With well over 100 state parks in Washington, there’s always something to explore without traveling too far from home. The state’s many parks are located on the coast, in the mountains, on islands, and far out east. Many of the parks offer a range of activities from camping to hiking to exploring old bunkers when the park was once a fort. We’ve put together a list of our six favorite parks to visit.
Located on the southwest tip of the state, Cape Disappointment State Park was once an old military fort. It still contains cold and dark tunnels of the old batteries that were installed to protect the country from a coastal attack. The park provides a good number of campsites, RV sites, and yurts. It’s a good idea to stay at least one night as this is a large park with many things to see and do. There are two lighthouses within the park, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, multiple beaches, spectacular viewpoints overlooking bluffs and cliffs, and a number of hiking trails. The park also has an onsite store and pizza place!
More Info: Exploring Cape Disappointment State Park
A popular Instagram photo many have seen, is that of Deception Pass Bridge, which runs through Deception Pass State Park along Route 20. The bridge opened in 1935 and is one of those iconic PNW structures which everyone loves to explore. Besides the bridge, Deception Pass State Park also offers many hiking trails, marine activities, camping, wildlife and much more.
One of three strategically placed forts to protect the Puget Sound from coastal attack, Fort Worden was located at the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula. The fort never saw battle and later became a state park. Among the many things to see and explore here are the forts historic lodging opportunities, artillery hill with its many batteries to walk through, wonderful views stretching from Mt. Baker down to Mt. Rainier, the Point Wilson Lighthouse, hiking and camping opportunities, and even a castle! Yes, the historic Alexander’s Castle is available for overnight accommodations.
More Info: Fort Worden Historical State Park
Known as being one of the world’s best whale watching sites from land, Lime Kiln State Park is located on the west side of San Juan Island. It was originally the spot of lime quarries and operations in 1860. It still houses a renovated lime kiln which is open to the public to explore. Besides the old lime kiln, there is also an interpretive center with orca statues, fin replica, and more education information. The lighthouse is used for whale research and it’s also open for tours.
More Info: Visiting San Juan Island
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, and a place to really get away from the city, head on out to Bridgeport State Park. Located in eastern Washington, about a four hour drive from Seattle, the park is nestled up along the Columbia River Gorge and provides great views of the river and cliffs across the way. For being in such a dry area, the park certainly knows how to keep its lawn green. There are plenty of trees for shade and the camping sites are well spaced. Staying at least one night here is a must, staying two nights would be recommended. Features of the park include hiking trails, water activities, a golf course, perfect stargazing opportunities, and more.
More Info: Camping at Bridgeport State Park
Another park out east, Potholes State Park, is bordered with the western side of Potholes Reservoir. Although the tent sites are pretty dry here, the rest of the park is lush and green. This park is popular with water activities and provides 6,000’ of freshwater shoreline. As a bonus, nearby is Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
More Info: Potholes State Park
This is just a small sampling of the many state parks Washington provides. We hope you find one that interests you and we’d love to hear about your experience after your visit. To get an idea of where each park is located within the state, have a look at this map we put together. We wish you happy trails!
Wander More, Worry Less!