The massive bulk of 7,600 foot Liberty Bell Mountain seems to block any passage through the mountain fortress. Just when it seems impossible, the highway makes a great horseshoe bend and clambers up the face of Liberty Bell. The off-road viewpoint at the top of the pass (where this photo was taken) provides splendid views of the mountain-ringed valley.
The highway traverses Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Okanagon National Forest, Wenatchee National Forest, and North Cascades National Park, and is the northernmost route through the rugged Cascade Mountains. It is the only highway through the otherwise impassable North Cascades NAtional Park.
This inhospitable terrain, seemingly tamed by man, turns vicious every winter just to show who is really boss. A 37-mile section of the North Cascades Highway 20 between Newhalem and Mazama closes each winter, generally mid-November through mid-April. The Washington State Department of Transportation is responsible for clearing the highway of snow and avalanche danger, and repairing any damage incurred during the winter. Avalanches regularly deposit 20 feet of snow on the road.
Diablo Lake is created by one of three dams along the road, run by the Seattle City Light on the Skagit River.
There are 300 glaciers in North Cascades National Park (which the road runs through) and these glaciers grind rock against rock which creates a fine silt that gets suspended in the water and reflects the green of the forest, giving Diablo Lake the lovely jade green hue seen in the photo below.
Gorge Falls was huge and awesome to see and hear, just one of many along the road.