San Juan Islands Lodging

Washington's other Top Destinations

Blake Island
This is a marine state park accessible only by boat - which adds to the adventure of this special attraction. It is a popular hiking and clamming destination, with nature trails and beach walks. The park preserves the birthplace of Chief Sealth and is the site of Tillicum Village, where North Coast tribal heritage is shared with visitors in an authentic cedar longhouse with traditional salmon bakes and native dances. Visit via tour boats that depart from piers 55 and 56 on the Seattle waterfront.

Boeing Hangars
Boeing is not only Washington's largest private employer, but its assembly plant for the 747-767 Division in South Everett has the distinction of being the largest building by volume in the world. It's difficult to appreciate the enormity of these hangars until actually experiencing them firsthand. Public tours are held daily weekdays, except holidays.

Boulder River Wilderness Area -
Old Growth Forest
Visit one of the last remaining virgin lowland forests in the state of Washington; preserved as part of our natural heritage in this beautiful Wilderness Area. Hikers follow a path along the Boulder River and can experience firsthand the unique features of an old-growth forest. Note the sunlight shining through openings in the forest canopy, the great diversity in the size and age of the Douglas-firs (some over 200 years old), and the abundance of standing and fallen snags in various stages of decomposition. Large fallen logs in the river aid in maintaining this valuable water ecosystem. The area is rich in native flora and fauna. Hundreds of varieties of mosses, ferns, and fungi grow along the banks of the trail. Look closely for the Pacific yew and the creeping Bunchberry. Many animal species, such as the Northern spotted owl, the flying squirrel, the marbled murrelet, and the fringed pinesap require the environment of an ancient forest to sustain healthy and viable populations. As always, tread lightly and pack it all out. From I-5 go east from Arlington on SR 530 through the town of Oso; continue 8 miles east to mile marker #41; turn south on French Creek Road (Forest Service Road 2010); drive about 4 miles to a parking area at the trail's head.

Chuckanut Drive (SR 11)
The first highway in Washington to be built exclusively as a scenic drive. It runs between the Historic District of Fairhaven, a Victorian hamlet just south of Bellingham, and the peaceful farm community of Bow in the flatlands east of Padilla Bay. It winds its way high above Samish Bay through coastal forests, clinging to the side of Chuckanut Mountain. Motorists should drive slowly, enjoy the views out over the water of the San Juan Islands, and plan to stop for a food break at one of the fine restaurants along the way. Accommodations can be found at several B & Bs in the area, or camping is available at Larrabee State Park, where visitors can hike to the beach.

Coulee Country and the Upper Columbia
The distinctive features that characterize the pitted landscape of the Channeled Scablands on the upper Columbia Plateau are believed to be the remnants of a series of catastrophic floods that surged across this area during the last Ice Age. Raging floodwaters cut through the channels that carried the Columbia River carving out deep canyons and sculpting hundreds of ship rocks. As the earth's climate moderated, the land as we see it today began to take form. The Columbia resumed its original course westward along the northern rim of the plateau to the North Cascades before heading south. Many of the floodways dried up, leaving behind dry canyons - coulees - with sheer walls of exposed layers of basalt. Some of the deeper basins continued to hold water and became lakes - such as Soap Lake, Moses Lake, and Potholes. To witness the dramatic effects of these cataclysmic events explore the Banks Lake area where, until recent times, the Grand Coulee was all but a vast dry wash, or travel up the smaller Moses Coulee. View Steamboat Rock and visit the Interpretive Center at Dry Falls, a 3 1/2-mile wide dry cataract that drops 400'.

Some of the Columbia's most spectacular scenery can be viewed by boat along a 30 mile stretch between Rock Island and Vantage. Eroded canyon walls display angular columns and crumbling towers. Motorists should visit the Ginkgo Petrified Forest and Interpretive Center where over 200 species of trees, including the Chinese ginkgo, once grew near the banks of the ancient river. Entombed by primeval lava flows and preserved by unique chemical reactions, these "trees of stone" were gradually unveiled as the land uplifted and the Ice Age floodwaters wore away their basalt shrouds.

