Washington has been dubbed the Evergreen State for a reason. Visitors will experience the wonder of its national, state, and local parks in vibrant colors and diverse landscapes year-round. From snow-capped mountains to Puget Sound islands, there are abundant natural parks to visit across the state. Park activities in Washington are as diverse as the parks themselves. If your schedule only allows for one park visit in Washington, make it Mount Rainier National Park.
1.Battle Ground Lake State Park
For a fun, quick, respite from the hustle and bustle of being over worked and overloaded with a hectic home life, Battle Ground Lake State Park, is the perfect place to escape to the wilderness. It is great for camping, swimming and fishing, it’s located in the Cascade Mountain foothills, with close proximity to Portland and Vancouver. The Lake also boasts shallow water swim areas for the younger, inexperienced children. It’s also stocked with trout, making it a favorite spot for anglers. The park, which features 275 acres for biking, hiking and horse trails, also has an area for equestrian camping.
18002 Northeast 249th Street, Battle Ground, WA, Phone: 360-687-4621
2.Cape Disappointment State Park
Cape Disappointment State Park is far from being a “disappointment”. The Columbia River and Pacific Ocean waves collide with one another with a crash. The Cape was named after Captain John Meares. It is rich with Northwest history, like how to defend a Fort from war ships and how to stage a war from a cliff. The Cape also features a center for interactive exhibits. The 2,023-acre Cape has freshwater lakes, saltwater marshes and ocean tidelands. There are places to catch crab and salmon, and even a special spot for clam-digging. The multi-faceted history of Cape Disappointment will have you longing to return.
244 Robert Gray Drive, Ilwaco, WA, Phone: 888-226-7688
3.Conconully State Park
Located in north central Washington, Conconully State Park features a 5,400-foot freshwater shoreline and a 97-acre park making it the ideal place for campers and anglers alike. The park has two lakes – Lower Conconully Reservoir where the park resides and Upper Conconully Reservoir also known as Salmon Lake. The latter is a popular spot for fishing where rainbow trout, Kokanee, and smallmouth bass are abundant. Other summer activities include swimming, waterskiing, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing. While the park facilities are closed during the winter, there are still plenty of outdoor activities including dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
119 Broadway Street, Conconully, WA, Phone: 509-826-7408
4.Curlew Lake State Park
Known as the “Jewel” of Washington’s State Parks, Curlew Lake State Park is located just 25 miles from the Canadian border with an 87-acre camping area. Boasting 5.5 miles of shoreline, Curlew Lake is popular for swimming, fishing, waterskiing, boating, and other personal watercrafts like jet skis. Birdwatching, wildlife viewing, hiking and biking are also common activities here. Located just 8 miles away from the lake is the famous Stone Rose site located in the charming town of Republic. This fossil digging site is open to the public making it a favorite stop for archeology enthusiasts and children alike.
62 State Park Road, Republic, WA, Phone: 509-775-3592
5.Grayland Beach State Park
Featuring 581 acres including 7,400 feet of ocean frontage, Grayland Beach State Park offers year-round camping for RVs as well as their onsite yurts. With wide sandy beaches sunbathing, beach walking, and sand castling are favorite past times here as well as swimming, surfing, fishing, clamming, and crabbing. A recreational license is mandatory for shellfish harvesting and saltwater fishing. There are also several trails that begin at the beach circle the campground and lead through grassy dunes and shore pines making it an ideal destination for bird and other wildlife viewing. The beach is also a popular destination for kite-flying enthusiasts.
925 Cranberry Beach Road, Grayland, WA, Phone: 360-267-4301
6.Ike Kinswa State Park
Just a few minutes east of the 5 Freeway, surrounded by farmland and rolling hills, Ike Kinswa State Park is situated on beautiful Mayfield Lake. Featuring 421 acres and more than 46,000 feet of peaceful freshwater shoreline along its northside, the park is popular for swimming, boating, and a variety of watersports including paddle boarding and kayaking. Camping options include serene forested tents, RV sites, and lakefront cabins. Fishing is one of their primary activities with anglers out hoping to catch the wealth of largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and tiger muskie that call these waters home. Other popular activities include hiking along the many trails as well as bird and wildlife viewing.
873 WA-122 Silver Creek, WA, Phone: 360-983-3402
7.Illahee State Park
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With over 86-acres, Illahee State Park has become one of the top spots for geocaching enthusiast’s and metal detecting. Nestled between Bremerton and Bainbridge Island, Illahee boasts a 1,785-foot-long saltwater shoreline along Port Orchard bay. Visitors can access the park via land or water via a watercraft launch and a dock. Crabbing, fishing and shellfish harvesting are extremely superb here and during the summer months, the warm lake water is the perfect invitation for water skiers, paddlers, divers and swimmers. For the landlubbers, the park offers horseshoe pits, volleyball courts and a softball field as well as two large naval guns honoring the parks founder, Earl Henry Harkins.
