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Recreation in the Dazzling Evergreen State

Washington can be known for its urban metropolises like Seattle with the iconic Space Needle, but the outdoor splendor that is the Washington countryside is not without its charm. Dazzling skylines of the Washington Cascades, gorgeous sunsets of Puget Sound and the Washington coast, and the beautiful Okanagen Valley of eastern Washington all create what we envision as the scenic northwest.

Visit the impressive Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument near Kelso in southern Washington, and only peel your eyes away from the mountainous skyline to explore the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake. Found yourself near the scenic city of Othello? Take a break from the rain and make the trip to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge for bird watching, fishing and even hunting.

The best way to explore the scenery of Washington is through the many national and state parks of the Evergreen State. Discover the beauty of the northwest, and make Washington your favorite vacation spot.

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park – the fifth established national park in the country – is a gorgeous getaway covering nearly 24,000 acres of Washington countryside near Yakima and Ellensburg. Iconized by the famed Mt. Rainier, this national park is a staple of the U.S. National Park Service and the state of Washington.

Make your way to Paradise – home to the Paradise Historic District – and explore the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center while taking in the view of the Tatoosh Range, and of course, Mount Rainier. Head to the Nisqually River Valley for a visit to Longmire – a visitor center home to a Wilderness Information Center and the Longmire Museum.

From there, you can hike out a chunk of the 93-mile Wonderland Trail encircling Mt. Rainier National Park, or head to the northeast corner of the park for the Sunrise Visitor Center – the highest point in Mt. Rainier

Rainbow Falls State Park

Set just west of Chehalis in southwestern Washington, Rainbow Falls State Park is a scenic escape in the beautiful Chehalis Valley. Here, you may take advantage of the many multipurpose trails, freshwater fishing and swimming, and other recreational opportunities like bird watching and wildlife viewing.

Snap an unforgettable photo of Rainbow Falls State Park’s rainbow-crowned waterfall, or take in some horseback riding during your time in this Washington state park. Visit the park’s beautiful fuchsia garden, or find a spot along 3,400 feet of shoreline for salmon, catfish and trout fishing on the Chehalis River. Challenge a fellow traveler to a game of horseshoes, and spend lunch with the family at one of the designated picnic areas.

Olympic National Park

Nestled in the northwestern corner of Washington, the Olympic National Park is a diverse haven encompassing everything from the scenic coastline of the Pacific Ocean to an actual rainforest. Found west of Seattle and northwest of Tacoma and Lacey, the Olympic National Park offers backpacking, skiing and even rafting. Take the whole day to hike along the beach, or trek your way through Olympic National Park to reach Sol Duc Falls – the ideal photo opportunity.

Pack the tackle box and find a spot along the Dickey River, Hoh River or Quillayute River for steelhead trout, mountain whitefish, and sockeye salmon. Winter visitors, head to the Hurricane Ridge Ski & Snowboard Area within the park for Nordic and alpine skiing, and see if you can squeeze in a snowball fight and snowman building with the kids.

Iron Horse State Park

Found in central Washington, Iron Horse State Park is a fixture of the Cascade Mountains and Yakima River Valley offering adventurous recreation fit for any fan of the outdoors. Iron Horse State Park is home to the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, a former railroad track and historic trail running through the stunning Washington Cascades.

More paths course through Iron Horse State Park, creating a 100-mile network of trails ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Guests may also look forward to a day of everything from tranquil bird watching and wildlife viewing to intense rock climbing.

Visiting in the winter? Make your way to Iron Horse State Park for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing – plus snowmobiling, dog sledding, and some classic snowman building with the family, and all near Cle Elum.

Battle Ground Lake State Park

A favorite to outdoor lovers, Battle Ground Lake State Park in Battle Ground centers around its namesake crater lake. It was originally formed when magma rising from the Earth's center encountered ground water and created a steam explosion, leaving the bean-shaped crater lake behind. Surrounding the lake are 280 acres of beautiful evergreen forests in southeastern Washington.

Visitors can hike, mountain bike, and ride horses throughout the park's trails. The lake allows non-motorized boating, swimming, and fishing while nearby fields accommodate baseball, softball, volleyball, and badminton. The park is open from 6:30 a.m. to dusk in the summer and 8:00 a.m. to dusk in the winter.