Deception Pass
Located at the northern tip of rural Whidbey Island, the awe-inspiring view from the towering bridge that spans the Pass never fails to capture the attention of touring motorists. Take time to explore the scenic state park just south of the bridge.

Dungeness Spit
This is the longest natural sand spit in the United States. It is located just north of Sequim on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, a key staging area for over 200 species of birds, encompasses the spit. Occasionally marine mammals, including Orca whales, are seen here. Sometimes harbor seals haul out and pup on the protected beach. Take care not to disturb any of the animals. The 631-acre refuge is open daily from dawn to dusk with access limited by foot or horseback only. Pets are not allowed. The New Dungeness Lighthouse, established in 1857, sits near the tip of the sandy hook and houses a small museum. The keeper offers a quick tour for those who make the 5.5-mile hike out. Adjacent to the spit is the Dungeness Recreation Area with 216 acres of shoreline to enjoy (pets on leashes are okay here). This is a popular destination for birdwatching, fishing and shellfishing, hiking and beachcombing. Picnicking and camping facilities are available in the Recreation Area.

Hell's Canyon
The deepest gorge in North America plunging 7800 feet (2800 meters) at its lowest point. Located along the Snake River between Idaho on the east and Washington and Oregon on the west this National Recreation Area has some of the country's most spectacular wildlands and scenic vistas. Explore the canyon by jet boat departing out of Clarkston.

Hiram M. Chittenden Government Locks
The ship canal links the Puget Sound with Lake Washington and Lake Union, and its dual-locks protect against salt water intrusion and maintain the proper levels in the inland waters around Seattle. Visitors can watch from footbridges as vessels of all sizes navigate through the passageway. There is also a fish ladder with an underwater observatory where you can get a great view of the annual salmon runs in the fall. Exhibits at the Visitor's Center explain in detail about the construction and operation of the project, which was completed in 1916 by the Army Corps of Engineers. The surrounding grounds are actually the Carl English, Jr. Botanical Gardens, and are well worth exploring.

When the air turns crisp and the days grow shorter, Washingtonians make their annual trek to the high country to view the spectacular autumn display seen along the road to this scenic mountain town. The leaves of the native vine maple turn a flaming yellow, orange and scarlet, while the needles of the western larch change to a brilliant yellow and orange before dropping for the winter. If timing is a problem, don't despair, a visit to Leavenworth at any season always promises to be a great sight-seeing excursion and outdoor adventure. Set high in the Cascades along the Wenatchee River, and framed by towering alpine cliffs, this friendly village with its adopted Bavarian theme offers year-round fun for all ages and interests.

Long Beach
Beach towns and ocean resorts dot the Long Beach Peninsula, a 28-mile stretch of white sandy beach along Washington's Southwest Coast. Dubbed the "World's Longest Beach," visitors to the area storm watch, beachcomb for shells and driftwood, ride horseback, fly kites, and dig clams during the spring season. For the past fifteen years the colorful town of Long Beach has hosted the ever growing and popular International Kite Festival, a week-long event filled with fun kite activities and competitions.

North Cascades Scenic Highway
A two-lane highway that winds its way through the North Cascades National Park and into the Okanagon National Forest. Travel past waterfalls, river valleys, and snowcapped pinnacles. Take SR 20 east from I-5 through Sedro Woolley; travel along the Skagit River, pass high above Ross Lake, climb up to Washington Pass, and then down into Mazama and Winthrop. This road is closed in winter due to snow.

Ohme Gardens
Perched high on a rocky bluff overlooking the Wenatchee Valley and the Columbia River, this world renowned garden features a natural-looking alpine design with stands of evergreens and succulent groundcovers that blend subtly with the existing weathered rock formations. Native stone pathways connect different garden levels, from quiet pools fed by trickling waterfalls and bordered with lush fern gardens to colorful mountain meadows with cool alpine lakes and spectacular vistas of the surrounding Cascade Mountains. Just three miles north of Wenatchee, don't miss this peaceful retreat and natural wonderland.

Palouse Country
Meander over gently rolling hills and through rural farmlands dotted with old barns and ranch houses. Ancient silt deposits from the Columbia River, blown in during the late Ice Age, give this rich wheat land its distinctive relief. To fully appreciate the beauty of this region travel in the spring when the young wheatfields are a lush green, or on a warm summer evening when the golden fields shimmer from the breeze in the setting sun. One favorite route is SR 125 between Prescott and Walla Walla.

