4 National Parks Within Driving Distance of Monroe, WA
There’s no shortage of natural wonders around the Puget Sound, which is a great thing for Monroe residents. Whenever you feel the urge to get back to nature, hop in the car and drive to any one of these beloved national parks.
1. Olympic National Park
Two and a half hours from Seattle via ferry, Olympic National Park consists of nearly one million acres of varying ecosystems, including rainforests, glacier-capped mountains, and old-growth forests. There are no roads that cross the park, however, so plan your trip accordingly, and pack everything you need for your entire stay.
Seasonal lodgings are available inside the park, but most visitors come here to backpack, making this an idea national park for wilderness camping. Other activities include fishing, climbing, boating, tide-pooling, and participating in the ranger program.
2. Mount Rainier National Park
Just a two-hour drive from Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park is one of Washington State’s most iconic. The active volcano, Mount Rainier, spawns six rivers and is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States. Combine that with the park’s abundant wildlife and rich ecosystem, and you’ve got the destination for exploring Mother Nature’s wonders.
This park offers five developed areas that can serve as bases for your adventure. Each one varies in its offerings, but you can easily find lodging, visitor centers, campgrounds, restaurants, and picnic areas. Mount Rainier National Park also offers seasonal range-led programs.
3. North Cascades National Park
Located less than three hours from Seattle, North Cascades National Park boasts more than 300 glaciers, making it one of the more unique park experiences. The mountains in this park are relatively new, which has attracted geological research. Stop by one of the visitor centers to listen to an informative talk by one of the rangers before heading out to view the wildlife.
If you’re planning to stay active during your visit, try biking along the scenic North Cascades Highway. The park also offers a number of hiking trails, and many visitors choose to raft down the river when the weather is nice.
4. Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Situated between Mount Rainier National Park and the Canadian border, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest extends for more than 140 miles. Because of its sheer size spanning multiple counties, this forest is one of the most visited in the country. If you need more reason than that to visit, consider the forest’s many historical and scenic points of interest, including snow fields, glaciers, and the area’s long-standing mining and logging history.
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is also home to about 800 lakes. One of the larger reservoirs, Baker Lake, even produces hydroelectricity for the locals. All of these lakes also mean something else: plenty of recreational opportunities.
When you want to get away from the daily grind and get back to nature, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better alternatives than these national parks and forests. Plan your trip carefully, pack the essentials, and get in the car and drive. You’ll be thankful you did.
Image via Pixabay