3540 Northeast Sylvan Way, Bremerton, WA, Phone: 360-478-6460
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8.Lake Sammamish State Park
With two lakefront beaches, surrounded by trails weaving through transitory forests and wetlands, Lake Sammamish is as unique as its name. Located just outside Seattle, guests will be able to escape the bustle of the city without spending hours in the car. The park offers a wealth of outdoor activities on water and on land such as swimming, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and waterskiing as well as biking and hiking along 1.5 miles of trails. For those who don’t have their own equipment, rentals are available at Tibbetts Beach. There are also two baseball/softball fields, sanded volleyball courts, a playground, and several opportunities for bird and wildlife viewing.
2000 Northwest Sammamish Road, Issaquah, WA, Phone: 425-649-4275
9.Lake Wenatchee State Park
Famous for its wildlife, camping at Lake Wenatchee State Park is like sleeping at a safari park as lions, tigers, and bears are ever present here. Considered an icon in the Northwest, Lake Wenatchee State Park offers 492 acres for year-round camping with over 12,500 feet of beautiful glacier-fed waterfront on Wenatchee River and Wenatchee Lake. These crystal-clear waters are surrounded by peaked mountains, an ideal setting for boaters, standup paddlers, kayakers, and windsurfers. Rentals are available for those who don’t have their own equipment. There are also miles of trails for biking, hiking and horseback riding during the summer months and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter.
21588 WA-207, Leavenworth, WA, Phone: 509-763-3101
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10.Millersylvania State Park
Nestled between Centralia and Olympia, Millersyvania State Park is a popular “Glamping” destination and RV camping site. Several of the park’s buildings including the kitchen shelters were constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, showcasing the beautiful artisan craftsmanship of that era. This 903-acre camping park boasts 3,300 feet of gorgeous freshwater shoreline including two swimming beaches offering a variety of non-motorized watercraft sports. This includes pedal boats, kayaks, and paddleboards, for those who don’t have their own, rentals are available on the grounds. There are also 7.6 miles of bicycle trails, 8.6 miles of hiking trails, horseshoe pits, and amphitheater, and fire circles.
12245 Tilley Road Southwest, Olympia, WA, Phone: 360-753-1519
11.Rasar State Park
Rasar State Park, is a quaint and quiet, an ideal place to sit and relax and get in touch with nature. Nestled along the Skagit River, this is a popular destination for anglers. Surrounded by grassy fields and lush forests, the campgrounds offer an idyllic setting whether guests choose to camp in a tent or rent a cozy cabin. There are 3.7 miles of hiking trails as well as a 1-mile ADA accessible trail, both are perfect for birdwatching and wildlife viewing. From Memorial Day to Labor Day the park offers a variety of interpretive programs including Junior Ranger activities on the weekends.
38730 Cape Horn Road, Concrete, WA, Phone: 360-826-3942
12.Steamboat Rock State Park
Sculpted by Ice Age floods, Steamboat Rock State Park features an astounding landscape stretching across 600 acres and rising 800 feet from the ground. This lake-speckled canyon known as “scabland,” the park looks barren, but it’s actually packed with sagebrush, spring flowers, and wildlife. A not-so-desert-wasteland there are both rocks for climbing and verdant sprawling green lawns interspersed with 10 miles of horse trails, and 26.2 miles of hiking and biking trails. Additional land activities include a basketball court, sand volleyball court, and a playground. Water activities include swimming, boating, fishing, waterskiing, and other watersport activities. In the winter, ice climbing, ice fishing, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing are popular activities.
51052 WA-155, Electric City, WA, Phone: 509-633-1304
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Located on Whidbey Island, Ebey’s Landing is a historic site that was used during WWII for coastal. Named after one of its first settlers, Colonel Isaac N Ebey, the park steeped in rich military history including underground exploratory rooms so visitors should make sure to bring flashlights and headlamps. Featuring over 651 acres there are over 25 miles of biking and hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of Point Wilson Lighthouse as they pass by rows of towering of Douglas-fir trees. Popular activities include surfing, paragliding, and exploring the former military base. Visitors are also allowed to harvest seaweed during certain times of the year.
