For those looking to spend time exploring and enjoying the natural world during their vacation, the lush, temperate rain-forests of Washington State are a destination that offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures. Each year, Washington draws millions of tourists across its borders to see these natural wonders and unspoiled spaces.
The highest peak in the continental US, Mount Rainier overlooks the city of Seattle like a mostly-benevolent giant, although it is an active volcano. Nevertheless, an estimated 10,000 people attempt the climb each year, requiring several days to complete it. For the slightly less-adventurous, Mount Rainier is suitable for winter and year-round activities, including hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, photography, and camping. One popular hike is the Wonderland Trail (93 miles) around the mountain. Most finish the trail in just under two weeks. Campsites are located at convenient intervals.
San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge
Located in the wilderness areas of the San Juan Islands north of Puget Sound, many places in this refuge are not open to tourists; however, for those wishing to explore, Matia Island and Turn Island are managed by the state park system. On Matia Island visitors can enjoy primitive camping, picnicking, saltwater fishing, short-trail hiking, and digging for clams. Turn Island State Park is primarily known for photography.
North Cascades National Park
Located near the Canadian border, North Cascades is primarily a destination for hikers, backpackers, and campers who are seeking the serenity of the great outdoors. Much of the park is surrounded by protected wilderness areas. According to Rita Myers, a recent graduate of the Wildlife Biology program at Unity College, “North Cascades is a great place to enjoy an educational vacation for those interested in ecology, wildlife, and conservation.” If you are new to backpacking, be sure to read up on gear and strongly consider inviting someone with experience, as it can be dangerous.
Olympic National Park
More accessible Olympic includes an unusual feature that is absent from most national parks: backpacking along the beach. The length of the coastline allows for multiple-day hiking excursions with the entire days spent walking along the shore. The park has inland trails as well of varying length and degrees of difficulty.
Alta Lake State Park
For more relaxation than roughing it, many visit Alta Lake for high-quality sailing and golf outings, as well as for summer camping. Many also come to photograph the cliffs looming above the glacier-created lake.
These are five spectacular nature destinations in Washington. They show what the state has to offer to everyone who enjoys the outdoors, from the mountains to the coastal shore. If you do decide to take a trip to Washington, you will probably be back, so know that this list is just a glimpse into this wildly-diverse state.