North Cascades National Park, Washington State: Guide and Photo Gallery

camping, hiking, National Parks, Pacific North West, Uncategorized, Washington State

North Cascades National Park is heaven on earth.

It hugs the Canadian boarder, you’ll even get some “Welcome to Canada” texts if you happen to have service any point!

It encompasses serene alpine lakes, endless mountain peaks and dense forest! Everywhere you drive or go is another breathtaking view! It never ends. For Forests floors are filled with ferns and moss. I’m sure there are tons of huckleberries too but we went a little to early in the year for that!

The hikes we went on were very dangerous, we got stuck more than once, so I’m not going to publicly recommend them! If you want the details, feel free to email me or find me on instagram, or Facebook! 

The dense, lush forest of the Cascades. So beautiful!

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

Diablo Lake:

This lake is one of the most iconic spots in the North Cascades.

Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park

Yes, the water is this blue in person! It’s breathtaking. This was before we even hiked or camp, just a beautiful stop as you drive thru the park. Every twist and turn has your eye balls exploding out of your head with excitement.

We took these photos at a scenic turnout right off the main road. 

We stayed at a campground just across the lake from the scenic turn out! There was a nice little trail connected to the campground that we went did the first afternoon. It had beautiful views of the lake! There was absolutely no phone service. There was an investigation going on for a missing person and we were spooked so we only stayed at this spot for one night!

The forest there is super dense. You can see how sunny it is outside, but it’s pretty dark still back in the trees! (I’m from WA state so I’m used to it). It also gets super cold at night. Bring winter or warm clothes for night time, even in the summer!

We make sure to bring the Jetboil so we can have hot coffee during the chilly mornings! It’s super lightweight and compact, which makes it easy to bring around. Not sure how I survived without one before with how much I’m hiking and camping.

We also usually do car camping. It’s safer for women and a little warmer and secure than a tent!

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains


There are both black bears and grizzly bears in these woods. Do not go anywhere without bear spray! I would bring multiple canisters of it to be safe. You can get it at most outdoors stores or get it on amazon! And some knives you can strap to the front of your pack!

Bear Spray on Amazon

We even brought ours to the bathroom every single time. 

The next morning we went up to the small town of Marble Mount. It’s one of the only place with phone service and amenities! Its about 30-minutes from Diablo Lake. We found a map and hoped online to find an awesome hike. Which we did find, it just didn’t turn out exactly as planned. Ooops.

The Amazing Mystery Hike

I’m not sharing this hike location, it’s too dangerous and I don’t want to set anyone up for failure! I’m sure you can find it on the AllTrails App by comparing pictures! 

North Cascades National Park Hike
What’s better than a PB&J on a hamburger bun via mountaintop?!

Were both very experienced hikers, it was just a tricky hike with very high elevation. We probably would have been fine later in the year. We hiked far up the Grand Tetons in July and there was minimal snow! Those few weeks can make a big difference in the mountains.

With any hike you go on in this park, make sure to bring warm clothes. Even if it’s super hot out! The temperature can drop quickly. These mountains aren’t ones to be messed with! We started the hike when it was in the 80’s and we were shivering by the time we got down. We each brought a long sleeve too. Be prepared for temperature changes as the elevation climbs and as the sun fades!

We ended up summiting this peak on accident! Lol. 

Summit a North Cascade Peak
North Cascades National Park

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

It was incredible but we were stuck up there for a long time. The snow is super easy to climb up, and yet super hard to get down! We fell a long ways at one point! It was super steep. We may or may not have been hanging from bushes with our feet dangling at one point…. while massive spiders crawled over out hands. And no, I’m not kidding. We are both terribly afraid of spiders too haha.

Stranded and stressed. Summit Fever got to us.
Rebuilding energy with a snack on the way back down.

Lesson learned (a few years ago): deeply research every hike before you go on them! And don’t summit a Cascade Peak until at least July! (We went in mid June). Always being extra warm clothes, no matter how short or easy the hike may seem.

There wasn’t a gate or people charging money when we went, but things can change over the year so it’s better to prepared for National Park fees. Mt Rainier National Park was surprisingly the same! No gate but there was a big visitors center at the top.

You can get in for free if you have a National Park Service Pass. The pass costs $75 for the entire year, or you can pay anytime you enter but it adds up fast. A lot of parks charge $20 a car. I always get mine renewed every year! The pass also now comes with a parking pass, which hangs from your rear view window.

