From petrified forests and Ice Age waterfalls to the formidable Mount Saint Helens, the Evergreen State has certainly earned its nickname. Culture Trip’s local insiders share their favorite state parks to witness the natural splendors of Washington.
Follow the roar of motorboats to Whidbey Island, where you’ll find Washington’s most popular park, Deception Pass State Park. This 4,134-acre (1,673ha) marine and camping site offers stunning sunsets, tucked-away coves and towering cliffs. Enjoy a peaceful trek through the Pacific Northwest forests, go kayaking or canopy climbing, or simply relax on the shores and watch the whales. Don’t miss an opportunity to cross Deception Pass Bridge on foot to visit the forest-rich Kukutali Preserve. Recommended by local insider Grace Coleman
With miles of pristine hiking trails and stunning coastal views, this popular state park is anything but disappointing. A 3hr drive from Seattle, you’ll find two functioning lighthouses, cabins for camping and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, where you can learn about the area’s rich maritime history. During the summer months, the beaches come alive with free nightly concerts. Hike to the North Head Lighthouse to watch the sunset. Recommended by local insider Grace Coleman
This ancient volcano-turned-geological preserve named by Lewis and Clark is now a 4,458-acre (1,804ha) state park offering year-round camping and unparalleled views of the Columbia River Gorge. Here, you can enjoy more than 26mi (42km) of hiking, biking and horseback-riding trails, as well as rock climbing and boating. Don’t be intimidated by the switchback trail that takes you up the 848ft (258m) Beacon Rock; it has majestic views of the surrounding area. Recommended by local insider Eric Coleman
Fort Casey Historical State Park holds centuries of history along the beautiful coast of Puget Sound. This 19th-century fort is worth a visit for families and history lovers, as you’ll find an early-20th-century lighthouse, labyrinthine underground bunkers and walking trails that provide sprawling views of both Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Soak up some history or the sun’s rays while enjoying a picnic in the park or strolling the beach. Recommended by local insider Eric Coleman
Want to experience Washington’s most remote natural wonder? Palouse Falls State Park is the perfect place to turn off your phone and recharge in nature. Come here to witness the state’s most beautiful 200ft (61m) waterfall and hike the scenic trails. You’ll find informative plaques throughout the park explaining how Ice Age floods formed this unbelievable landscape. You can also camp here, but camping spots are first come, first served. Recommended by local insider Eric Coleman