this green river of grass really was. It seemed to expand forever into the horizon- with the occasional tree sprouting out.

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Water is the lifeblood of Everglades National Park, this river of grass is dependent on the seasonal rise and fall of fresh water. It is also dependent on people. For over 100 years we dredged, dammed, and drained the landscape. Controlling the ebb and flow of this life-giving force. In doing so, we endangered the Everglades and the life dependent on it.

Mahogany Hammock Trail

Mahogany Hammock Trail Everglades National Park

This 0.4 mi walk takes you through a jungle-like island forest. Tropical Hardwood Hammocks as seen above grow in Everglades National Park The hammocks create dense island forests that grow out of the freshwater marshes.

Mahogany Hammock Trail
Mahogany Hammock Trail Everglades National Park

Everglade Mangroves

Mangroves ecosystem

Mangroves are found in the coastal channels and rivers of Everglades National Park where fresh & salt water intermingle. The mangrove forests stabilize coastal lands, provide homes for marine life and nesting birds, and are the first line of defense against storms from the sea. I hope you enjoyed reading my Everglades National Park Guide and it inspires you to take your next adventure.

Click HERE to read my post on 19 Extraordinary National Parks to Visit in 2019!

Extraordinary National Parks Bucketlist