The Cascade Range (or Cascades) is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California. It includes both non-volcanic mountains, such as the North Cascades, and the notable volcanoes known as the High Cascades. The small part of the range in British Columbia is referred to as the Canadian Cascades or, locally, as the Cascade Mountains. The latter term is also sometimes used by Washington residents to refer to the Washington section of the Cascades in addition to North Cascades, the more usual US term, as in North Cascades National Park.
The Cascades are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the ring of volcanoes and associated mountains around the Pacific Ocean. All of the eruptions in the contiguous United States over the last 200 years have been from Cascade volcanoes. The two most recent were Lassen Peak in 1914 to 1921 and a major eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Minor eruptions of Mount St. Helens have also occurred since, most recently in 2006.
The Cascades extend from Lassen Peak (also known as Mount Lassen) in northern California to the confluence of the Nicola and Thompson Rivers in British Columbia. The Fraser River separates the Cascades from the Coast Mountains. The highest volcanoes of the Cascades, known as the High Cascades, dominate their surroundings, often standing twice the height of the nearby mountains. They often have a visual height (height above nearby crestlines) of 1 mi (1.6 km) or more. The highest peaks, such as the 14,411 ft (4,392 m) high Mount Rainier, dominate their surroundings for 50 to 100 mi (80 to 160 km).
The Cascades include active volcanic activity, such as with the May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The tectonics of the region has been extensively studied to help describe the extent of the shifting and volcanic problems.
Human Uses And Legends:
Soil conditions for farming are generally good, especially downwind of volcanoes. This is largely due to the fact that volcanic rocks are often rich in potassium bearing minerals such as Orthoclase and decay easily. Volcanic debris, especially lahars, also have a leveling effect and the storage of water in the form of snow and ice is also important. These snow capped mountains such as Mt. Hood and Mt.Bachelor are used as ski resorts in the late winter. Much of that water eventually flows into reservoirs where it is used for recreation before its potential energy is captured to generate hydroelectric power before being used to irrigate crops.
Because of the abundance of powerful streams, many of the major westward rivers off the Cascades have been dammed to provide hydroelectric power. One of these, Ross Dam on the Skagit River, created a reservoir which spans the border southeast of Hope, British Columbia, extending into Canada 2 mi (3.2 km). At the foot of the southeast flank of Mount Baker, at Concrete, Washington, the Baker River is dammed to form Lake Shannon and Baker Lake.
There is a wide range of flora and fauna inhabiting the Cascade Range. The southern part of the Cascades are within what Conservation International defines as the California Floristic Province, an area of high biodiversity. Black bears, coyotes, bobcats, cougars, Beavers, deer, and elk and a few wolf pack returning from Canada live in the Cascades, and in the northern mountains, Grizzly bears. Most of the Cascades' lower and middle elevations are covered in coniferous forest and temperate rainforest; the higher altitudes have areas of alpine tundra and glaciers. Common trees include Western hemlock and Douglas fir.