Crown Jewel Wilderness: Creating North Cascades National Park

A Book Review



Crown Jewel Wilderness: Creating North Cascades National Park


Here in Washington state, we are ever so privileged to have access to an abundance of wilderness and public lands. Much of the public areas we enjoy are encompassed under the umbrella of our three National Parks. Outdoors enthusiasts, of the Pacific Northwest, are familiar with Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and North Cascades National Park. While we may be frequent visitors to some or all of these national parks, do you ever wonder how they came to be?

WSU Press brings us Crown Jewel Wilderness: Creating North Cascades National Park, by Lauren Danner, we were given this book in return for a review. As early as the 1800’s, when the land was purposed for logging and mining, the first rustlings of preservation began to arise. The notion that this wilderness should be preserved only gained ground in ideology and literally as the years passed. We are introduced to all sides of the preservation question, pro and con.

Labels not withstanding, the North Cascades remain a wilderness…
— Lauren Danner, Crown Jewel Wilderness

Skillfully we are guided through the ever-changing agencies and entities which played a part in the creation of North Cascades National Park as we know it today, the dynamic border transformations, along with introducing us to the cast of characters for and against its creation. Politicians, outdoorsmen and women, conservationists, utility companies, timber and mining companies, climbing clubs and everyday citizens, among others, had their role in the making of this national park.


Maps, tables, and archival photographs are inserted throughout the pages to give a visual perspective to what is being conveyed in words. Navigating the bumpy and winding timeline up to 1968, when the park was officially established, we are shown the constant political tug-of-war for these precious acres. Striking the balance between resources and recreation is richly illustrated throughout this narrative. 

Champions of preservation and reservation such as Bob Marshall, President Harrison and, John Muir, just to name a few rise to the cause of protecting the North Cascades. President Teddy Roosevelt and Bureau of Forestry director Gifford Pinchot had their hands in the early shaping of the appropriate use of the lands around the Cascades. The Mountaineers, Mazama and Sierra Club provided input and guidance on how the lands should be set aside. Some of the players are familiar and new names and faces are introduced along the way. The number of advocates as well as opponents is vast, but chronicled in careful fashion. 


Our Thoughts

This book is an amazingly well-researched chronology of North Cascades National Park’s history. The depth of detail cannot fail to impress the reader. Gracefully we were escorted through this complex struggle to establish the park we know today. Reading this book brought clearly into view the great importance of the public spaces we have and perhaps, more importantly, the need for vigilance in keeping those spaces protected. Grab this book, take this origins journey. You will never appreciate more fully, the apt name of Crown Jewel! So, lace up your boots and enjoy this hike through history!

You can purchase Crown Jewel Wilderness: Creating North Cascades National Park from WSU Press ($29.95), Amazon ($26.95), or Barnes & Noble ($27.95).


Lauren Danner

About the Book's Author

American Author, Lauren Danner, Ph.D.,  is a writer and historian based in Olympia, Washington. She focuses on public lands policy, Pacific Northwest and environmental history, and outdoor recreation. A former college professor, museum director, and Washington State field coordinator for the Lewis and Clark bicentennial, she now writes at