Palouse Falls
The Palouse River in the Columbia Basin tumbles 190 feet over layers of molten basalt lava deposited there over 15 million years ago. This spectacular site has been set aside as a Washington State Park. Though its camping facilities are very limited the 95 acre park is a wonderful place to explore, have a picnic, and view wildlife.

Peace Arch
This is an impressive monument erected in recognition of nearly two centuries of peace and goodwill shared by the United States and Canada. It was built in the classic Doric style of architecture, towers 67' high, and spans our common border. Stroll freely between the two countries over the surrounding 40-acre grounds; they are beautifully manicured and planted seasonally with blooming flowers. Every year, on the second Sunday in June, thousands of US and Canadian citizens, mostly children, come together to exchange flags as a symbol of our friendship. The Peace Arch is located in the city of Blaine right at the border crossing.

Port Townsend and the Keystone Ferry
During the 1800s this once booming seaport bustled with world trade. Shipping magnates, foreign consuls, and business speculators built grand homes high on the bluff overlooking the entrance to the Puget Sound. Today this coastal town, designated a National Historic District, is distinguished for its superb Victorian architecture and historical waterfront. After touring Port Townsend, take a special ride across the windy waters of Admiralty Inlet on one of Washington's oldest ferry boats. Built in 1927, and restored in 1981 with oak fixtures and brass trim, these cozy, 75-car, vessels offer a unique experience for travelers to Whidbey Island. Arrive at the Keystone landing and explore the state park at nearby Fort Casey, where an Interpretive Center in the Admiralty Head Lighthouse explains coastal artillery and depicts the history of this former strategic U. S. Defense Post.

Riverfront Park
Located along the banks of the Spokane River and historically a gathering place and favored fishing grounds for native tribes, Riverfront Park is now the proud centerpiece of Spokane. It offers one hundred acres of rolling meadows, shady groves, walking paths, and pedestrian bridges. This was the also the site for Expo '74, the extremely popular and successful World's Fair hosted by this friendly city. The warm summer months bring on a full schedule of special events and activities for the whole family to enjoy while visiting this delightful park. Hop on the Looff Carrousel, crafted in 1909 and featuring handcarved horses modeled after New York City firetruck steeds, take in a show at the Imax Theater, or ride a gondola over the mighty Spokane Falls.

Roosevelt Lake
On May 11, 1950 Harry S. Truman came to the Grand Coulee for dedication ceremonies and to unveil a plaque naming the expansive reservoir behind the huge dam "Lake Roosevelt." Few can dispute both the short-range and long-range benefits derived from this massive project. However, it must be remembered that the construction of the dam and resulting lake displaced many small towns and thousands of people, including the Colville Tribe, who had lived and fished along the banks of the upper Columbia for generations. On the day the waters covered Kettle Falls, a traditional fishing grounds, the Salish people held a "ceremony of tears." The dam was built with no fish ladders, thus ending the salmon spawning runs forever. Today the tribe administers this National Recreation Area in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Parks, the Spokane Tribe, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. It operates a number of enterprises around the lake, including a marina at Keller Ferry that serves as the departure point for their fleet of houseboat rentals. This region has become a virtual paradise for all kinds of outdoor activities and water sports. It has over 600 miles of shoreline and consists of 81,000 acres of lake surface. There are nearly 30 species of fish in the lake now, thanks to on-going grass roots efforts to stock it with trout and "kokanee" (landlocked sockeye salmon). Plan a trip to this sunny oasis.

Skagit Valley
Spring in Western Washington is traditionally ushered in each year by a spectacular burst of color from the tulip and daffodil fields that fill the Skagit Valley. Communities throughout the area welcome its arrival with special festivals and celebrations. Bring a camera, old shoes for walking in the fields, and an umbrella, in case of an occasional rain shower. Visitors can stroll through display gardens, choose from the varieties that are featured, and then order bulbs for the following spring directly from the growers. Plan to make a day of it; tour the valley via auto, charter bus, or bike; then shop and dine in the nearby towns of La Conner, Mount Vernon, and Anacortes. Over the years this event has grown in popularity; weekends are peak times, so it's best to visit midweek when the crowds are down. This is a great way to get into the spirit of Spring!