Bay View State Park

On your next stay in Mount Vernon, head for the Bay View State Park and enjoy a fun-filled day of outdoor adventures. Open year round, Bay View State Park is nestled along the southeastern shore of Padilla Bay – less than 11 miles west of downtown Mount Vernon in the Puget Sound region. It's just next to the Breazeale Padilla Bay Center.

Explore the nearly 1,300 feet of shoreline at Bay View State Park and the surrounding areas. Find your new favorite swimming hole on Padilla Bay, tool around on your boat, bird watch, toss some horseshoes, and don't miss out on the fishing.

Wenatchee River

The Wenatchee River originates from Lake Wenatchee in the Wenatchee National Forest, in eastern Washington. The river flows for 53 miles emptying into the Columbia River after flowing through Leavenworth, Plain, Cashmere, and Peshastin, ending north of Wenatchee.

Tributaries from the river have helped irrigate area orchards and vineyards for many years. Two Leavenworth parks, Waterfront Park and Enchantment Park, provide ideal locations to enjoy this scenic river. Swimming, fishing, rafting, kayaking and tubing are fun ways to spend the afternoon along the river.

Beacon Rock State Park

Set north of the Columbia River, Beacon Rock State Park encompasses 5,100 acres within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area of southern Washington. Found in the Washington Cascades near Washougal and Vancouver, the park is named after the 848-foot monolith named – you guessed it – Beacon Rock.

A stop on the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Beacon Rock State Park features 10,000 feet of shoreline and 10 miles of hiking trails – leading to the top of Hamilton Mountain and Beacon Rock. Set on State Route 14, the park is open throughout the year from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Deception Pass State Park

Washington’s most visited park, the 4,134-acre Deception Pass State Park is located near Oak Harbor in northwestern Washington’s Puget Sound region. Established in 1923, the park is open year-round – 6:30 a.m. to dusk during the summer and 8 a.m. to dusk come winter.

Drawing over two million annual visitors, the park separates Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island while connecting Skagit Bay to Strait of Juan de Fuca. Deception Pass State Park visitors enjoy fishing, wildlife viewing, and beaches.

Discovery Park

Discovery Park is a beautiful park on the coast of Seattle, overlooking Puget Sound. Discovery Park is the largest park in the Seattle area with 534-acres of land. The park features sea cliffs, two miles of protected tidal beaches, sand dunes and meadows, on the site of the former Fort Lawton.

Visitors to the park enjoy the incredible views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, from the Magnolia Bluff. Bring the whole family to the park for quality time together, outdoors.

Eastside Park

Spanning over 76 acres, Eastside Park is located in the Washington Cascades community of Omak. Owned and operated by the City of Omak, the park’s facilities lend themselves to a wealth of activities, including basketball, tennis, baseball, and skateboarding.

Visitors in for a long haul can kick their feet up in the full-service RV Park, while families traveling with children will find a playground complete with a merry-go-round. As the days grow warmer, the Omak Municipal Pool gives visitors to the park a chance to cool off before the Omak Stampede Arena hosts the summer’s big show. Nestled against the Okanogan River, the arena’s stands fill for the World Famous Suicide Race – a tradition dating back to the 1930s.

Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve

Just south of Oak Harbor in Washington’s Puget Sound region, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve houses nearly 20,000 acres of northwestern historic landscape. Visitors can explore the wealth of outdoor scenery, including sites like Penn Cove, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and more

Northwest exploration and settlement areas are plentiful as well, with relatively untouched farms and cultivation sites used by settlers and Native Americans abounds. Further history and scenery can be experienced at Fort Casey and Fort Ebey State Parks.

Esther Short Park

The oldest public park in Washington, Esther Short Park is definite must-see on your next trip into Vancouver in southwest Washington. Established in 1853, Esther Short Park doubles as the town square in downtown Vancouver. Check out the bell tower, rose garden, and the historic Slocum House. Esther Short Park was named for an early Vancouver resident. The park was dedicated in 1922, after the Pioneer Mother statue was sculpted by Avard Fairbanks to commemorate the life of Esther Short.

Esther Short park has played host to a number of different concerts and performances, and won the Development of Excellence award from the Urban Land Institute of Oregon & Southwest Washington. In 2013, it was voted by the American Planning Association as one of the "10 great public spaces."

