Interesting facts about the Cascade Range

cascade range

The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range of western North America.

It runs from Canada‘s British Columbia through the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon to Northern California.

The range stretches 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) north-to-south, and is approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) across east-to-west.

Many peaks in the Cascade Range exceed 3,000 meters (10,000 feet).

The highest peak in the range is Mount Rainier in Washington at 4,392 meters (4,411 feet) above sea level. It is also the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington. Mt. Rainier is a large active stratovolcano and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.

mount rainier

The range includes both non-volcanic mountains, such as the North Cascades, and the notable volcanoes known as the High Cascades.

The northern part of the range, north of Mount Rainier, is known as the North Cascades. It is extremely rugged, with many of the lesser peaks steep and glaciated. While most of the peaks are under 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) in elevation, the low valleys provide great local relief, often over 1,800 meters (6,000 feet).

The highest volcanoes of the Cascades are called the High Cascades dominate their surroundings, often standing twice the height of the nearby mountains.

All of the eruptions in the contiguous United States over the last 200 years have been from Cascade volcanoes.

Two most recent were Lassen Peak in 1914 to 1921 and a major eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 [photo below].

eruption mount st helens

The Cascades are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the ring of volcanoes and associated mountains around the Pacific Ocean.

The Cascades are continued by the Coast Mountains of British Columbia to the north and the Sierra Nevada to the south.

The Cascade Range is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of such ranges that form the western “backbone” of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica.

Except for the peaks lying above the timberline, the entire range is heavily wooded. Cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers favor evergreen species, whereas mild temperatures and rich soils promote fast and prolonged growth.

cascade range forest

The Cascade mountain range is named for waterfalls — hundreds of them, big and small, that cascade down streams and plunge over cliffs, carrying huge amounts of water from winter rains and melting snow.

Probably the most famous, Multnomah Falls is located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. The falls drops in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 165 meters (542 feet) and a lower falls of 21 meters (69 feet), with a gradual 3 meters (9 foot) drop in elevation between the two, so the total height of the waterfall is conventionally given as 189 meters (620 feet). It is the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States.

multnomah falls

Of the many lakes in the Cascades, Crater Lake, is the most famous. The lake is 8 by 9.7 kilometers (5 by 6 miles) across, with a caldera rim ranging in elevation from 2,100 to 2,400 meters (7,000 to 8,000 feet). Crater Lake is 594 meters (1,949 feet) deep at its deepest point, which makes it the deepest lake in the United States, the second deepest in North America and the tenth deepest in the world. The lake is popular

crater lake

The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River in the Cascades. Up to 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) deep, the canyon stretches for over 130 kilometers (80 miles) as the river winds westward through the Cascade Range. The gorge holds federally protected status as a National Scenic Area called the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and is managed by the Columbia River Gorge Commission and the US Forest Service. The gorge is a popular recreational destination.

columbia river gorge

There are four U.S. National Parks in the Cascade Range:
Mount Rainier National Park [photo below] was established on in 1899 as the fourth national park in the United States. The park encompasses 95,660 hectares (236,381 acres) including Mount Rainier, the highest peak in the range.
• Crater Lake National Park established in 1902 as the fifth national park in the United States. It is the only national park in Oregon. The park encompasses the caldera of Crater Lake, a remnant of a destroyed volcano, Mount Mazama, and the surrounding hills and forests.
• Lassen Volcanic National Park was established in 1916 while its namesake peak was erupting. The park includes the most extensive and active thermal areas in the United States outside Yellowstone National Park.
• North Cascades National Park is located in the state of Washington. The park was established in 1968. It features rugged mountain peaks and protects portions of the North Cascades range.

mount rainier national park

There are also many U.S. National Monuments, U.S. Wilderness Areas, and U.S. National Forests. Each classification protects the various glaciers, volcanoes, geothermal fields, rivers, lakes, forests, and wildlife to varying degrees.

Animals that inhabit the range include black bears, coyotes, bobcats, cougars, foxes, beavers, porcupine, skunk, marmot, deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, and a few wolf packs returning from Canada live in the Cascades. Fewer than 50 grizzly bears reside in the Cascades of Canada and Washington.

cascade range animal

The Cascade Range has had a major influence on the climate, agriculture, economics, population spread, and settlement patterns of the Northwestern United States and the Pacific Northwest region of NorthAmerica, and have been a major facet of life for generations of Native Americans.

Native Americans have inhabited the area for thousands of years and developed their own myths and legends concerning the Cascades. According to some of these tales, Mounts Baker, Jefferson, and Shasta were used as refuge from a great flood. Other stories, such as the Bridge of the Gods tale, had various High Cascades such as Mount Hood and Mount Adams, act as god-like chiefs who made war by throwing fire and stone at each other.

In early 1792, British navigator George Vancouver explored Puget Sound and gave English names to the high mountains he saw.

In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through the Cascades on the Columbia River, which for many years was the only practical way to pass that part of the range.

American settlement of the flanks of the Coast Range did not occur until the early 1840s, at first only marginally.

Soil conditions for farming are generally good, especially downwind of volcanoes. This is largely because volcanic rocks are often rich in potassium bearing minerals such as orthoclase and decay easily.

Because of the abundance of powerful streams, many of the major westward rivers off the Cascades have been dammed to provide hydroelectric power.

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