At Olympic National Park you will find Pacific Ocean beaches, rain forest valleys, glacier-capped peaks and a stunning variety of plants and animals. Roads provide access to the outer edges of the park, but the heart of Olympic is wilderness; a primeval sanctuary for humans and wild creatures alike.
Washington offers the vacationer and the outdoor-sports enthusiast a wide choice of recreational opportunities. Towering snowcapped mountains challenge skiers and mountain climbers; dense forests attract hunters, hikers, campers, and nature lovers; and mountain streams, crystal-clear lakes, surging rivers, and reservoirs offer superb fishing and boating opportunities.
The Pacific Coast, with its beautiful beaches, coves, and dunes, and the Puget Sound area, with its many inlets and islets, are other attractions for tourists and native Washingtonians alike. Attempts to tame nature can be seen in wonders such as the massive Grand Coulee Dam or Seattle's floating bridges. From small farming or fishing towns to vibrant cities, nearly all of Washington's communities provide activities for residents and visitors.
Mount Rainier National Park is open all year. It offers hiking, nature walks, skiing, mountain climbing, and spectacular views. Olympic National Park is less developed than Mount Rainier, and much of it is still unspoiled wilderness. Hiking trails take visitors through beautiful rain forests, to colorful alpine meadows, and up to glaciated peaks. North Cascades National Park contains the most rugged section of the northern Cascade Mountains, composed of jagged peaks and deep canyons.
Whitman Mission National Historic Site, near Walla Walla, marks the site of the mission begun by Marcus and Narcissa Whitman in 1836. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is in Vancouver, the Hudson's Bay Company's western headquarters from 1825 to 1849. San Juan Island National Historical Park commemorates a period when the island was jointly occupied by Britain and the United States during a boundary dispute between the two. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Seattle is the southern portion of the Alaska park, describing the 1890s gold rush and its impact on the region.
The United States Forest Service administers the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, where visitors can closely view the effects of the mountain's massive eruption in 1980. The Mount Baker National Recreation Area is also under Forest Service jurisdiction. The National Park Service administers several areas devoted to a spectrum of outdoor uses.
In eastern Washington is the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, which contains the long Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake. In the rugged northern section of the Cascade Mountains are the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan national recreation areas.
Washington has nine national forests, five of which encompass the higher elevations of the Cascade Range from Canada to Oregon. These publicly owned forests are open to recreational users, as well as to loggers.
Many wilderness areas have been set aside in the national forests. Road construction, use of motorized equipment, and other activities which would detract from the pristine natural settings are prohibited. Wilderness areas include the Pasayten and Glacier Peak areas, in the North Cascades; Alpine Lakes, a short distance from heavily urbanized Puget Sound; Goat Rocks and Mount Adams, in the middle Cascades south of Mount Rainier; Wenaha-Tucannon, in the Blue Mountains of the southeast; and Salmo-Priest, in the lightly-populated northeast.