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With lush landscapes characterized by forests, deep fjords, and numerous lakes, Washington State the most northernly state in the continental US, and boasts some of the country's most scenic parks.
(Some of the hiking in these parks is quite remote. I would highly recommend using a GPS device or a hiking watch that has GPS so you don’t get lost. If you plan on camping in the parks, keep in mind there are few if any facilities and you will need to bring in your own shelter. I would recommend a lightweight backpacking tent and be sure to bring plenty of food and water.)
That said, here are my top five recommendations:
Ohanapecosh, Mount Rainier National Park
Though there are three camping grounds inside Mount Rainier National Park and of course, all three are famous, impressive, and beautiful. of the three, The reasons Ohanapecosh is top on my list is the river that runs right it; the luxuriant age-old forest; and the fact that of the three it has least crowds. Also, farther along on the road is the renowned Grove of the Patriarchs track. Here you can see some of the biggest trees imaginable.
There are some very nice facilities here, including water and flush toilets. You can book in advance, for only $15 a night. With 188 camps to choose from, Ohanapecosh offers you a budget-friendly natural environment for you and your family. However, there are no cooking facilities, so you might want to plan with that in mind.
Moran State Park, Orcas Island, San Juan Islands
Moran Park (top) is simply breathtaking - from the camp, you can climb to the top of a small mountain and let your eyes feast on the jaw-dropping view all around.
The park is compromised of 166 camps, which are spread out in five areas, four of which are in the vicinity of the park's fresh water lakes. You should aim to go to Mountain Lake if you want more privacy. The trail is fantastic for early-morning walks.
Also, you can choose between hiking, cycling or a drive to the top of Mount Constitution, an impressive 2,400 feet high; while at the top, gaze at the view from the 1930s New Deal public works-era surveillance tower.
For an amazing $12.25 a night, you will agree that is worth every penny of your money. You can reserve up to 9 months in advance.
photo: Susan Ridley
Kalaloch, Olympic National Park
Have you always wanted to camp next to the ocean? If so, Kalaloch (above) is the place to hit, sitting astride some of the most accessible areas of this national park's expansive 73 miles of wild Pacific coastline.
Some camps are set right next to the ocean, where you will be serenaded by the symphony of crashing waves at the shore, while others are set back but still allow scenic Pacific views. You can get right down to the shore via several some stairs. Once there, you can take long, bracing strolls in either direction as you enjoy the wind in your hair.
You may want to make your reservations in advance as there is always a crowd. It is open year round and the charges per night are $14-$18. Water is available, as well as flush toilets.
Cape Disappointment State Park
An expansive 1,882 acres park on the Long Beach Peninsula, Cape Disappointment State Park in addition to camping facilities features two lighthouses; two miles of ocean beach and hiking trails; old-growth forests; lovely lakes and streams; salt- and freshwater marshes; and of course plenty of beach exploration including fascinating tidal pools.
Charges: $5 for ages 18 and older; $2.50 for ages 7-17, and free for 6 or younger.
Rattlesnake Ledge Trail
A moderate-rated trail that features a lake, Rattlesnake Ledge Trail This is a fantastic place for hiking, offers some activities and is open all year. Dogs can use the path, but they must be kept on a leash. Atop Rattlesnake Ridge, you can catch breathtaking views of Mount Washington and Mount Si.
The summer months are very busy here. You will be able to catch panoramic views from above Rattlesnake Ridge. There is also a fantastic park situated down below. Many folks come to use the lake in the warmer months; neither motor boats nor fishing is permitted, however.