Stay safe and stay groovy!

Stunning Scenic Lake In Southern Colorado: Smith Reservoir!

This is an awesome little road trip stop if you find yourself in southern Colorado! This reservoir is small but it’s so beautiful! I drove from Austin, Texas, cut over into New Mexico just before Amarillo and winded through some back highways until I got into souther CO! My grandpa taught me to always take…

Flaming Gorge Reservoir: Road Trip Stop On The Utah/ Wyoming Border

I’m always looking for new and beautiful places to explore around the United States! A lot of the time I will just zoom in on my apple maps on a green area or a body of water, and then research whatever names are posted in that area! That’s how I found the Flaming Gorge. I…

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado: Rocky Mountain Sand Dunes

Colorado is such a beautiful state! I’m so glad I took this route on my way up to Washington State! I weirdly had never been to Colorado, one of the only states I hadn’t been to yet (aside from the airport)! 🤯 seems like the first place I’d go lol. I also stopped at the…

Sedona, Arizona: Camping, BLM Land and Hiking Guide

arizona, camping, hiking

Arizona is an incredibly beautiful state. I appreciate it more and more each time I visit! This previous time… I stayed for 2 months. Ooops! I was there during the chaos of Covid-19, so it felt better for me to stay put for a while!

Sedona is one of the most beautiful places you can visit to hike and explore outdoors in the United States.

There’s a mix of Ponderosa Pine forest, red rock, desert and rivers!

Ponderosa Pine in Arizona

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

I found more than one stunning BLM (free land to camp) spots, tons of hiking trails, and lots of resources in the surrounding towns: Sedona, Cottonwood, and Prescott are the ones I frequented.

I also went on an amazing hike! A lot of trails were closed for COVID when I was there (they are open now), but I did find an awesome trail that was still open, I added it to the bottom here! You can use the AllTrails app to find some other others. I’ve heard Devil’s Bridge and Bear Mountain Trail are both lovely too.

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

Loy Butte/ Boynton Canyon Rd BLM: Free scenic camping near Sedona!

This was an UNREAL location to post up for a couple weeks. I was there in March so the weather was ideal. The mornings and evenings were cool, and the days were warm.

This BLM is located of highway 89A, which is one of my all time favorite highways to drive. If you are driving between Sedona and Cottonwood on 89A, you turn off on to Loy Butte road (there should only be one way to turn… turn right if you are coming from Sedona, and turn left off the highway if you are coming from Cottonwood.

Probably better than most men at chopping wood.

It’s a gravel road that connects all the way to the highway on the other side. There are spots all throughout this area you can stay for free! The further in you go, the more scenic it gets!

The road was fairly rough but it’s manageable. There were a good mix of big RV’s, tents and vans! Just be careful.

IPA’s are my favorite adult drink!

Hangout Out at the BLM/ Free Land to Camp On

** you can find other BLM spots to camp for free on the BLM (bureau of land management) website**

We were able to have fires at the time; I would double check before having one depending on the time of year! We cooked some feasts using a combination of cooking over the fire, which I usually use to cook my meats, and I use my Jet Boil for a lot of cooking!

In the mornings I would get up and start my day with hot coffee. It’s so nice to have hot coffee when you’re out in nature, I make it in under two minutes just by using my jet boil and instant coffee , I always get the organic kind. Coffee is one of those sneaky things that has a lot of chemicals.. I just clip my Jet boil cup to the burner; add water, light it and I have boiling water in about a minute. Not sure how I got by without it before!

There’s also a lot of attachments for the jet boil that make it easy to use in a variety of ways. I’ll never go back to using anything else. It’s so lightweight and easy to use. I even bring it on my super long hikes to make pick-me-up meals so that I have energy for the long trek back to the car.

Jet Boil French Press attachment, so handy!:

Jet Boil French Press Coffee/Tea

Click Here For this Amazing Hiking Near Sedona (in video below).

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

I drank 40oz of water on this hike, so important to stay hydrated. I love Camelbacks (they hold a lot of water) and I use them on super long hikes, but on 1-8 mile hikes, I typically just bring my Hydroflask since I prefer ice water. I have a 40oz Hydroflask and it keeps my ice water cold all day, no matter how hot out it is! (they have smaller and larger ones as well).

Boynton Canyon Hike, Arizona

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

Feel free to email me or message me on instagram with any questions! (no spam).