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park

Stretching over 7,470 acres, the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is located near Ellensburg, in the Washington Cascades region. A premier destination for outdoor fun in Washington, Ginkgo Petrified Forest is also known as the Wanapum Recreation Area. It was designated as a state park in 1965.

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park yields easy access to Lake Wanapum, making any visit rich in aquatic adventures. Fishing, boating, and swimming are ideal activities. You'll find three miles of hiking trails at Ginkgo, and the Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center yields stunning views of the Columbia River.

Iron Horse State Park

Comprised of over 1,600 acres, Iron Horse State Park is set near Cle Elum in the beautiful Seattle area. Bring along your hiking shoes to trek along one of the park's 110 miles of trails.

Mountain bikers and horseback riders also love to get out on the trails – as this "rail trail" park was once a railway easement and converted into multi-use paths. The wooded paths meander along the lakes and waterfalls and through the old Snoqualmie Tunnel.

Kopachuck State Park

Discover the Kopachuck State Park on your next visit to Gig Harbor in the Seattle Metro Area. One of the top state parks in the Seattle metro area, Kopachuck State Park is just west of downtown Gig Harbor along the Carr Inlet of the Puget Sound. At 109 acres, Kopachuck State Park is a sterling example of marine parks in Washington – check out nearly 5,600 feet of shoreline.

As you plan out your adventure in Kopachuck State Park, you'll want to explore its depths. There are two miles of hiking trails at Kopachuck, beach activities, bird watching chances, and so much more. On the water at Kopachuck, launch your boat and tool around, try some clamming or crabbing, and there's plenty of room to fish and swim.

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

Encompassing over 60,000 acres of the Washington Cascades, the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area preserves the stunning northwestern scenery just north of Wenatchee and Leavenworth. With landmarks within the park like Skagit River, Lake Chelan, Gorge, Diablo, and Ross Reservoirs, boating, kayaking, and other aquatic activities are plentiful.

The park also houses over 400 miles of scenic trails, winding through the mountains, valleys, glaciers, and lakeshores. Other must-sees include several informative visitor centers, the Environmental Education Center, and a visit to the lakeside village of Stehekin found within the park.

Lake Easton State Park

Make the most of your next visit to the Washington Cascades and check out Lake Easton State Park. With 516 sprawling acres at the foothills of the Cascade Mountain, Lake Easton State Park is open year round and features nearly 24,000 feet shoreline at the actual Lake Easton. It's fed by the Kachess River.

From nearby Cle Elum and Ellensburg, take I-90 less than 15 miles to find Lake Easton State Park. If you visit during the winter, be sure to check out Hyak Sno Park, one of the top skiing destinations in the state, and a highlight at Lake Easton.

You'll find six miles of cycling trails at Lake Easton State Park, and six and a half miles of hiking trails. There's a boat ramp, and for those who like to toss, there are two horseshoe pits.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area

Located in eastern Washington near the Spokane Indian Reservation, the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area preserves Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake and the landscape surrounding it. The recreation area encompasses over 100,000 acres in total, as well as the 130-mile lake – giving way to an abundance of outdoor adventure.

The recreation area is just short drive west of Spokane, in-between the Grand Coulee Dam and Northport. Within the park area, apart from the plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities, visitors can explore historic structures like Fort Spokane and St. Paul’s Mission.

Lewis & Clark Trail State Park

Venture out and explore the lush landscapes of eastern Washington. Check out Lewis & Clark Trail State Park on your next visit to Dayton. Ideal for explorers, nature lovers, and hiking enthusiasts, Lewis & Clark Trail State Park is 37 pristine and wonderfully wooded acres. Discover more then 1,300 feet of fresh water shoreline at the Touchet River, a wonderful and popular attraction within Lewis & Clark Trail State Park – cast out and try some fishing, or discover a new swimming hole. Trek more than two miles of excellent hiking trails, perfect for any spring or summer visit.

Plan a winter excursion around Lewis & Clark Trail State Park and find an abundance of snow fun – cross-country skiing is popular, as is snowshoeing. There are designated area for cook-outs, badminton nets, a volley ball area, and an amphitheater.

Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Just outside of Mount Vernon, nestled along the eastern ridge of the Padilla Bay, you'll find the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Travel along Bayview Edison Road, just north of Josh Wilson Road and you're there. The Padilla Bay is a delta on the Sakgit River, which is fed from the Salish Sea.

The Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of the biggest and most important estuaries along the Puget Sound. Reserved exclusively for research and educational purposes, the PBNERR features 8,004 acres, and is home to the Breazeale Interpretive Center.

Pietrzycki City Park

Plan a visit to eastern Washington and head for the city of Dayton. Found between Walla Walla and Clarkston, Dayton is a charming and visually appealing city, home to the Pietrzycki City Park. The Pacific Northwest is known for its coastal weather, and a visit to Dayton during the spring or summer is ideal – visit Pietrzycki City Park for a leisurely afternoon picnic.

Named for Dr. Marcel M. Pietrzycki, an 1880 Dayton settler, the park is found just behind Dayton Middle School along the banks of the Touchet River. Explore the park on your next visit and enjoy pleasant spring or summer temperatures. Dayton is also home to the Lewis & Clark Trail State Park.

Potholes State Park

Encompassing 640 acres in eastern Washington, Potholes State Park is located on the shores of Potholes Reservoir – boasting of 6,000 feet of shoreline. Visitors to the reservoir will see the area's several small lakes, known as "potholes," and averaging 10 to 30 feet deep.

Potholes State Park features three miles of hiking trails, and plenty of nature-heavy activities like bird watching, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Water lovers can bring up the boat and water skis, or drop in kayaks and canoes for a day on the Potholes Reservoir.

Rainbow Falls State Park

Spanning 139 acres, Rainbow Falls State Park yields a 3,400-foot freshwater shoreline along the Chehalis River near the city of Chehalis. The park and its historic log buildings were built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

This Chehalis Valley park features a beautiful water fall, one of the last standing old-growth forests and small fuchsia garden. Bring along your hiking shoes for a nice hike on some of the park's 10 miles of hiking trails through southwestern Washington.

Riverfront Park

Covering 100 acres, the public Riverfront Park is set in downtown Spokane along the Spokane River in eastern Washington. Featuring the iconic Great Northern Railroad Depot Clocktower, the park also includes the upper Spokane Falls and Pavilion – both reached by the Spokane River Centennial Trail.

The site of the World's Fair Expo '74 event, Riverfront Park also hosts annual, Spokane events like Lilac Bloomsday Run and Spokane Hoopfest. Kids enjoy the Riverfront Park Carousel, IMAX Theatre, and onsite skating rink, skyride, and amusement park.

Tacoma Narrows Park

Visit Tacoma Narrows Park on your next trip to the Seattle metro area. You'll find the Tacoma Narrows Park just south of Gig Harbor along Doc's Drive near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Open daily, the Tacoma Narrows Park, also known to locals as Narrows Park, is 35 acres of pristine park land, popular for dog walks, boating, and fishing.

Known as an "off-the-beaten-path" park, Narrows Park is yields stunning views of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, one of the largest suspension bridges in the state. As you plan your visit to Narrows Park, enjoy a picnic with the family at the designated picnic areas, or relax at the gazebo overlook of the Puget Sound.

Tolmie State Park

Spanning 105 acres, Tolmie State Park is located north of Lacey on some of the southernmost shores of the Puget Sound. Visitors to the park enjoy 1,800 feet of saltwater shoreline connected to Nisqually Beach, which is lent to a variety of activities.

Thanks to an underwater park, complete with an artificial reef, SCUBA diving is a popular pastime at Tolmie State Park. Still, the park is primed for a variety of other adventures, from a splash in the Big Slough to an exploration through the park’s lush, green, wooded foliage.

Tumwater Falls Park

Plan on exploring the lush greenery on your next visit to the Washington coast. Add a trip to Tumwater Falls Park to the agenda. Tumwater is a quaint city just south of Olympia, and you'll find Tumwater Falls Park east of I-5 on the shores of the Tumwater Falls Dam. It's very close to where the Senator P.H. Carlyon Bridge crosses the Deschutes River.

One of the most popular and well-traveled parts of the Tumwater Historic District, Tumwater Falls Park is 15 acres of excellent outdoor fun. Be sure to check out the many hiking and walking trails at Tumwater Falls Park. History buffs and, generally, those interested in a bit of nostalgia, often head for The Schmidt House, a historic landmark and former home of Leopold F. Schmidt, the founder of the Olympia Brewing Company.