national parks in Washington

The 3 Best National Parks in Washington + Visiting Guide

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(Last updated on: 06/08/2022)

The best national parks in Washington- Of course it’s America’s iconic state capital, but what are the best national parks that lie within it? Be prepared to discover the true beauty within Washington’s natural scene. Keep reading to find out more…

What is a national park?

What exactly is a national park? A national park is a site of beauty, as well as being of historic and cultural significance. They usually boast stunning landscapes and have unique features that set them apart from the ordinary. A national park aims to preserve its grounds and benefit from them as well as caring for the natural environment. The ‘National park service‘ manages 423 national parks across America, in aims of conserving the ‘natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations’.

Why visit the national parks on the East Coast?

national parks in Washington

Why visit the national parks in Washington? To put it simply, the national parks in Washington house some of the most incredible national parks that cannot be found in other parts of America. If you adore all things beautiful, Washington may be your go-to for national parks, as it’s known for its beautiful landscapes, intriguing wildlife and unique features.

How many national parks in Washington are there?

Washington houses 3 incredible national parks. This consists of Mount Rainier, Olympic park and North Cascades. Their size, complexity and beauty is sure to stun you! Olympic park comes 7th biggest in the US for scale, just after the Grand Canyon in Arizona!

The best accommodation when visiting the national parks on the East Coast?

What is the best accommodation in Washington when visiting the national parks? Keep reading to find the most convenient, best value for money and beautiful accommodations on the East Coast.

Mt baker hotel

Mt baker is located just a 40 minute drive from North cascades, as well as being great value for money! Mt baker has an array of great facilities, with spacious bedrooms, AC, and it’s even equipped with a fridge and coffee machine in every room! It’s perfect for coming back to after a long day of exploring, as well as being set in a picturesque area of Washington, next to Lake Shannon. Click here to find out more.

Nisqually Lodge

Nisqually lodge is only 5 miles away from Mt Rainer national park! This hotel didn’t gain its 5 stars for nothing! Aside from its location, it boasts exceptional interiors with dreamy aesthetics, just the kind of hotel you’ve been waiting to stay in! The most highly rated part of the lodge is the comfy beds, perfect for relaxing in and enjoying a great nights sleep after a long day! And what’s better than a delicious breakfast to start the day off right ? Nisqually lodge provides all of these things and more! Click here to find out more.

Hall Creek Cabin

Hall Creek Cabin is just 7 miles from Mt Rainer national park, just enough to catch it in the distance! With a true woodland vibe, this Cabin is tucked away in Packwood, with beautiful woodland and mountain views. Enjoy the hot tub for an evening of relaxation after exploring Mount Rainer, as well as BBQ facilities for a mouth watering meal. Snuggle up in the Cabins comfy beds and you’re good to go for another day of fun! Click here to find out more.

Cowlitz river Lodge

Cowlitz river lodge is perfect for visiting Mount Rainer, which is just a 30 minute drive away. This charming lodge boasts a beautiful interior with an amazing view of Mount Rainer from the window. The river lodge also has great services including free Wi-Fi, a fridge, microwave and coffee machine in each room. Click here to find out more.

Essential packing list when visiting the national parks on the East Coast

national parks in Washington

You know the basics, but what is essential for a packing list when visiting the national parks in Washington? Keep reading as I cover everything you need to know, to make packing that little bit easier.

Mini first aid kit

It’s always best to keep a mini first aid kit on you at all times, in case of a little injury whilst on a hike. Stay safe, whether it be a mountain trek or a flat walk.

Camera

The sites you’re going to get are worth capturing! A camera embodies the quality of the moment, rather than finding a blurry photo on your phone. Here is the camera that I always use for capturing the beauty of the moment.

Hiking backpack

A hiking backpack is a good option for visiting the national parks in Washington! This backpack is equipped to hold everything you need for a hike, as well as folding up to pack in your suitcase for efficient packing!

Sun cream

Sun cream is essential for a day of exploring the national park grounds because of the high temperature and exposure. Apply generously and enjoy your skin being radiant in the sun, instead of burnt! Here is a personal favourite for sunny days.

Raincoat

A raincoat is important to have, just in case of downpours. Here you can find a convenient one for packing, which folds away into a pouch so it takes up less space in the case!

The best national parks on the East Coast

What is it about the 3 national parks in Washington that makes them the best? The views? The wildlife? The hikes? Keep reading to find out more about these exceptional national parks.

Olympic Park

national parks in Washington

Olympic park is one of the best national parks in Washington for a reason! It hosts a diverse array of areas to discover, from beaches, to rainforests and even a deer park! One beautiful example of a temperate rainforest in Olympic park is the Hoh rainforest. This site is spectacular, boasting a unique and fairy-tale-like scene that seems to twist and wind in amazing ways. Here you can explore two different ‘loop trails’ including the ‘The Hall of Mosses‘, which takes you round the old growth forest and around the maple trees, or the ‘Spruce Nature trail‘ that guides you through both new and old areas of Taft creek and Hoh river.

There are also a range of beautiful beaches within Olympic national park too! Rialto Beach is a stunning rocky beach, with drift logs and huge waves. Just behind the beach is the Mora area, which is hard to spot from the amazing heights of the trees. You can enjoy exploring both within their short distance of each other.

If this wasn’t enough, what makes Olympic park one of the best national parks in Washington is the amount of activities on offer. You can go tide pooling on the rocky shores and discover so much beautiful sea life, or go boating across the rivers and lakes to capture stunning views of the surrounding area. There are night sky programmes to gaze upon the stars as well as wildlife viewing areas to catch a glimpse of goats, bears, whales and more. With so much in store, you’re sure to have a trip to remember forever.

Mount Rainer

national parks in Washington

Mount Rainer is the stunning and iconic landscape that embodies Washington’s image, elevating 14,410 feet above sea level. It holds its own unique climate, meaning it can be cool and rainy in summer months. Mount Rainer is a vast site, covering 235,625 acres, so there is so much choice in where to explore!

One area is called the ‘White river‘, where you can find the ‘historical patrol cabin’ which tell the tales of park protection and mountain systems, it’s a great stop off as well as a brilliant insight into Mount Rainer. Another good one for exploring is Box canyon, where you can take a short trail to the bridge where peering over 180 feet you can view the Muddy fork of the Cowlitz river, and if you keep walking you can find smooth polished rocks along the path, sculpted by glaciers. But out of all, one of the best views in Mount Rainer is the Reflection Lakes, which perfectly reflect the landscape in the water, so it looks like you’re seeing double.

North Cascades

national parks in Washington

North Cascades is one of those national parks in Washington that you’ll never forget. It’s a beautiful site and is by far one of the best national parks in Washington for hikes. There are a range of day hikes to embark on, one of the best being ‘The thunder creek trail‘. You will start within the depth of the ancient forests, and follow into the centre of the park where you can walk along the glacier creeks from the lower areas to the high hills of Park creek pass. This is a great place to stop and take in the breath-taking views of the meadows and mountains.

There is so much opportunity for boating at North Cascades: you can canoe or kayak along the lakes, and even hire a water taxi service in Ross Lake. Feel the beauty of the landscape surround you, and become immersed in the natural scene. So if you’re going to visit one of the national parks in Washington, why not North Cascades!

National Parks in Washington- further reading

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