Washington is full of incredible state parks, and each is unique with something incredible to offer. Whether you want rugged coastal scenes, epic mountains, cool lakes, or a mix of everything, chances are there will be a park that has you covered.
While most of these are fantastic on their own, you’ll soon find out some are even better due to the location. When road tripping Washington, state parks are some of the best places to stay. Not only are the amenities great, but they are going to be set right where you want to adventure.
No matter where you are in the Evergreen State, there will be a state park not too far away. Here is a quick insight into some of the best state parks in Washington.
1. Cape Disappointment State Park
Everyone has heard of Cape Disappointment State Park, and everyone will tell you the same thing… it is far from disappointing! It sits on the very southwestern tip of the state, where the Columbia River meets the ocean.
So, quick history lesson, Bristish Trader John Meares was ‘disappointed’ when he came to the area and thought it was just a bay, not the Columbia River, and the name stuck. Not only that, but it is also one of the most treacherous stretches of coastline in the world for sailors, thanks to the large sandbar in the water. But enough of that, let’s talk about some of the best things to do in the park…
Three beautiful beaches are perfect for doing all those classic beachy things like strolling along the shore, building sandcastles, boogie-boarding, and flying kites. There are some great trails for those avid hikers out there, such as the North Head Trail, Bell’s View, and the Discovery Trail.
There is tons of history for history buffs, with WW2 sites and a large Interpretive Center, which doubles up as a great viewpoint. We could also go on about the nature viewing, cycling trails, lighthouses, and camping spots, but it is best if you go and check this one out for yourselves.
The park borders Oregon and the city of Astoria, so it is great for a quick visit, even if staying in another state. For more history at state parks, visit the nearby Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon.
2. Lake Wenatchee State Park
Is it Switzerland, or is it Washington?! You would be mistaken for thinking you are in the former when you first set eyes on Lake Wenatchee but boy, do they look similar! The whole park is breathtaking and offers so many recreation opportunities; you’ll be spoilt for choice. The park is split down the middle by a river, but both should be explored, with miles and miles of trails to explore in any way you please, be it on horseback, bike, or just on your own two feet.
The lake calls visitors to boat and fish in the glacial waters and even continue along the Wenatchee River. However, the park reaches its magical peak in the winter, when snow covers the trees and mountains and the lake glitters. The activities are no less abundant; you can go cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding.
If you are staying in or near Leavenworth, you’re only 30 or so minutes away from this state park. Alternatively, the camping at Lake Wenatchee might be a perfect base for you to explore more around Leavenworth and the area. There are hundreds of sites strewn across this beautiful forested area. The Lake Valhalla Trail is a stunning hike nearby and should be on your list for hiking around Leavenworth too!
3. Lake Sammamish State Park
This State Park sits on the shores of… you guessed it… Lake Sammamish! The park provides an idyllic beach getaway just a short drive away from Seattle, with a couple of beautiful sandy beaches to enjoy. If you have your board or kayak, bring it with you and get on out into the water, or if you don’t have your own, you can always rent them right at Tibbetts Beach. Prefer to look at the water than be out on it? No problem, some lovely hiking trails wind through the forests and wetlands, with bird and nature watching opportunities.
For some family fun, there is are sheltered picnic areas, playgrounds, a volleyball court, softball fields, and a cute little cafe. Sure, this is a great park, but be sure to check out the other great parks around the lake, such as Marymoor Park, Idylwood Park, and Weowna Park Trails. The lake is magnificent, and you could spend a few days exploring it. It’s also such a relaxed spot and one of the best beaches in Seattle.
4. Deception Pass State Park
Ask anyone from Washington, and they will tell you that Deception Pass State Park is one of their favorite. It offers a great escape from the busy city of Seattle and can easily be done as a nature-filled, urban avoiding day trip. At a vast 3,854 acres, there is plenty to explore, including high cliffs, two islands, high bridges, three lakes, three miles of mountain biking trails, 38 miles of hiking trails, 6 miles of equestrian trails, thick forests, dunes, and more (phew! That’s a lot!).
Hiking is one of the biggest draws to the park. Check out scenic Lighthouse Point, or go to Rosario Beach and take in some of the park’s most rugged and wild views. This trail combines some of the best views in one nice 4.7-mile hike! If you prefer to be in the water, Cranberry and Pass Lake allow boating or take a boat out at either Cornet Bay or Bowman Bay.
There is so much to enjoy in the park that many people choose to stay in one of the three campgrounds, all of which have tent and RV camping spots and are open year-round.
5. Bogachiel State Park
Nestled deep within the cool, thick forests of the Olympic Peninsula, you will find the beautiful Bogachiel State Park. It is a place of peace and calm, with nothing much to do than take strolls and admire the incredible scenes around you.
After a full-on day of hiking, there is nothing better than coming back to a scenic campsite, resting your feet in the cool glacial streams, and listening to the sounds of the forest around you. We will be honest, there’s not much to do here! BUT the reason it’s on this list is that many people make it a fantastic base for their Olympic National Park adventure.
There are some fascinating places to explore just outside of Bogachiel, such as the jaw-dropping halls of moss in the Hoh Rainforest or the jagged cliffs of the Pacific Coastline.
You are only 30 minutes from La Push Beach, Ruby Beach, and the epic Hole in the Wall hike at Rialto Beach! If you stay there long enough and fall in love, you may even find yourself calling the park ‘Bogie’ as the locals do. Do be sure to reserve your camping spot because while this state park doesn’t offer much itself, everyone loves its location and sites do get booked out quickly.
6. Battle Ground Lake State Park
For years tourists and locals alike have flocked to Battle Ground Lake to swim, fish, and splash in the waters. Spread across 28-acres, there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy this crater-turned-lake and surrounding park. Take a walk on one of the hiking paths surrounding the lake, walk your furry friend, take a bike ride, or watch the wildlife that frequent the area. As non-motorized boats are allowed on the lake, paddlers and kayakers head to the boat ramp, eager to be first in the water.
However, it is not just the state park that makes this area so popular. Waterfalls are abundant, with favorites including Moulton, Yacolt, Sunset, and Lucia Falls. A lake and waterfalls… it is a nature lover’s dream! This is also one of the best state parks near Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. So if you want to be near the cities but not be too far removed from nature, this is the state park for you.
We hope this helped you choose some great state parks to add to your list while you’re adventuring around Washington.
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Guest Author: Contributed by Washington is for Adventure