Stay safe and groovy!

The Mojave Desert: A South West Road Trip Essential Stop!

This was a quick stop for me on my drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles! I always try to see any many places as possible when I’m on road trips, even if I only have time to stop for a few hours. This place was nothing like I had never seen before! Growing up…

Ocean Jet Skiing in Destin, Florida: Destin Beach Trip Mini Guide

Destin and the entire Florid Panhandle have a ton of very underrated beaches! If you’re looking for white sand, and bright blue water, this is the spot! And it’s a pretty affordable vacation spot! I’ve been to the Panhandle a handful of time and it’s been a blast for all of them! Pro tip: it’s…

Tennessee Waterfall Hike: Burgress Falls State Park

I wasn’t sure how I was going to like living in Tennessee, after growing up in the beautiful Pacific North West, but I was pleasantly surprised! Tennessee is extremely lush and has hills and mountains. There a lot of waterfalls to visit! (Here’s another one of my favorite Tennessee Waterfalls). This hike is right off…

Middle Tennessee’s Best Hike, Waterfall, and Swimming Hole: Cummins Falls

I lived in Nashville, Tennessee for a couple years and this waterfall and swimming hole is by far my favorite place in the State.  Also… side note! If you’re going to Cummins Falls you should definitely spend some time in Nashville! I will be writing up a post on the best spots to go in…

Hiking Red Rock Canyon: Best Las Vegas Hikes- Calico Hills

I spent a couple months in the greater Las Vegas area! Between the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Red Rock Canyon National Park! All of which are beautiful in their own way! One of my favorite hikes and hot springs is close by as well! It goes along the emerald colored Colorado river. If you…

Big Tree State Park, Northern California Road Trip

I was making the trip from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe, and of course decided to take the back roads! (Which also lead to another cool discovery and long dead end). I didn’t have a big plan, I was car camping and was stopping and going as I pleased! Luckily I saw the signs for Big…

Yosemite Valley, California Road Trip Stops

If you haven’t been to The Yosemite yet, add it to the bucket list! I give this place an 11/10 for beauty. It truly is one of the most breathtaking places you’ll go to! I drove in from Los Angeles Overnight. I want to say it was about a 4 ish hour drive! My cat,…

Southern California Road Trip Stop: The Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is the largest lake in the state of California! This lake is very close to where they host Coachella! I made a pit stop here on my South West road trip, traveling from Arizona to Southern California. There isn’t a ton to do in the area, but it’s a super unique place…


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Car Camping: An Affordable and Safe Way to Travel The Country Van Life Style

camping, Car Camping, nomad, Road Trip, Van Life

I get a lot of questions on how I life the “Van Life” without having an actual Van or RV. It’s taken a lot of trial and error to find the best ways to live like this, but I have found ways to make it cozy, comfortable and affordable!

I also love that car camping allows you to lock your “bed” while your sleep. My SUV has an alarm too so I always feel at ease when I’m asleep.

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

Mountain Car Camping with Sleeping bag in Summer 2018

Setting Up the Bed

We spend a lot of time sleeping… well were supposed to anyways… so having a comfortable and safe place to sleep when you’re living on the road is very important.

  1. Start but laying down all of the back seats in your SUV (or whichever vehicle you are using). If it doesn’t lay down completely flat, I would recommend taking the seats out completely and storing them somewhere safe (hey, mom and dad!)
  2. Place some sort of soft pad on the bottom. I bought a 2 inch pad, click here. If you are doing it short term, feel free to grab the one off your bed, just make sure it has a sheet (or maybe two, one for each side) so that it doesn’t get dirty!
  3. If the weather is cold, pack a sleeping bag, If it’s on the warmer side bring blankets so that your body can breath. If you are in the mountains I would recommend always having a sleeping bag, it gets cold at night! Right now I have a regular king sized blanket. I like to get them bigger than my car so that I can bunch them up on the side for extra cushion.
  4. Bring Pillows! I have four pillows, again to add some extra cushion and make it cozier!
  5. Set up battery or solar powered lights inside (I use this waterproof solar lantern). This was a game changer for me to help me relax in the evening after the sun goes down. Having lights in there makes it feel more like home and allows you to read, write and draw! … or to see your beautiful fur babies face!
  6. Face your trunk pointing towards the best view. I love relaxing with the back trunk wide open in bed while enjoying a beautiful view.
  7. Cover with a tarp and pack your things on top of it!

