Order a Visitors' GuideFill Your WAnderlust! - Order a Free Visitors' Guide

State of Extremes

Alpine to zip line, adrenaline-inducing adventures abound in Washington. Here’s where to get your heart pumping.

By Lora Shinn

A young woman hikes along a ridge-top with Mt. Rainier behind
— Photo by Danny Warren

Home to more than 100 mountains, the state is a climber’s win for wildflower-encircled lakes and cloud-kissed heights. A-list experiences include technical challenges on Mount Rainier; active volcano Mount St. Helens is more like a (very) strenuous hike.

Learn More — The Mountaineers; mountaineers.org

Pacific Ocean storms bring heart-throttling waves right to the coastal community of Westport (see map p. 76). Slip into a neoprene suit (water temps here hover at 45–63 Fahrenheit) and try to hold onto your surfboard at Westhaven State Park, Half Moon Bay, and Finger Jetties. Westport’s annual Clean Water Classic (cleanwater classic.com) brings surfers together to help preserve oceans. Learn more: Steepwater Surf Shop; steepwatersurf shop.com

Learn More — Steepwater Surf Shop; steepwatersurfshop.com.

On belay! At the 400-foottall Frenchman Coulee (p. 100), hang out in your harness from spectacular columns shaped like feathers, remnants from the last ice age. Today, Central Washington’s warm summer skies provide the perfect backdrop as lithe climbers choose from more than 700 routes and shake their own tail feathers.

Learn More — The Mountaineers; mountaineers.org

“It’s an amazing, epic mountain biking opportunity up there,” says Glenn Glover, executive director of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, of Eastern Washington’s Colville National Forest (p. 118). Enjoy thrills along dozens of routes, including Old Stage Trail #1, the forest trail system’s only wagon trail.

Learn More — Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance; evergreenmtb.org

The Columbia River’s western winds and eastern currents aren’t at odds. Rather, they create a playground for windsurfers and kiteboarders alike. Enjoy views of the Columbia Gorge’s basalt faces from popular water spots, including Bob’s Beach and East Point, near Stevenson (p. 94).

Learn More — Cascade Kiteboarding; cascadekiteboarding.com

Family float trips (so calm you can picnic during them) and paddle-for-your-life white-knucklers are both available to experience on the Wenatchee River (p. 100). Ride the rapids with a guide beneath a sunblazed sky, take photos of river-visiting wildlife, and enjoy the Wenatchee’s roller-coaster drops and pools.

Learn More — Osprey Rafting; ospreyrafting.com, and Alpine Adventures;alpineadventures.com/wenatchee.html

Nowhere is underwater diving’s otherworldly appeal more strange and dreamlike than in the deep bluegreen of Puget Sound. Snoop on giant Pacific octopi, wolf eels, rock fish, anemones, and other below-the-surface denizens— along with half of a bridge that sank back in 1979—in the fjord Hood Canal, near Poulsbo (p. 76).

Learn More — Hood Sport ’n’ Dive; hoodsportndive.com, and Pacific Adventure; pacadventure.com

Don’t think about it. Just don a helmet, strap into a harness, and let go. Whir through a rain-forest canopy above wetlands and understory as the wind whistles past your ears. (Tip: tuck your knees to increase speed.) At Zip San Juan (p. 70), guides offer eight different family-friendly routes for two- to three-hour aerial “hikes” through fi rs and redwood cedars via 50-foot-tall platforms. Meanwhile, down by Mount Rainier, Northwest Trek offers four different courses, from kid-friendly lines for ages 6 and up to an extreme course for adults.

Learn More — Zip San Juan; zipsanjuan.com, and Northwest Trek; nwtrek.org

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *