Seven Rainy Day Parks Adventures

Rainy Day FKR Red Boots Kelly Morris
March 4, 2016

It’s raining, it’s pouring—that doesn’t mean life has to be boring! With a little gear, a wet day is great for play!

Spring is approaching, but the rainy season is far from over. That’s especially so in the western part of the state where this season’s rainfall has broken records! And more is on the way! If the kids—and you—are restless, suit up and head outside.

With plenty of places to alternately hide from and hang out in the rain, your Washington state parks—even the REALLY wet ones—are choice destinations for an adventure on the wet side. How about a few ideas for fun activities to try while you are out in the elements? Tell the kids to find their parkas, and then try one of these:


Become a meteorologist

Rainy Day FKR Measure Karen Beil
Simple tools like this rain measure can turn a wet day into a science adventure! Photo courtesy of Karen Beil.
A rainy day, a bucket and a ruler; that’s all you need to get kids started on a great weather science adventure. Set a timer and catch rain while you play or hike. Then measure it! Talk about where rain comes from and why it falls in different amounts depending on where you live. Discuss the seasons and the importance of rain to the environment.

Great parks to try:
Parks with wide open spaces and play equipment are great for this activity! Check out Saint Edward, Sacajawea, Fort Simcoe or Wenatchee Confluence state parks, or find one in your area!

Get artsy!

Rainy Day FKR Twanoh Shelter Bahai ViewsFlitzy Phoebie
Get cozy and make some art at a Washington state park shelters, like this one at Twanoh State Park. Photo courtesy of George Wesley & Bonita Dannells
Gather art supplies, and take your favorite rainy day activity outside! For a fun project, take paper plates and food coloring along. Dot the plates with color, then let the rain add its own touch to the masterpiece. “Paint” with mud or rain water. Make a chalk drawing and see what the rain adds to it. Or find a picnic shelter, and set up your art studio at one of the tables! Listen to the sound of the rain on the roof and enjoy a cozy creative experience in the outdoors! If your shelter has a fireplace, bring along some wood, and ask park staff if you can start a fire for an added layer of warmth and atmosphere.

Great parks to try:
Deception Pass, Twanoh and Schafer state parks are a great start for this adventure! 

Inspire your inner naturalist!

Rainy Day FKR Wet Squirrel Barbara Krawcowicz
How do animals react to rain? Put all your senses to work and make discoveries! Photo courtesy of Barbara Krawcowicz
Plants and especially animals react to the downpour in different ways. Bring along a magnifying glass and a journal and go on a nature hunt to discover how the wild reacts to the wet! Ask your kids where they think insects and animals go when it rains. Or observe how different kinds of birds deal with the downpour. Draw pictures and write about your finds in your journal, then compare notes!

Great parks to try:
Wonderful wildlife parks abound in Washington. Try Dosewallips, Yakima Sportsman or Lewis & Clark state parks for a start!

Jump in puddles

Rainy Day FKR Muddle Jump lulupine
Jump! It's good for the heart and soul! Photo courtesy of Lucille Pine
Ask any kid—or even some adults—what is their favorite thing to do outside in the rain, and chances are you will hear a resounding “JUMP IN PUDDLES”! Splooshing, splashing and splattering mud all over with your boots is just plain fun— not to mention great exercise. Hand the kids an umbrella and let them have at it. Oh, and you might want to bring a towel or six. Just in case.

Great parks to try:
Mud and puddles will be wherever the rain is. Take the leap at Bridle Trails, Iron Horse, or Wallace Falls, or whichever Washington State Park the rain clouds point you to! 

Sail away!

Rainy Day FKR Leaf Boat Chris Gladis
“Leaf” your cares behind. Take a rainy day to play in your Washington State Parks! Photo courtesy of Chris Gladis
A few leaves, a bit of wood or a piece of bark—practically anything can be transformed into a little boat to float upon a river, stream or just a puddle. Ask kids, “Why do some things float while others do not?” Look for insects or animals that live in—or on—the water. Add leaf sails and pine-needle sailors to your boats, then hold a miniature America’s Cup. Winner buys the cocoa!

Great parks to try:
Water is a big part of Washington parks—try Lake Sylvia, Larrabee, Lewis & Clark Trail, or Potholes state parks just to name a few! 

Take a walk

Rainy Day Kids FKR Walking Frans Persoon
An umbrella built for two. Nothing brings you closer than a quiet walk in the rain. Photo courtesy of Frans Persoon
A walk in the woods: What could be more simple or satisfying? As you walk, ask your kids to listen to the sounds of the rain as it falls harder or softer, on your umbrella, leaves, soil or water. Observe where the rain falls harder or softer—under the trees or in a meadow? Talk, make up songs to the beat of the rain or just quietly observe how fresh the world feels when it rains.

Great parks to try:
A woodland park is just right for walking on a wet day. A few nice ones are Brooks Memorial, Millersylvania, Olallie, Rockport and Fields Spring state parks. 

Just stay inside – at an Interpretive Center!

Learn a lot and stay dry. Interpretive centers like this one at the Mount St. Helens Visitors Center is a great place to linger and learn on a rainy day!  Photo courtesy of Sam Churchill
History! Geology! Astronomy! Biology! Interpretive centers at state parks are great places to visit and fun places to learn! Take a rainy day field trip to North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment State Park for a glimpse into Washington’s maritime past. Discover how the Civilian Conservation Corps helped shape our state parks at Deception Pass. Relive the pioneer days at Olmstead Place State Park and marvel at the dramatic effects of the Ice Age Floods at the Dry Falls Visitor’s Center.

More great parks to try:

There’s plenty more fun learning opportunities at Washington state parks. Visit Goldendale ObservatoryMount St. Helens Visitor Center and Sacajawea state parks for even more fun and educational opportunities.

Have a favorite outdoor activity and state park you enjoy on a rainy day?
Share it with us! Upload your photos using the Share Your Story portal.

Feature photo of kids boots courtesy of Kelly Morris