Along a narrow section of the Skagit River near the entrance to North Cascades National Park/Ross Lake National Recreation Area Washington Highway 20 crosses over a roughly 300-foot deep granite chasm where Gorge Creek tumbles 242 feet, creating scenic Gorge Creek Falls. In total, Gorge Creek Falls has five major drops. The tallest measures 100 feet and is certainly most impressive in the spring when melting glaciers from the North Cascades above create powerful runoff. During the summer months the creek can slow to a mere drizzle.
The National Park Service has created a 0.8-mile paved interpretive loop to view not only the falls but Gorge Dam and Gorge Lake (its reservoir) as well; however, with thick vegetation growing year-by-year, vistas from the trail have become scarce.
Gorge Dam, the first of the three dams associated with Seattle City Light's Skagit River Hydroelectric Project, was first constructed in 1921. In 1961 a taller Gorge Dam was constructed and replaced its predecessor. Construction of Diablo Dam (holding back Diablo Lake) began in 1927, while Ruby Dam (holding back Ross Lake) began in 1937. In 2012 approximately 90 percent of Seattle's electricity was provided by hydroelectric dams, including those on the Skagit and Pend Oreille Rivers.