Washington offers a full spectrum of outdoor adventures, no matter the time of year.
Spring is the best time to trek to the eastern half of the state. The sun shines brightly over recreational paradises like Steamboat Rock State Park, a fun spot for fishing, boating, and waterskiing.
Also enjoyable in late spring is the Yakima River Canyon, an anglers’ favorite and a great spot for rafting. The area is also an ideal hiking ground when most other areas are still snow-covered.
Or, if you don’t mind the rain and want to keep close to Seattle, pedal up, down, and ’round the hills of Whidbey Island. Stop in at the boutiques and bed-and-breakfasts in Langley or Coupeville and make it a fun overnight trip.
Mountain climbers can make ascents up Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, or Mount Saint Helens. Hikers will find most passes open after the fourth of July, making this a prime time for epic backpacking trips on the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier or Elwha River Trail through Olympic National Park. Or just opt for a day hike up to Heather Meadows near Mount Baker or the Big Four Ice Caves on the Mountain Loop Highway, or the dramatic Kendal Katwalk along the longer Pacific Crest Trail.
Very early fall is also when area river rafters gear up to enjoy the Tieton River, which rages after the Bureau of Reclamation releases a torrent of dam water in what locals call the “flip-flop.”
Downhill skiers have a full spectrum of resorts and ski areas to choose among in the state. Most convenient to Seattle is Snoqualmie Pass, less than an hour away from the city, with a decent range of runs. Better yet, travel just a bit farther up to Stevens Pass for one of the best all-around ski areas in the state.
Hard-core skiers will do well to make the trek up north to Mount Baker, down south to Crystal Mountain, or toward Wenatchee’s Mission Ridge for the most challenging runs, even if they are a bit out of the way.
Those who prefer to ski on level ground can also sweat it out on the miles of cross-country trails offered by the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association, near Winthrop, which offers small camping huts along the trail for a multi-day adventure. Similar hut-to-hut skiing can be found along the Mount Tahoma Trails network of trails near Mount Rainier.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition