Life in the Evergreen State
The infamous rainfall pays off in the summer. Washington state is a nature lover’s dream. Explore gorgeous landscapes from iconic National Parks to Seattle’s best urban parks.
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Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
One of the most-visited forests in the country, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest features ancient trees and beautiful mountain meadows. The Evergreen Lookout trail is popular in the summer for wildflowers.
North Cascades National Park
No, this photo hasn’t been photoshopped. The water in Diablo Lake really is that green. Jade lakes can be found throughout Washington but Diablo is the most famous. Take the North Cascades Scenic Highway and stop at the Diablo Lake Overlook for a scene that is Instagram gold.
Volunteer Park is a hipster favorite in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. There are meadows to picnic and one of the city’s “Big Three” wading pools but the crown jewel is the conservatory. Explore Instagrammable rooms of ferns, orchids and cactus.
The Palouse Hills
Nope, not Ireland. This is still Washington. The rolling, green hills of Palouse, a region that spans parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, are picture perfect and a Pacific Northwest must-see.
Less than an hour's drive from downtown Seattle, Snoqualmie, Washington is a Twin Peaks film location wonderland and home to Snoqualmie Falls. The 270-foot waterfall is one of Washington state’s most-visited tourist attractions with more than 1.5 million visitors per year. There are two observation platforms. The top area is an easy walk from the parking lot, but the lower area requires a hike. Be sure to bring a rain jacket or poncho and accept that you will get wet. The mist off the waterfall is incredibly powerful. Use a waterproof sports camera or at least take a waterproof phone case.
The iconic icy volcano is a landmark in so many Washington state landscapes. It can be seen from downtown Seattle and can be seen rising above Gig Harbor from the north side of the harbor. Though snow-capped year-round, the volcano is best seen during the summer when tons of colorful wildflowers circle the base. Hike through ancient forests and along the Paradise Flower Trail for incredible flora views.
Olympic National Park
Did you know Washington has a rain forest? The Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park is a surreal landscape with lush greenery, moss covered trees and tons of ferns. For backcountry campers, the park’s Enchanted Valley is a must. It’s exactly what it sounds like and truly looks like a magical fairytale forest with tons of gorgeous waterfalls.
Lavender may be associated with France but fields can be found throughout Washington and especially in Sequim, “The Lavender Capital of North America.” The town’s annual Lavender Festival features free farm tours throughout the area.
How many people can say they've been to the most northwestern point of the continental United States? Located on the Olympic Peninsula, ape Flattery can be reached via an easy walkway path through the forest. Though the Olympic National Park is close by, this iconic point is located on the Makah American Indian Reserve.
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Can’t afford a flight to Europe this spring? Waltz through acres of red, pink, yellow, purple and orange tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in upstate Washington. The valley, about an hour north of downtown Seattle, has the largest tulip fields in North America and the festival is massive with more than 350 acres of tulips.
Jade Lake. Perfection Lake. Enchantment Lake. These places sound like they’re from a fairy tale but they’re real and they live up to the magical names. The Alpine Lakes Wilderness area, or the Enchantments, have some of the best rock climbing in the country. But just as the lakes have fantasy names, so do the rocks. Climbs include Bloody Tower, Cruel Thumb and Crocodile Fang.
Discovery Park is one of Seattle’s best urban parks with trails so heavily wooded you won’t believe you’re still in the city. But the jewel of the park is the beach. You’ll get mountain views plus a historic lighthouse that makes excellent Instagrams. And the pebble beach is a great spot to learn how to skip rocks.