I’ve been looking around for a list for Washington, and I’ve yet to find one. Yet there are three national parks, 2 national monuments, and much more in this amazing and diverse state! I only wish I could find more for the eastern side of Washington though. I grouped Olympic Coast and Rainforest together, yet I couldn’t find an image of both, so I had to use two images instead.
DISCLAIMER: None of these images belong to me. I found them on Google Images.
So here’s my choice for the “7 Natural Wonders of Washington:”
1. Mount Rainier National Park– centered around the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range, Rainier, and encompasses the largest glacial system in the lower 48 states. The park was the fourth national park to ever be designated in the U.S. and is renowned for some of the best wildflower displays found in the entire Cascade Range.
2. The Olympic Rainforests and Coastline– one of largest temperate rainforests in the world, and reaches down to the rugged Olympic Coastline, the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the lower 48 states. It resides in the Olympic National Park, which is unique in the U.S. for featuring three types of parks, the rugged shoreline, the lush rainforest, and the rugged mountains reaching heights of over 7,000 feet high!
3. Palouse Falls State Park and the Channeled Scablands– Its size and splendor make Palouse Falls one of the most scenic and impressive waterfalls in the Channeled Scablands and all of Washington, its vertical cliffs scoured clean by a flood unleashed when a large glacial lake drained. They are a geologically unique erosional feature in the U.S. state of Washington.
4. North Cascades National Park– Boasts more glaciers than any other U.S. park outside of Alaska. Glaciers carve their way down deep gorges carved out between granite peaks amid peaks with names like Forbidden, Terror, and Liberty Bell. This area of jagged, hard-crested peaks is known as the “American Alps.”
5. Mount Adams– Washington’s “Forgotten Giant” is the largest volcano in the Pacific Northwest and the second tallest in the state, making Adams one of the most impressive mountains in the Cascades. It is topped by 11 icy glaciers, the largest is the Adams Glacier, which cascades down from the summit icecap in a series of very impressive icefalls.
6. San Juan Islands– an archipelago consisting of a staggering 172 islands as well over 300 miles of shoreline carved out by a huge glacier that carved out the entire Pudget Sound lowland. The islands are famous for their resident pods of Orca whales and for their inspiring views of the mountains and sound in all directions.
7. Mount St. Helens– Erupted at 8:32 Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, and blew down or scorched 230 square miles of forested land. The land is still recovering and life now flourishes in this healing and dynamic land. Mount St. Helens is located in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Mount St. Helens will very likely become Washington’s fourth national park—it certainly deserves it!
Honorable Mentions that didn’t make it onto the list:
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (Southern Washington)
- Hells Canyon (Extreme Southeastern Washington)
- Klickitat Canyon (Eastern Washington)
- Lake Chelan, Diablo Lake, and Ross Lake. (Part of North Cascades National Park Complex.)
- Snoqualmie Falls (Western WA)
- Ape Caves (Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Gifford Pinchot National Forest)
- Big Lava Bed (Gifford Pinchot National Forest)
- Enchantment Lakes (Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the Central WA Cascades)
- Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan (Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and North Cascades National Park)
I heavily considered the Columbia River Gorge, but figured that was more of an Oregon thing, even if most of the National Scenic land lies in Washington. Also, I considered Hells Canyon, but again, that is mostly in Oregon and Idaho, with the extreme northern tip in SE Washington. Snoqualmie Falls also was considered. If I missed anything that should be on the list, it’s probably because I’m mostly familiar with my local area, around Portland, OR and the Gifford Pinchot NF in WA. My knowledge of Washington’s geography decreases the further north you go, while my strongest area of expertise is SW WA, mainly the Gifford Pinchot NF and Mount Rainier NP areas. Central Cascades region and Eastern WA is my weakest area of expertise I’m afraid.