So many times, I’ve heard of people wanting to travel outside of the US, before exploring the wonders of this very country. I was once that person, but I have discovered that there is so much beauty so close to our homes.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and never realized that it is a prized area to live until I chose to explore it. Here are my favorite places I would recommend to anyone wanting to explore the outdoors of the PNW.
Here are the places to check out in the state of Washington:
Olympic National Park
The Olympic National Park is a broad place to mention, but every waterfall and every trail at this park is unlike any other in Washington state. There are waterfalls every ten miles or less (my favorite is Rocky Brook Falls), it is full of temperate rainforests and located so close to the beautiful salt waters of Washington.
Vance Creek Bridge
This 422 feet long famous railroad hovers 347 feet over Vance Creek and is located right outside the Olympic National Forest. It is the second highest railway in the US. Directions to this cannot be found on Google maps, possibly because it is considered trespassing on land owned by a logging company and there are many ways they have tried to keep hikers out, like signs, knocked down trees and gates.
The bridge is in Shelton, you’ll take NF-1700 for a while before turning onto NF-23, where it is right off to the right. You’ll see lots of knocked down trees and a gate near the entrance. Many of the articles I read made it seem like it was dangerous to go and you could be arrested, but I did not run into any cops, any logging trucks or security of any sort. The hike is about a mile long, but not difficult and well worth it! The bridge is spectacular, surrounded by trees and covered in art by the last rebel hikers. It’s an adrenaline rush to walk on this massive abandoned railroad, surrounded by trees. The beginning portion of the bridge has been taken down, though you can still reach the wooden part of the bridge if your brave enough! I recommend anyone to see this bridge before it is totally demolished.
Unfortunately, I am yet to see this amazing waterfall, but it is next on my to-do list. It is a wide, gorgeous waterfall located in the south/east portion of Mt. Rainier National Forest.
This waterfall is one of Washington’s largest. Located in Lacrosse, in west eastern, WA. You can get a stunning view of the enormous waterfall before taking the hike down towards the waterfall that can be difficult at times and has many alternate routes. You’ll see another waterfall before reaching an overlook of Palouse. There is a small trail down to the bottom of the falls, leading into a small lake as well.
This is a wondrous two hike located in North Bend. It starts off at Rattlesnake lake and you hike to the top of a wide ledge, where you can see the bright blue lake from above. It is quiet the site!
Another natural wonder I have yet to see, but will be soon! Cape Flattery has to be one, if not the most beautiful, cape in Washington state. This cape is located on the very top of the state, on the western edge.
Here are the places to check out in the state of Oregon:
I shall admit, the entire route down 101 south through Oregon is absolutely stunning and a must-do summer trip! There is a route right outside of Tillamook, called Three Capes Scenic Route. Unfortunately, I had missed the turn to this route and missed the other two capes, but Cape Kiwanda is quiet possibly Oregon’s most beautiful cape.
It is located in Pacific City, it starts off as a popular beach and you walk up the sandy hills to stand on the cape. There are many signs and gates that tell you that beyond this gate is dangerous, but it is important to keep in mind that Oregon’s Beach Bill states that the people may still roam wherever the please, as the beaches belong to the people.
Tamolich Blue Pool
This is one of my favorite locations in the PNW! The Tamolich Blue Pool used to be a waterfall, but after a volcanic eruption, the waterfall was covered with lava rock. The water now seems from the bottom of the rocks and slows the water down enough to create a clear, still pool that is the most brilliant blue you’ll ever see. It is spectacular!
The blue pool is located off of the Mckenzie Highway and was a little difficult to find, as there are no signs off the highway. You’ll turn on NF-730, which leads to the trailhead, it is a two mile hike and not difficult. You can walk all around the water and there are several places to cliff jump into the frigid water, though you can also walk around to get right into the water.
This magnificent location shares a special place in my heart. Crater lake is in central Oregon and is one the top places to see the in the Pacific Northwest. This lake lies in the Cascade Range, it used to be a volcano named Mount Mazama. This volcano had a massive eruption that caused the mountain to implode on itself, forming a giant crater that filled with rain and snowfall. It is also a magnificent blue and surrounded by gorgeous mountains.
I recommend coming to this place in the early morning. We showed up around 7 AM, when the water was still and there were some clouds in the sky. The reflection of the mountains and the sky coming off of the lake was like pure magic, it took a few moments of staring to really understand where the water started. It was absolutely stunning, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. You can hike many trails at Crater Lake National Park and drive around the entire crater.
There is one area that you can hike a mile down to cliff jump into 2,000 feet deep beautiful water, called Cleetwood Cove and it is an absolute must!
This waterfall is not far from Crater Lake, when leaving the north entrance, it is off Highway 138. The hike is about 1.5 miles and not very difficult. There is a viewpoint that allows you to see the waterfall, but viewpoints are never quiet good enough… So there is a rope next to the main viewpoint area and a sign telling you not to go down to the waterfall, but many have done it anyways. The rope is absolutely necessary, as it is very steep getting down to the falls, but well worth it. The water is the perfect place to swim, but very cold!
One of my favorite Oregon waterfalls! It is about 226 feet tall and flows beautifully, close to the rock wall. The hike is almost two miles and not difficult.
Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor
This is several different pull offs off 101 South in Brookings, OR. Each pull off is so gorgeous, full of capes, and natural arches that you can hike to. It coordinates with the gorgeous Oregon coast trail.
An absolutely magical place, where the desert hills are decorated in vivid color, in central/eastern Oregon. It is an absolute must see and should be a wonder of the world!
Here are the places to check out in the state of California:
This forest is located in many places in northwest California; the tallest trees on Earth, reaching over 300 feet tall! All the forest areas are full of wonder and are a must see right next to the coast! Some trees were at least ten feet in width!
McArthur Burney Falls
This waterfall is one of Earth’s ten wonders of the world and located in northern California near Burney, CA. It spans 250 feet wide with numerous falls, surrounded by luscious forest.
Another stunning waterfall with a wide span, this waterfall trickles against a rock wall, covered in bright green moss. It is a very unique waterfall and I love the way that it flows! It’s located in Dunsmuir, CA.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
This park is covered in colorful desert and also bright blue waters, which makes a gorgeous combination. Full of clear, blue lakes, waterfalls and mountains.
Many people do not consider southern California as the Pacific Northwest, but if it were, I would mention Yosemite National Park and Joshua Tree Park. Both unique and stunning locations.
It is difficult not to mention even more places within the PNW, but the area is covered in natural wonders.