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.
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.
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.
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.
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.