With 3 nationals parks, countless lakes, hiking trails, and several mountain ranges, Washington State has more to offer than most. Few places can you cross-country or downhill ski, then stop for a scuba dive in the ocean on the same day. As a photographer living in Seattle, Randy Bott’s fine art galleries show how amazing photography in Washington State can be. From Mountains and the Milky Way Galaxy to the rolling hills of the Palouse, Washington State landscapes stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Idaho border.
After starting my photography journey, I realized how beautiful Washington State can be. I began researching photography locations around the state and spend a lot of time in my car. But who doesn't like a good road trip a few times a year? It's a great way to get out of the city and explore the wonderful state I live in.
Olympic National Park/Hoh Rainforest
Olympic National Park takes up most of the land and beaches on the west coast of the state. On June 29, 1938, Mount Olympus National Monument became Olympic National Park. At the time, there were 22 other national parks in the United States. In the heart of the park stands Mount Olympus at 7,956 feet above sea level. This mountain is only visible from Hurricane Ridge and other tall peaks. It’s hidden from the surrounding cities.
Inside the Olympic National Park is the famous Hoh Rainforest. This includes 24 miles of low elevation forest along the Hoh River. This temperate rainforest once spanned from southeast Alaska to northern California. Found on the west side of Olympic National Park, it’s one of the wettest places on earth. The main trail follows the Hoh river and whether you’re doing an easy day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip, the Hoh Rainforest has something for everyone.
Some of the best hikes in Olympic National Park are the Hot Rainforest with the Hall of Mosses, Hurricane Ridge, Quinault Rainforest, and Sol Duc Falls. These hikes vary in length but all are great for the entire family. No roads enter the heart of Olympic National Park so hiking trails are the only way to see the real beauty of this park.
Several beaches are in the park as well. These are carefully named First beach, Second beach, and Third Beach. Second and Third beaches get a lot of overnight campers during the summer since there is a fresh water stream draining to the ocean. These are in the park so you need a permit and a bear can for food. This is to keep the raccoons and other small critters out of your food.
Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, attracting visitors from all over the world. Located in the state of Washington, Mount Rainier is a 14,411-foot volcano that dominates the skyline of the Pacific Northwest. The park offers a range of activities for visitors, including hiking, camping, and scenic drives. In this article, we'll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Mount Rainier National Park to help you plan your visit.
What is Mount Rainier National Park known for?
Mount Rainier National Park is known for its iconic peak, Mount Rainier, which is the highest mountain in the state of Washington. The park also features numerous glaciers, waterfalls, and alpine meadows, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
What are some of the best hiking trails in Mount Rainier National Park?
Mount Rainier National Park has over 260 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to strenuous treks. Some of the most popular hiking trails in the park include:
Skyline Trail: This 5.5-mile trail takes you through alpine meadows and offers stunning views of Mount Rainier.
Wonderland Trail: This 93-mile trail encircles Mount Rainier and offers a challenging backpacking experience.
Naches Peak Loop: This 3.5-mile trail offers panoramic views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding area.
What is the best time of year to visit Mount Rainier National Park?
The best time to visit Mount Rainier National Park is during the summer months, from late June to early September. During this time, the weather is usually mild, and most of the park's facilities are open. However, visitors should be prepared for crowds, as this is the park's busiest season.
Mount Rainier National Park History
Mount Rainier National Park was established in 1899, making it one of the oldest national parks in the United States. The park's namesake, Mount Rainier, is an active volcano that stands at an elevation of 14,411 feet above sea level. The park encompasses over 236,000 acres of wilderness, including old-growth forests, alpine meadows, and glaciers.
Longmire: A Historic Destination
Longmire is a historic destination within Mount Rainier National Park. Named after James Longmire, an early settler in the area, the site was once home to a hotel and mineral springs that were believed to have healing properties. Today, visitors can explore the historic district, which includes the original Longmire Hotel, the Longmire Museum, and the Wilderness Information Center.
Best Places to Stay Near Mount Rainier National Park
There are several great places to stay near Mount Rainier National Park, ranging from rustic cabins to luxurious lodges. Some of the top options include:
Paradise Inn: This historic lodge is located in the heart of the park, offering stunning views of Mount Rainier and easy access to hiking trails.
National Park Inn: Located in Longmire, this cozy lodge is a great option for those looking to explore the park's historic district.
Cedar Creek Treehouse: For a unique and unforgettable experience, consider staying in a treehouse near the park. The Cedar Creek Treehouse is located just a short drive from the park entrance.
Discovering the Beauty of the Palouse
The Palouse is a region of Washington State known for its rolling hills, fertile farmland, and stunning natural beauty. Whether you're a photographer, nature lover, or just looking for a unique travel destination, the Palouse is a must-see destination. Here's what you need to know before you go.
What is the Palouse Known For?
The Palouse is primarily known for its agriculture and stunning landscapes. The region is home to some of the most fertile farmland in the country, with fields of wheat, lentils, and peas stretching as far as the eye can see. The rolling hills and colorful fields make the Palouse a popular destination for photographers, who come from all over the world to capture the beauty of the region.
Where is the Palouse Region of Washington?
The Palouse is located in southeastern Washington and extends into parts of Idaho and Oregon. The region is roughly bounded by the Snake River to the south, the Clearwater River to the north, and the Cascade Range to the west. The largest city in the Palouse region is Pullman, which is home to Washington State University.
When Should I Visit the Palouse?
The best time to visit the Palouse depends on your interests and preferences. Here are some things to consider:
Spring: The Palouse is particularly beautiful in the spring when the fields are a vibrant green and wildflowers are in bloom. This is also a great time for birdwatching, as many species migrate through the region.
Summer: Summer is the peak season in the Palouse, with warm temperatures and long days. This is a great time for hiking, biking, and exploring the region's many small towns.
Fall: The Palouse is known for its stunning fall colors, with fields of wheat turning a golden brown and trees changing hues. This is also a great time for wine tasting, as many local wineries have harvest events.
Winter: While winter in the Palouse can be cold and snowy, it's also a great time for winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing. Some of the region's small towns also host holiday events and festivals.
North Cascades National Park
The North Cascades National Park is one of the best places on earth. There are over 400 miles of hiking trails, countless peaks, lakes, rivers, and visitor centers. Most of the park doesn’t have trails or roads, so the only way in is to use a map, compass, and bushwhacking. The major attractions are Diablo and Ross Lakes. A ferry runs along the shore of Ross lake to drop hikers at trailheads. There are 19 boat-in campsites along Ross Lake and a backcountry permit is required for each site, so plan ahead.
North Cascades National Park is home to the rugged north and south Picket Mountains. A subrange in the northern area of the park can be seen from the top of Trappers Peak which is a great day hike. What’s great about the Picket range is trails don’t exist. If you want to go there, put in the work. This is great for a lot of climbers since few will put in the work. Maybe the names of the peaks scare people away. Names like Phantom Peak, Mount Fury, Mount Challenger, and Ghost Peak to name a few. A great way to see the park is by driving the North Cascades Highway in the summer. It’s closed in the winter and opens sometime in June during most years. The highway goes past Diablo and Ross Lakes with several viewpoints. This is one park that should not be missed if you’re in the Pacific Northwest.
Explore the Spectacular Beauty of Artist's Point in Washington State
One of the most awe-inspiring locations in Washington State is Artist's Point, nestled between the majestic peaks of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. Situated at the terminus of Hwy 542, famously known as the Mount Baker Highway, this breathtaking destination offers unrivaled natural beauty and a plethora of outdoor activities. With its panoramic vistas encompassing Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, American Border Peak, Canada, and numerous other peaks and valleys, Artist's Point captivates visitors with its awe-inspiring scenery. Several Milky Way photographs in the Mountains and the Night Sky gallery are from Artist's Point. It's about 2.5 hours to the end of Hwy 542 from Seattle if you don't get stuck in traffic.
Unparalleled Views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan
Prepare to be enchanted by the unparalleled views that await you at Artist's Point. With its strategic location amidst the towering Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, this destination offers a visual feast for nature enthusiasts. The rugged beauty of these iconic peaks, combined with the surrounding landscape, creates a breathtaking panorama that will leave you in awe. Whether you are an avid photographer or simply a lover of natural wonders, Artist's Point promises an unforgettable experience.
