With Washington’s diverse geography and diverse ecosystem, it’s no surprise that the state has been a destination of choice for generations of outdoor enthusiasts. There are ample opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, biking, boating, canoeing, fishing, golfing and horseback riding. The winter sports offer includes alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoe hikes. Surfing, windsurfing, water skiing, diving and swimming are ideal for water sports fans. And opportunities for cycling – whether motorized or not – are very numerous on roads, bike paths or cross-country.
Even locals who spend most of their free time exploring their own state agree that there is always something new to discover with so many things to do. Probably nobody knows the exact length of the hiking, riding and cycling trails, but it can be assumed that it is several hundred thousand kilometers. Much of it is protected in one way or another. Washington State is home to three of the nation’s most beautiful national parks, more than one hundred state parks and numerous wildlife sanctuaries, wilderness areas, recreation areas and green belts.
In addition to some small but fine mountain ranges, the state has two large mountain ranges, the Cascade Mountains and the Olympic Mountains. Both offer countless opportunities for outdoor activities – from ambitious “hardcore climbing” or mountain biking to a leisurely walk through the old forests or a leisurely family picnic.
In the winter, Washington’s mountains offer everything from “expert runs” for skiers and snowboarders to easy runs for beginners or tubing for the whole family.
And water is plentiful here in the state too: Pacific coast, waterways and islands combined, Washington has nearly 5,000 kilometers of shoreline. And with an impressive array of glacial-fed rivers, freshwater lakes and reservoirs, Washington is a paradise for anyone who loves water and all things water. Washington also offers rainforests, deserts and wetlands.
According to collegesanduniversitiesinusa, Washington is great for bicycling. You can find bike rentals everywhere. There are also numerous bike tour organizers with a wide range of offers. Seattle and Spokane in particular are very bike-friendly cities with miles of dedicated bike lanes and paved bike lanes. Thousands of miles of beautiful back roads stretch throughout the state and are popular with cyclists. Incidentally, mountain bikers and off-roaders also get their money’s worth.
Since Washington State’s ferries are also very bike-friendly, it’s easy to trade the city’s paved roads and trails for beautiful backroads in the rural areas of the San Juan Islands or Bainbridge, Vashon and Whidbey Islands in Puget Sound.
Washington State is a paradise for paddlers, jet skiers, surfers, whitewater rafters and rowers. You can also go swimming, windsurfing, kitesurfing and paragliding here. Washington’s numerous beaches, rivers, lakes and reservoirs make it possible.
Not to forget the opportunities offered by attractions other than the Pacific Coast, such as Puget Sound, the Columbia River Gorge, the incomparably beautiful Crescent Lake and Ozette Lake on the Olympic Peninsula, Lake Chelan in eastern Washington and Banks Lake near the Grand Coulee Dam.
Washington would have earned the nickname Evergreen State for its many public and private green fairways alone. The large number of golf courses allows you to choose whether you prefer to play on the water, in desert regions, in the city, on rural fairways on picturesque islands, or on courses near national or state parks.
Hiking & Climbing
Washington offers coastal cliffs, caves above and below ground, cliffs, glaciers, rock massifs and chasms, hills, mountains, peaks and gorges, rock outcrops of all shapes and sizes just waiting to be conquered. For all those who are not looking for the direct route to the summit and who like to spend their free time a little more moderately, there are of course also numerous signposted hiking trails to many natural beauties and vantage points.
Coastal regions, pristine mountainous regions, temperate rainforests, deserts, prairies, wetlands… with so many different environments and habitats in one state, the fauna is correspondingly diverse and there is always something to see on land, in the water and in the air.
Every spring, three native orca families return to the San Juan Islands, one of the world’s premier whale watching destinations. Washington is also right on a route for migratory birds, making it an ornithologist’s dream. Birdlife is amazing at places like the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge just north of Olympia.
Rare animal encounters are possible here: both black bears and the USA’s heraldic animal – the rare bald eagle – live in Olympic National Park. When the salmon spawn in the Skagit River in the fall, it’s easy to spot these animals chasing the fish. Incidentally, even in Seattle, there are still beaver dams in Lake Washington, marine mammals in Discovery Park, and ospreys diving for fish in the waters off Alki Beach.
Whether you prefer two wheels or four, paved roads, dirt tracks, mud or sand – Washington State offers ideal conditions for every type of motorsport. A moped excursion to the San Juan Islands or a motorcycle tour on the North Cascades Highway is recommended. There are rental stations on site.
Ballooning & Paragliding
Perhaps you’d like to parasail on beautiful Lake Chelan for a bird’s-eye view of the deep blue waters, mountain peaks of the Cascades, Puget Sound and Seattle’s waterfront. If you’d rather keep your adrenalin levels a little lower, you might prefer a hot air balloon ride with fantastic views of the Methow River Valley.
Whatever form you choose to take to the skies, Washington offers the perfect blend of wind, weather and scenic beauty to ensure you have an uplifting experience!