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Some of my favorite pacific northwest destinations

Having lived all my life in the pacific northwest, I've spent many weekends away from home and have found numerous fantastic locations I return to again and again whether for photographs or simply the joy of being there. These are some of my favorites. If you're a new resident of the northwest or are just visiting, and love nature and the outdoors as much as I, I hope you'll get a chance to visit some of them.

 

Quinault Rain Forest

The Quinault Rain Forest is located in Olympic National Park on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Mild temperatures, summer fog, rainfall averaging twelve to fourteen feet yearly and a long growing season help make this forest one of the most fertile in the world. The loop road up the Quinault Valley and around Quinault Lake allows visitors an interesting  view of the temperate rain forest and surroundings from their vehicle. Extensions of the loop road above the bridge on both sides of the river allow access to campgrounds and provide continued exploration, and several trailheads allow hikers to venture deeper into the forest. Plant and animal life is abundant and I have yet to go there and not see elk, deer, otter and osprey, though many other birds and animals live there and are frequently seen.

For more information about the Quinault and other Washington rain forests click The Rain Forest.

Olympic National Park

In Olympic National Park in Washington State you'll find beautiful glacier capped mountains, the largest array of wilderness ocean beaches in the lower 48 states, wonderful old growth forests including the temperate rain forests, hot springs, and breathtaking vistas and alpine meadows at Hurricane Ridge visitor center. In the park you'll find over 600 miles of forest, mountain and ocean beach trails with something for everyone from the day hiker to the serious back country adventurer, and eight plant and fifteen animal species that exist nowhere else.

For more information about Olympic National Park click Olympic National Park.

Mt. Rainier National Park

Set aside in 1899, Mount Rainier National Park is truly a jewel of the pacific northwest. At 14,410', Mt. Rainier is the centerpiece of the park, but many other wonders await it's visitors as well. Hiking and climbing are but two of the many things to do while there. Hikers will find everything from the day hike to the 93 mile Wonderland Trail which circles the mountain. Every year thousands of people from all over the world attempt to climb Rainier, and those hardy and lucky enough to reach the summit marvel at the wondrous views and sense of accomplishment they receive.

For more information about Mt. Rainier National Park click Mt. Rainier recreation and activities.

Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

At 8:32 Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted and in several hours transformed it and it's surrounding area forever and reduced some 230 square miles of forest to dead wasteland. From the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center you'll look into the heart of the crater at the ever growing lava dome, and see for yourself what awesome power nature unleashed that morning.

For more information about Mt. St. Helens click Planning your visit to Mt. St. Helens.


Mt. Hood

The Mt. Hood National Forest located in northwestern Oregon encompasses 1.2 million acres, has 4 designated Wilderness Areas, and over 1200 miles of hiking trails. Mt. Hood is the second most climbed mountain in the world, and at 11,235 above sea level is the highest mountain in Oregon and the 4th highest in the string of Cascade Mountain Range volcanoes. It's perfect conical shape and beautiful surroundings make it a wonderful subject for photography and sightseeing.

For more information about Mt. Hood click Mt. Hood National Forest.

Ocean beaches

For those with a love of ocean beaches, the coasts of Washington and Oregon will surely delight. From rugged and pristine beaches of Washington's north coast to flat sandy beaches in the south, and from the bustling Oregon tourist destinations of Seaside and Cannon Beach in the north to agate covered beaches in the south, there is surely something for everyone.

For more information about Washington beaches click Washington's coast.

For more information about Oregon beaches click Oregon's north coast or Oregon's south coast.

San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands group, located in the northwest corner of Washington State is comprised of 743 islands at low tide and 428 at high tide. Of these, 60 islands are inhabited. The largest four, Lopez, Shaw, Orcas, and San Juan, are served by Washington State Ferries, and the ride from Anacortes alone is a wondrous adventure that I never fail to enjoy. There you'll find beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, breathtaking scenery and wonderful local art. Scattered throughout the islands are camping areas and parks accessible only by boat, making them wonderful places for solitary nature outings, or others that are accessible by car. Truly something for everyone. View Orca pods and the lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point on San Juan Island, or simply wander and explore the various beaches and vistas on any of them.

For more information about the San Juan Islands group click San Juan County parks.

Northwest Trek

Northwest Trek is home to more than 200 North American animals. This 615-acre park has lakes, trails, meadows and plenty of viewing opportunities. See bighorn sheep, deer, Roosevelt elk, woodland caribou, mountain goats, bison and more up close from trams in the free-roaming area or walk forested pathways to view grizzlies, black bears, wolves, bobcats, lynx, cougars, owls, eagles and wetland animals in natural exhibits. Five miles of nature trails await exploration and the Cheney Discovery Center offers exciting hands-on experiences.

For more information about Northwest Trek click Northwest Trek.

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