First time travelers to Washington State are always amazed of its natural beauty that is so often missed while visiting Seattle. Quite frankly, Seattle is one of a select few cities in America that is blessed with the best that nature has to offer. Despite the fact that it rains 50 percent of the time, the city possesses a mild climate for the majority of the year. Most individuals would be happy to exchange a little humidity and extreme temperatures for a few rain showers.
Many of these national parks are within an easy driving distance from Seattle, Washington. If you enjoy nature, all of these parks have a lot to offer. For those who are truly adventurous and have time to spare could try exploring all of them.
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
A site that most visitors often overlook is the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, more of a monument rather than a park. It was established to aid in research, education, as well as recreation. Inside of the 110,000-acre National Volcanic Monument, the natural environment is left to its own eco-system for recovery from the tragedy. The very last time that Mount. St. Helens erupted was back in 2008. Starting in the first part of July through Labor Day, Rangers at the Windy Ridge Interpretive Site invite visitors to gain an understanding with informative stories of devastation and survival. Ranger-guided tours are also offered at the Ape Cave Interpretive Site.
Mount Rainier National Park
One of the most visited national parks in the northwest is Mount Rainier National Park, less than a 3-hour drive from Seattle. Mount Rainier is home to an inactive volcano within the park that was first established in 1899. Nearly 2 million people visit the park annually. The area features numerous outdoors activities such as camping, hiking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, nature walks, and fishing. The most popular destination by visitors when visiting the park is Paradise close to the sub-alpine valley of the Paradise River. It is the site of the historic Paradise Inn built in 1916 and the Paradise Guide House built in 1920. One thing to keep in mind is to try taking your time as you explore the park. Too many beautiful sights can be overlooked if you are trying to see and do everything in one day.
North Cascades National Park
Situated approximately two hours outside of Seattle, Washington, is the North Cascades National Park. The mountain range is breathtaking, featuring rugged peaks and displaying a beauty of its own that it is often referred to as the North American Alps. A variety of activities are available inside the park which include camping, hiking, mountain climbing, bicycling, horseback riding, rafting, and fishing.
Among the most popular destinations within the park is the Cascade Pass, which had been used as a travel route by Native Americans. The pass can only be reached by a 4-mile trail along the end of a gravel road. The North and South Picket Ranges as well as Eldorado Peak are widely used by backpackers and mountain climbers.
In the northwestern corner of the park lies Mount Shuksan undoubtedly one of the most photographed peaks in North America. For most visitors, just simply enjoying the breathtaking vistas would certainly be enough without the need for additional activities offered by the park.
To experience the absolute best that nature has to offer is an incredible feeling that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. The next time you visit the Seattle area, take some time out to explore one of these national parks.