The Best Outdoor Pursuits in Washington State
Sea Kayaking in the San Juan Islands: Emerald islands, clear water, orca whales, bald eagles, and remote campsites that are only reached by boat lure sea kayakers to the San Juan Islands. Paddle the islands on your own (if you're experienced) or go out with a guide for a few hours or a few days.
Hiking the Olympic Coast: Within the contiguous U.S., very few miles of wilderness coastline are left. Among the longest, and most spectacular, are those of Olympic National Park on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. Whether you want to do a good daylong hike, or several days of backpacking along the beach, you've got several options along this coast.
Cross-Country Skiing in the Methow Valley: This valley on the east side of Washington's North Cascades has more than 100 miles of immaculately groomed trails, making it one of the premier cross-country ski destinations in the country. Ski from one lodge to the next down the valley, or use one of the luxurious lodges as a base.
Hiking on Mount Rainier: Fed by huge amounts of melting snow each summer, meadows of wildflowers on the flanks of Mount Rainier burst into bloom each year in July. Through these colorful hillsides meander miles of hiking trails that are among the most memorable in the state. Sure, you'll encounter crowds, but the wildflower displays and the picture-perfect Mount Rainier backdrop far outweigh the inconvenience of dealing with hordes of other hikers.
Climbing Mount St. Helens: Though it isn't the highest peak in the Washington Cascades, Mount St. Helens is the most interesting mountain to climb. You don't need technical climbing skills, just lots of stamina and a tolerance for hiking in dusty conditions (if the snow has melted, you'll be hiking in volcanic ash).
Windsurfing at Hood River: Winds through the Columbia Gorge whip up white-capped standing waves, turning this area into the windsurfing capital of the U.S., attracting boardsailors from around the world.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.