Ebey’s Landing Road, Coupeville, WA, Phone: 360-678-5434
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Situated on the northern coast of the Columbia River, Fort Vancouver was first established in 1825, by the notorious Hudson’s Bay Company of London. Providing awe-inspiring views of snow-capped mountain peaks contrasting with the vibrant urban landscape of the city, Fort Vancouver features a rich cultural past. Showcasing four unique sites on its grounds it walks visitors through its storied past discovering its conflict, transition, settlement, and community. Guests will take a journey through the compound to learning about its beginning as a fur trading post, its compelling military legacy, the excitement of flight, and the roots of the Pacific Northwest through its structures and reenactments.
1501 East Evergreen Boulevard, Vancouver, Phone: 360-816-6230
15.Klondike Gold Rush - Seattle Unit
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Celebrate the trails, the stories and boomtowns after the discovery of the Klondike Gold Rush which reached its peak from 1897-1898 allowing Seattle to flourish after surviving an economic depression and a disastrous fire. Today, visitors can learn about this thriving time in Seattle’s history through the Klondike Gold Rush Museum located in Pioneer Square. This interpretative museum utilizes a variety of artifacts, exhibits, and reenactments to showcase this rich period of history. There are also three 20-25-minute films for visitors to watch, temporary exhibits featured in the Kerr Room, Ranger-led demonstrations, and a walking tour available of Pioneer Square.
319 Second Avenue South, Seattle, WA, Phone: 206-220-4240
16.Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area
Named after the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area features a 130-mile lake that provides a wealth of activities. This includes boating, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing on the lake as well as camping and hunting on the lands that surround the water. The campgrounds are open to visitors year-round and because of this, hunters are not allowed to hunt within 500 feet of these grounds. The Recreation Area also includes two historic sites for visitors to explore, St. Paul’s Mission and Fort Spokane, the former also features a ¼ mile trail loop with wayside exhibits detailing its history.
1008 Crest Drive, Coulee Dam, Phone: 509-754-7800
17.Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
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With gorgeous coastal views and timeless rainforests, the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park encompasses sites along both the Pacific Coast and the Columbia River. It tells the tales of some of the country’s most famed explorers and highlights the rich heritage of the Native people who first inhabited these beautiful lands. Several educational tours take place at the park led by the park’s rangers who reenact scenes from the past. It is the home to a diverse collection of flora and fauna making wildlife viewing a popular attraction. Kayaking, canoeing, camping, hiking, and biking are also popular activities here.
4583 Jackson Highway, Winlock, WA, Phone: 360-864-2643
18.Hanford B-Reactor Historic Landmark
© NPS Photo
The creation of the atomic bomb was what put an end to WWII, but before its creation is was simply referred to as the “Manhattan Project.” The development of this weapon of war took place at three locations throughout the U.S. – New Mexico, Tennessee, and Washington. The latter was used to create material for the plutonium bomb and was the site of the Trinity test. In order to build this site homeowners and Natives were unlawfully removed from their tribal lands and 51,000 people were employed to work at the Hanford Site. Today, visitors can tour the Hanford B-Reactor National Historic Landmark and its Visitor Center to learn about this pivotal moment in history.
2000 Logston Boulevard, Richland, WA, Phone: 509-376-1647
19.Minidoka Internment National Monument
In February of 1942, President FDR interned over 100,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese by signing an executive order. They were sent to ten isolated areas in the western part of the country. This heinous act stemmed from the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, which took place of December 7th, 1941. Politician’s felt that because the attack was unprovoked anyone who was of Japanese ancestry, could be a spy and needed to be isolated from the west coast. In January 2001, the Minidoka Internment National Monument became an official National Park System, and became a place to pay homage to the brave, innocent, Japanese Americans sent there during WWII.
4192 Eagle Harbor Drive, Bainbridge Island, WA, Phone: 208-825-4169
An active volcano, Mount Rainer is situated 14,400 feet above sea level standing tall as a Washington state icon. Known as the most glaciated crest in the United States it features subalpine wildflower meadows that encircle the ice crystalized volcano and an ancient forest covering its lower slopes. It is also home to five sizable rivers and an abundance of wildlife. Camping, climbing, wilderness hiking, and biking along its trails are the primary activities that take place here during the summer. In the winter, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, camping and hiking are popular. There are a variety of charming cabins available for rent any time of year.
55210 238th Avenue East, Ashford, WA, Phone: 360-569-2177
21.Nez Perce National Historical Park
© NPS Photo
Considered a non-traditional park due to its 38 different sites, Nez Perce National Historical Park is truly unique. This specialness extends to the people of this land, the Nimi Pu Natives who’ve managed to survive the colonization of the United States (although with less than 10% of their original lands), they learned to adapt and remain resilient. For thousands of years they’ve called these lands of prairies, valleys, plateaus, and mountains home and the Park allows visitors to learn their tales of survival. Today, visitors will have to make stops in Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington to see each of these important sites which include the Bear Paw Battlefield and the Big Hole National Battlefield.
