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Skagit Tours: Experience the North Cascades

Hernann Ambion and Bailey Adams | Apr 20, 2013, 12:47 p.m.
Spectacular views is one of the perks when taking a Skagit Tour with Seattle City Light. Pictured here is Ruby Peak from Diablo Lake

Looking for an outdoor getaway this summer? Visit the rich beauty of the North Cascades through Skagit Tours, brought to you by Seattle City Light.

Skagit Tours provides a recreational and educational experience for people of all ages. You can choose from four different tours and register for a variety of leisure activities throughout the Skagit area.

In 1918, Seattle City Light’s second superintendent, J.D. Ross, had a vision to generate power and electricity by hydroelectric dams for the City of Seattle through the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project. Along the river, there are three dams generating about 20 percent of the electricity for Seattle City Light customers: Gorge, Diablo, and Ross.

Start your adventure with a Diablo Lake Boat Tour. The tour begins with a delicious organic lunch, offered by the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center followed by an exploration of majestic Diablo Lake. Come aboard the grand Alice Ross III, where you will be able to experience nature’s beauty, exploring the scenery that Diablo Lake has to offer.

The North Cascades Explorer Tour offers a combination of walking and van explorations to see the Skagit Hydroelectric Project up close and behind the scenes. National Park Service rangers and naturalists from the North Cascades Institute provide insight and history into the early days of the Skagit project. The tour begins in Newhalem, where you can learn about the early days of the hydroelectric project. Then walk through exquisite Ladder Creek Falls garden and view the inside of the Gorge Powerhouse. From here, you will be taken by van to visit the town of Diablo, home to the famous incline lift that once carried train cars up the side of Sourdough Mountain. Next, visit the all-new, art-deco lobby and viewing gallery at Diablo Powerhouse, where you get the rare opportunity to see the interior of the power generators up close, which is normally closed to the public. The tour is followed by an appetizing picnic lunch as you experience the history, biodiversity and geology of the North Cascades.

The most popular tour is the Skagit Hydroelectric Powerhouse Tour. A limited number of tours are given each year that take you to all three dams, introducing historic features of the hydroelectric plants that provide power to City Light customers. You will learn about the historic town of Newhalem, which was essential to the success of the hydroelectric project. Then visit the Gorge Powerhouse and the pristine Ladder Creek Falls garden. Afterwards, enter into the town of Diablo, where you can view the interior of the Diablo Powerhouse, and then return back to the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, where a delectable lunch awaits. The adventure ends with a boat tour of breathtaking Diablo Lake, where you will see the interior of Ross Powerhouse before arriving back to Newhalem.

The free walking tours of Newhalem are a great way to stroll down the Skagit project’s early days and learn about the history of the Skagit project. Start your tour at the Skagit Information Center – and then make stops along the way to the historical sites that were a vital part of the Skagit project. Some of these must-see Newhalem attractions include Old No. 6, a steam engine that transported workers and supplies during construction of the dams, Silk Stocking Row, and the beautiful Ladder Creek Falls. City Light is renovating a number of buildings in Newhalem and will soon have the Gorge Inn available for visitors. And, do not forget to pick up the “famous” Skagit fudge available at the General

Store. A wonderful reward for a day well spent!

Whether you have visited before or you are a newcomer to the North Cascades, Skagit Tours has something for everyone. It is a combination of beauty, adventure and education you will not soon forget – right in your own backyard! You can save $2 on your reservation as a City Light customer if you reserve your tour before June 15. See the details on the coupon accompanying this article [NOTE – the coupon can be found in the April edition of Northwest Prime Time – available at 1000 locations around the Puget Sound area.]

Make a reservation by calling (360) 854-2589 or by visiting www.skagittours.com

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