Skyline Divide Trail
n the Mount Baker area this day hike offers some of the best vistas to be had from high in the North Cascades; add this trek to your agenda. Take SR 542 to 1 mile beyond the town of Glacier; turn right on the Glacier Creek Road, and then about 100 yards beyond turn sharply onto Dead Horse Road (No. 3907); follow the south side of the Nooksack River about 4 miles, where it then begins an abrupt climb; at 7.5 miles there will be a waterfalls; at 12 miles is the parking lot and trailhead. Beginning at the 4000' elevation, the climb will go from moderate to steep, but the rewards will be well worth the effort. After hiking 2 miles through forests of silver firs and subalpine glades, you will come to a great mountain meadow where to the south the vast glaciers of the north wall of Mt. Baker can be seen. Look north over the Nootsack Valley and view Church Mountain and the jagged pinnacles of the Border Peaks. On a clear day the San Juans, the Vancouver Island mountains, and the British Columbia Coast Range can all be seen. Continue along the trail 3/4 of a mile along the ridge and around to the far side of the knoll to the south; walk up to the top of the knoll (elevation 6,215'). Here you can stand knee deep in wildflowers and get an awesome view of the icy Mount Baker. Round trip to the knoll is 6 miles and should take about 4 hours. The best time to make the hike is from August to October. Backpackers can continue on and explore from basecamps in the Smith and Chowder Basins. Enjoy, and remember to pack out every scrap you take in.

Yakima Rim Skyline Trail
One of Washington's most spectacular displays of wildflowers can be seen as early as mid-March high along the grassy slopes above the Yakima Canyon in the L.T. Murray Wildlife Recreation Area. This region is distinguished by a series of great basalt-capped ridges and deep troughs collectively referred to as the Yakima Folds; ridges uplifted and folded millions of years ago probably in connection to the geotectonic events that led to formation of the Cascade Range. A nine-mile round-trip day hike will not only reward you with a colorful array of desert flowers, but affords an excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing and bird-watching. Enjoy vistas of Mount Adams to the southwest, Mount Rainier and the Cascades to the west, and the Yakima River to the east. Overnighters can continue on the 18-mile trail, but will need to either double back or use a car shuttle. Water is scarce, so be sure to carry an adequate supply. Remember to respect the land and pack out all that you carry in. From I-82, just north of Yakima, take the Firing Center exit (#26), proceed west on Canyon Road for .7 miles to Harrison Road, and turn left; after 2 miles turn right onto North Wenas Road; after 2.8 miles it will curve sharply to the left - continue straight onto a dirt road (Gibson Rd.); within a quarter of a mile turn right (east) onto Buffalo Road; continue 2.75 miles past farms and through grasslands to a parking area above the trailhead.

Washington State Capitol
While much controversy was initially waged over the permanent site for Washington's capital, Olympia managed to rise above all bids for this coveted distinction and remain its only seat of government. Completed in 1927, the grand Legislative House is one of the last great domed capitols built in America. Granite, quarried near the town of Index, is the element of its foundation and the forty-two broad steps that lead up to its entrance - signifying Washington's place in the chronology of American statehoods. This massive, yet classically designed, working monument is faced in sandstone from the Cascade foothills, crowned by a 30 million pound dome that rises 287 feet above the ground, and embellished with Corinthian columns and symbolic ornamental carvings. The elegant "Angels of Mercy" chandelier, designed by Louis Tiffany - one of his last major commissions - is suspended 101 feet from the top of the rotunda. Set on a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound and surrounded by grounds of lush lawns and giant old shade trees, Washington's capitol seems a fitting legacy to its rugged frontier heritage and lofty ideals. Stroll through artfully manicured gardens spotted with statuary and special war memorials, visit the Temple of Justice - the State's Supreme Court Building, and relax among the flora in the Conservatory. The Legislative Building is open daily, with free guided tours; call (360) 586-8687. A Visitor Information Center at 14th and Capitol Way offers information about the Capitol grounds and the surrouding area of Olympia; call (360) 586-3460.

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