Snake River Road, Asotin, WA, Phone: 208-843-7001
Just under three hours away from Seattle, the North Cascades feature a gorgeous alpine landscape that’s waiting to be discovered. Visitors will discover rugged peaks topped by over 300 glaciers, forested valleys, and cascading waters. It’s the perfect destination for backcountry hiking, climbing, hiking, and camping. Boating, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking are also extremely popular on any of the several lakes within the park, but jet skis are not allowed on any of the waterways. This is also an important area for scientists who monitor the over 300 glaciers within the park to get a better understanding of climate change and its effects on this very important ecosystem.
7280 Ranger Station Road, Marblemount, WA, Phone: 360-854-7245
23.Olympic National Park
Featuring an unbelievably wide-range of elevation and precipitation, Olympic National Park is most famous for its diversity. Enveloping almost one million acres, this park protects boundless wilderness, multiple unmistakably different ecosystems, and thousands of generations of human history. It features old growth moderate rain forests, glacier capped mountains, more than 70 rugged miles of coastline, 600 lakes, and over 4,000 miles of streams and rivers to explore. Visitors can enjoy tent or RV camping, lodging at one of their beautiful properties and backpacking all over the park. Popular activities include fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, biking, and hiking as well as coastal cleanups which take place every fall and spring.
3002 Mt Angeles Road, Port Angeles, WA, Phone: 360-565-3130
24.San Juan Island
Known for its gorgeous vistas, quiet woodlands, saltwater coast, and majestic orca whales, San Juan Island National Historic Park is one of the last native prairies in the Northern Straight/Puget Sound area. It offers a plethora of activities including flower picking, blackberry gathering, and shell collecting as well as boating, kayaking, tide pooling, birdwatching and wildlife viewing. The island is also well known for its rich history dating back to 1859 when Great Britain and the US almost went to war over this island and all because of the death of pig. Visitors can watch a reenactment playing out the events of that time and learn how they managed to resolve this dispute without turning to violence.
227 Jackson Street, Port Townsend, WA, Phone: 800-376-4914
25.Whitman Mission National Historic Site
Situated west of Walla Walla, Whitman Mission National Historic Site, is a United States National Historic Site. The site commemorates the lives of Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife Narcissa, and 11 other missionaries and their contributions to establishing the Oregon Trail. They were slain in November of 1847 by members of the Native tribe Cayuse. This was done in retaliation to a measles outbreak that began at the mission and spread to the lands of the Cayuse, killing half of their people. This prompted the Cayuse War and is ultimately what prompted Congress to take Oregon and claim it as a U.S. territory. Today, a memorial obelisk sits on a nearby hill.
328 Whitman Mission Road, Walla Walla, WA, Phone: 509-522-6360
25 Best Washington State & National Parks
- Battle Ground Lake State Park, Photo: kitty45/stock.adobe.com
- Cape Disappointment State Park, Photo: Tom/stock.adobe.com
- Conconully State Park, Photo: tonktiti/stock.adobe.com
- Curlew Lake State Park, Photo: pimonpim/stock.adobe.com
- Grayland Beach State Park, Photo: PKZ/stock.adobe.com
- Ike Kinswa State Park, Photo: tonktiti/stock.adobe.com
- Illahee State Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Sammamish State Park, Photo: Melastmohican/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Wenatchee State Park, Photo: tusharkoley/stock.adobe.com
- Millersylvania State Park, Photo: aga7ta/stock.adobe.com
- Rasar State Park, Photo: smallredgirl/stock.adobe.com
- Steamboat Rock State Park, Photo: amenohi/stock.adobe.com
- Ebey's Landing, Photo: Brenda Pederson/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Vancouver, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Klondike Gold Rush - Seattle Unit, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Photo: sdbower/stock.adobe.com
- Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Hanford B-Reactor Historic Landmark, Photo: NPS Photo
- Minidoka Internment National Monument, Photo: Eventimages21/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Rainier, Photo: Nilanjan/stock.adobe.com
- Nez Perce National Historical Park, Photo: NPS Photo
- North Cascades, Photo: amadeustx/stock.adobe.com
- Olympic National Park, Photo: Maks_Ershov/stock.adobe.com
- San Juan Island, Photo: Cliff/stock.adobe.com
- Whitman Mission National Historic Site, Photo: Tracy/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Nigel/stock.adobe.com