On Aug. 25, America’s National Parks Service turn 100 years old. Our state is fortunate to be home to not only incredible national parks, but numerous historic sites, recreation areas, forests, glaciers, trails and more!
Washington State Parks and National Parks are different entities to be sure, but we share a rich tradition of stewarding these precious places and keeping them accessible for everyone to enjoy. National Parks are marking this momentous occasion with free admission Aug. 25 to 28, and your state parks are following suit with a free day as well. No Discover Pass will be required Aug. 25 for day-use vehicle access.
Are you getting out to play at Washington state’s National Parks? When you do, why not enrich your experience with a stop at a nearby state park? You might just discover a whole new side to the lands you love!
We’d like to recommend some national/state park combo road trip adventures and hope you’ll be inspired to create a few of your own!
When you visit:
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
What wood you like to know? History comes alive at Fort Vancouver Historic Site with interactive demonstrations such as this one at the fort’s carpenter’s shop. Photo by Alex Butterfield
Hudson’s Bay Company set up a fur trading post at the site on the northern bank of the Columbia River in 1824. It quickly became the cultural and economic hub of the west until it was surpassed by San Francisco during the gold rush in the 1840s. Since then, the fort served as a U.S. Army Post and during World War I became home to the storied Pearson Field, the oldest operating air field in the Pacific Northwest.
Immerse yourself in history at the Fort’s four sites, each with a unique link to the past.
So relaxing, a battle never happened here. Come enjoy a peaceful day at Battleground Lake State Park.
The history of Battleground Lake stretches back 100,000 years to the volcanic eruption that carved the caldera that is now a lake and popular fishing spot. The name, however, dates back to 1855, when Fort Vancouver soldiers and native tribes met there for a confrontation that, ironically, never resulted in a war. Cool off with a restful day of fishing or swimming at this forested campground as you reflect on the sometimes tumultuous history of the west.
Well, hey, deer! A visit to Olympic National Park is an unforgettable experience. Photo by javi.velazquez
The pride of the Olympic Peninsula! President Theodore Roosevelt declared it a “bully” place to play, setting aside 615,000 acres of the precious peninsula in 1909. It was not officially a park until his cousin, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, declared it so nearly 30 years later.
More than a park, Olympic National Park is not just gorgeous peaks and beautiful vistas—it is home to one of the world’s few rainforests and the only one in North America. Temperate, verdant and breathtaking, it is a must-see for every outdoor enthusiast.
Come explore the bluff trails and rich military history at Fort Townsend Historical State Park. Photo by PTMurphus
A not-to-be-missed blend of stunning peninsula beauty and military history, Fort Townsend Historical State Park is an outdoor entertainment mecca. Explore the batteries and barracks of this mid-19th Century Army post and enjoy the walks along forested trails lined by trees grown to amazing heights in the peninsula’s rich soil.
When you visit:
San Juan Island National Historical Park
Walk up Garrison Hill overlooking English Camp at San Juan National Historic Site for some spectacular views of the archipelago. Photo by Les Williams.
San Juan Island is just 55 square miles in size, but its place in history is huge. The island’s ownership was among one of the most contested in the world. Once you visit this jewel, you’ll have no doubts why this lovely—and strategic—isle spurred more than three centuries of contention among western European powers.
Unique and stunning, San Juan Island is now home to parks that belong to us all. At San Juan Island National Historical Park, experience the steely beauty of the Northern Pacific Ocean, the intriguing history of San Juan and the people who called it home.
Yep, sunset over Copper Ridge in North Cascades National Park is outrageously beautiful. Photo by Andy Porter.
From the mountains to the valleys and everything in between: North Cascades National Park is a vast wonderland of eight ecosystems. Climb, fish, raft, boat, paddle, bike, ride your horse, or just take an interpretive walk with a ranger through some of the most pristine forest in the world. Travel tip: The fall foliage at this park is breathtaking.
This alpine park complex has something for everyone looking for a classic an unforgettable national park experience.
Rockport State Park is home to some of the largest stands of old-growth trees in the Northwest.
Looking to experience classic Pacific Northwest forest? Drop into Rockport! Don’t forget to look up as you walk among the giant trees. Start with a hike on the 3-mile Evergreen Trail with nearly 600 acres of awe-inspiring old-growth timber to explore. Then, climb the steep, 2-mile trail to the top of Sauk Mountain for some incredible views of the surrounding Cascades.
When you visit:
Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve
Whidbey Island has an abundance of historical and natural treasures, such as Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. Photo by Jacob McGinnis
With its fertile land, rich resources, abundant fishing and protection from the harsh weather of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, it’s little wonder settlers of every ilk flocked to Whidbey Island for centuries. Come explore the island’s rich past as a home to the Skagit Indians and later the stuff of dreams for pioneer settlers. Imagine what pioneer life was like as you drink in the bucolic surroundings. Visit the blockhouse built in the 1850s by Colonel Isaac Neff Ebey to defend his claim on the land and the Jacob & Sarah Ebey House, which served as the family home.
Stop in to:
Fort Ebey State Park (about 10 minutes away by car)
Explore the gun battery. Play on the beach. Fort Ebey is a nifty place to learn and play. Photo by Jacob Moyer
A peaceful camping park on the saltwater shoreline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Fort Ebey also is a reminder of a turbulent time in our nation’s past. Travel back to World War II America as you explore the gun battery, which once housed the two 6-inch guns built to defend the shore.
When you visit:
Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail
Yes, water did all that! Massive floods carved all the spots on the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, such as this one at Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park, into spectacular places. Photo by David Brobeck
A trail that spans four states and thousands of years! The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail travels through the miles of countryside carved by cataclysmic floods more than a dozen millennia ago. More than a single park, Geologic Trail is a collection of monuments and natural areas that create a picture of this geographic phenomenon.
Stop in to:
Washington State Parks on the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail
You gotta love it! Mount Rainier National Park is the beloved symbol of Washington’s natural beauty. Photo by Nickay3111
An active volcano reaching nearly 3-miles high, covered in glaciers and dominating the skyline for hundreds of miles, Mount Rainier is an icon of Washington’s natural beauty. It’s also one of the most visited and popular parks in the world. Whether you prefer summer hiking through its ancient forests or facing the ferocity of the mountain in winter, autumn colors or spring wildflowers, Mount Rainier offers a lifetime of discovery.
Stop in to:
Nisqually State Park
(about 36 minutes away by car).
Inspire your awe! Gaze into the heart of Rainier’s majesty at Nisqually State Park, one of our newest parks. Located about 30 miles due west of the volcano’s center, this 1,300-acre park has great trails for walking, trail biking and horseback riding. Walk along the rustic, forested trails to the rim of the Mashel Valley. Pack that camera! You’ll find great views of the river and mountains.
From to the city streets of Seattle to the alpine shores of Lake Chelan, opportunities to experience state and national parks together are abundant here in Washington.
Where will you go? Where have you been? Share your stories and pictures here!