The Wild Side of Washington — Rain Forests to Desert Climates

Wash­ing­ton State is one of the most eco­log­i­cal­ly diverse states in the coun­try. From the ocean-lined rain­for­est on the west coast to the high alpine lakes of the Cas­cade Moun­tains and the shrub-steppe desert envi­ron­ment in the east, Wash­ing­ton has it all. What’s that mean for you? More out­door activ­i­ties than you’ll ever have time for. Here’s a taste of what to expect:

West­ern Wash­ing­ton and Rain­forests
Wash­ing­ton may be the image most peo­ple con­jure up when they think about the Pacif­ic North­west: rugged ocean lined with steep cliffs, moss cov­ered trees, and enough rainy days to require buy­ing an umbrel­la. The tem­per­a­ture varies: despite what you’ve heard, hot do tem­per­a­tures exist in the sum­mer, and the fall and spring are mild. That said, expect rain. It’s home to Olympic Nation­al Park and the Hoh Nation­al Rain­for­est, one of the largest tem­per­a­ture rain forests in the coun­try, and a great place to see vir­gin tim­ber and a huge vari­ety of flo­ra and fauna.

hoh rainforest
Hoh Nation­al Rainforest


Active Vol­ca­noes
The state of Wash­ing­ton has five active vol­ca­noes. (Although Mount Saint Helen’s is the only one to have erupt­ed in recent his­to­ry with a mem­o­rable blast that cov­ered most of the state with ash and smoke in 1980.) The most promi­nent of the five is Mount Rainier, which over­shad­ows the city of Seat­tle and is the scene of spec­tac­u­lar adven­ture pursuits. 

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier


Puget Sound
Com­prised of inlets, chan­nels, and estu­ar­ies, Puget Sound is home to the San Juan Islands, where kayaks, sail­boats, and fish­ing ves­sels can be found island hop­ping every day of the week.

Whidbey Island in Puget Sound
Whid­bey Island in Puget Sound


Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton and the Cas­cade Moun­tains
The Cas­cades split the state in two from north to south. These moun­tain peaks—the largest being Rainier at over 14,000—boast a wide range of micro ecosys­tems, from dense conifer forests to high alpine tun­dra. A good way to check out all the action is to plan a trip to the North Cas­cades Nation­al Park dur­ing the sum­mer or late spring.

Full Lake Rocky Shot
Eight-Mile Lake in the Cas­cade Moun­tains, part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Mount Baldyface Photoshopped
Lake Wenatchee in Cen­tral Washington
Sage Hills Rest Stop
Bik­ers Rest in Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton, east of the Cas­cade Moun­tains where desert envi­ron­ments persist


High Desert Envi­ron­ment of East­ern Wash­ing­ton 
Thanks to the tall peaks of the Cas­cades, Wash­ing­ton expe­ri­ences a mas­sive rain shad­ow, allow­ing for a par­tic­u­lar­ly dry cli­mate through­out the entire east­ern side of the state, the place to go for sum­mer riv­er raft­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, and year-round rock climbing.


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