Olympic National Park is located on the Olympic Peninsula between Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. There you can wander through trails in an ancient rain forest, where stands of Sitka spruce and Western hemlock grow hundreds of feet tall. Dwarfed along with the lush ferns and knee-high flowers beneath this canopy of trees you’ll be in the heart of unspoiled nature.
Sixty miles southeast of the Puget Sound area, the tallest point in the state, Mt. Rainier, dominates the skyline. A visit to the National Park affords up close views of this dormant volcano’s massive glaciers and vast snowfields. In the summer the mountain’s trails reach far up to the summit, but you need not venture that far to experience alpine meadows filled with wildflowers and streams rushing through forested valleys.
In 1980 Mount St. Helens made headlines when its snow-capped peak erupted, blasting away the 1300 feet of the mountain. Today the best views of its crater are from Windy Ridge, near Spirit Lake, on the northeast side. The area is now a National Volcanic Monument with a Visitor’s Center near Castle Rock. Further up the mountain, additional visitor’s centers explain how fifteen years of healing and reforestation efforts have helped Mount St. Helens recover much of its natural beauty.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is shared by Washington on the north and Oregon on the south. From dramatic views high on Beacon Rock, near Skamania, to white water at White Salmon, the Gorge offers distinctive scenery. A road trip along this historic waterway will pass not only some the world’s finest windsurfing, but a life-size replica of England’s Stonehenge perched on a windy bluff.
Lake Chelan is a spectacular setting for one of Washington’s leading recreational areas. It features pristine glacier-fed waters and the surrounding Chelan Valley, with its apple orchards, rolling hills, wide sandy beaches, and lakefront resorts.