Setting Up Outdoors

My best friend and I do car camping together, we fit two in this Rav4 we rented (I didn’t have an SUV yet) comfortably.
  1. TARPS. I love tarps (outdoor rugs work too!). I set them up outside of every entrance of my car I’m going to use. This allows you to keep your shoes by your door without tracking a bunch of dirt into your car. I put one outside of the trunk and one outside of the back side doors (you can’t open the trunk from the inside so in the morning you have to go out of the side). Amazon basics has some nice and affordable tarps.
  1. Folding table. I have a folding table that lays flat in the back of my car on top of my bed. I usually set it up near the fire pit, since that’s where I prep most of my food. Put it where you are going to cook! Having a table makes a huge difference, you can find some affordable ones online and in store.
  2. If there isn’t any shade, I create some. A lot of people use an easy up, I don’t have one (yet), so I typically open my trunk and use bungee cords to hook a tarp to the top of it and then clip the other side of the tarp to a tree or another car near by! This creates shade just outside of your bed and makes a bigger shelter! I do this when it rains too to give me more dry space.

They also have those really cool tents that you can attach to the back of your open SUV trunk!

SUV Tent, so badass.

4. OPTIONAL. Set up your hammock on your campsite. I love relaxing and taking naps in my hammock, gives a cozy feel to your “home”.

Setting up the tent and unloading the car!

Efficient Packing

You obviously don’t have to pack the way I do, but I’ve learned a lot from others over the year on how to pack efficiently and in a very organized way.

If you aren’t interested in the “Van Life” and just want to go on a little camping trip, skip to step 2!

1. Become a MINIMALIST. This is one of the most challenging parts. We all learn to love and become attached to our belongings. You just need to pull the bandage and DO IT.

I got rid of almost everything, aside from a little bit of clothes and some kitchen and bathroom essentials.

I picked a few “cute” outfits to keep for when I meet up with friends or go out and got rid of the rest! It was hard but I knew I wanted to make the transition into this lifestyle so I did what I had to do.

I have one (shallow) clear tub of pants, one for t-shirts & tanks, one for long sleeve & athletic tops and then a deep large tub or warmer clothes (jacket, sweatshirts, gloves, snow pants).

2. I pack EVERYTHING in clear plastic tubs with lids. Click here for the ones I’m talking about! This is way cheaper than buying in person too. In person they are about $8 a piece. on amazon you can get 6 of the nice ones that have the lids that lock shut for about $30. I mean I put EVERYTHING in them. Underwear, food, shampoo, you name it! I got a lot of this from Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix; she does into a lot of detail as to why packing in clear tubs is important.

Clear tubs allow you to see exactly what’s inside without having to dig through it. They also store and stack nicely if you get uniform ones. I have found that the shallow, but large size are best for staying organized.

3. Pack your food in one, cooking supplies in another, clothing in one, bathroom supplies, etc.! Combine two different things if there’s room.

Setting up the car bed! (Shawn at the end)

How to Find Places to Camp

First, be sure to check my camping section, I’m working on adding more!

There are a ton of campsites all over the United States and Canada, and plenty of them are free! In fact, some of my all time favorite places to stay have been on free sites.

One of the best ways to find free land to camp on is by going onto the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site and finding free public land. You can stay in these places for up to two weeks and then after your time is up you have to move at least 20 miles to the next BLM spot. These are always free, but they don’t have facilities (water and bathroom) so you need to go extra prepared!

Another great way to find BLM spots on your phone and other FREE spots is through the Boondocking app. It will show you all of the free spots around the United States and also gives you information for each spot.

Another great website/app I use is This site/app will show you all places to camp, free and with ones that cost money. I like this one because it has filters. You can put if you want showers and other amenities.

Lastly, the park4night app is another great resource for finding all different types of places to stay. This one will also show you parking lots that allow you to crash overnight in your Car, SUV or Van. It also has BLM land and campgrounds and typically provides information on each location.

With the van life, if you just need a quick spot to pull over and sleep, Wal mart allows overnight travelers to stay overnight in their parking lot (most locations, double check before). This might sound sketchy, but it is actually one of the safest options. There are security cameras, security, and indoor bathroom.

Stay safe and have fun!

Follow me in Instagram for more of my in-the-moment adventures! @maggmountains

If you have anything to add or ask, please comment or email me! I’d love to chat and get more tips and answer your questions. (enter below)