Year-Round Attractions at Artist's Point
Artist's Point is a year-round haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a myriad of attractions for every season. During the winter months, the nearby Mt. Baker ski area provides exhilarating opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. The powdery slopes and stunning alpine scenery create a winter wonderland for snow enthusiasts. Additionally, the region boasts excellent snowshoeing trails that wind through the pristine winter landscapes, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature.
A Haven for Astro Photography
For astrophotography enthusiasts, Artist's Point offers a celestial haven like no other. The pristine mountain backdrop, devoid of light pollution, creates an ideal setting for capturing the wonders of the night sky. Numerous photographers have immortalized the ethereal beauty of the Milky Way from this vantage point, showcasing the perfect harmony between the celestial spectacle and the majestic mountains. The Mountains and the Night Sky gallery proudly features several awe-inspiring Milky Way photographs captured at Artist's Point, testament to the captivating allure of this location.
Mount Saint Helens
May 18, 1980, Mount Saint Helens erupted and became the deadliest and most economically destructive event in American history. Since then, the area has made an incredible comeback. You can see the destructive power from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The observatory was named after David Johnston who was camped on the ridge when the volcano erupted. Unfortunately, David was never found. The many trails on the ridge are full of wildflowers in late spring and summer with an amazing view of the mountain (or what's left of it). On the east side of the mountain is the Cascade Peaks Interpretive Center with more hikes and wildflowers. This side of the mountain looks over Spirit Lake from the Windy Ridge Viewpoint which is famous for all the debris after the eruption. Mount Saint Helens is a must stop for anyone driving through the Pacific Northwest. For those adventurous types, you can hike the 32 mile Loowit Trail that goes around the mountain. Bring lots of water and something to shade you from the sun. There is very little water and trees so be prepared.
On the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge are several waterfalls worth mentioning. Lewis River Falls is one of the best since in the summer the large, flat rocks just under the surface are great areas to sit on and stay cool. There is a trail that goes from the lower falls to the middle, then the upper falls. One of the best waterfalls for photography is Spirit Falls. Located near the Columbia River and White Salmon, the water is blue in the spring which goes great with the green foliage. It's a bit difficult to get to so be careful on the walk down. Another one many people like is Falls Creek Falls. I struggle trying to photograph this one. While it's great to see, I have never seen an image I really liked from this location. A great website for finding waterfalls is waterfallsnorthwest.com
Skagit Valley Tulips
Skagit Valley, located in the northwest region of Washington state, is home to some of the most vibrant and stunning tulip fields in the world. Every year, visitors from all over the world flock to the area to see the iconic Skagit Valley tulips in bloom. In this article, we'll explore the history of the Skagit Valley tulips, when to visit, and some of the best things to do in the area.
The History of Skagit Valley Tulips
The history of the Skagit Valley tulips dates back to the 1940s when the Washington Bulb Company began growing tulips in the area. Over the years, the company expanded its operations, and today, Skagit Valley is one of the largest tulip-growing regions in the world. The annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival began in 1984 as a way to celebrate the beauty of the tulips and has since become a popular springtime event.
When to Visit Skagit Valley for Tulips
The best time to visit Skagit Valley for tulips is typically from late March to early May, depending on the weather. The tulips usually bloom for three to four weeks during this time, and the exact timing can vary from year to year. To get the most out of your visit, it's a good idea to check the bloom status before you go.
Views of the City
Living the largest city in Washington, Seattle offers many great photography locations. The most famous is the view from Kerry Park. From this location, the Space Needle and Mount Rainier are in the same image. Cotton Candy Sunset was taken from this location. Another great spot in the city is the view from Jose Rizal Bridge. Although you can't see the Space Needle from this location, it offers the best sunset view in the summer as the sun sets behind the city. If you want views of the waterfront, Alki Beach has the best skyline view. All of downtown can be seen. This location is great for Panorama views like Downtown Seattle Panorama. You can find more views of the city by spending a few days exploring the area.
Washington state has countless areas to create amazing photographs. Too many locations for a single post. With 3 national parks, The Palouse, Cascade mountains, and many other areas, it’s hard to photograph them all. It wasn’t until I got into photography that I learned about many of the locations. If you ever get the chance to visit the Pacific Northwest, take several days and explore this amazing state. It will not disappoint.