Explore Washington’s Backyard


Experience Washington has launched a new inspirational tool for your summer adventures! ‘Explore Washington’s Backyard” has little-known and fun excursions for everyone in the family, intended to get you safely out of the house and ready to explore the incredible diversity our state has to offer. Organized by the eleven regions of the state, this is a great resource for discovering new places to explore, both in your own region, and across the rest of the state as well. 


If you are a Volcanoes Region adventurer, consider a quick trip to see the Grove of the Patriarchs at Mt. Rainier National Park. Visitors can experience the beauty and complexity of an old-growth forest during this little self-guided outing. Breath in the fresh air, smell the mossy forest, and experience trees bigger than you ever imagined.


For a magical excursion in The Peninsulas Region, check out the Dungeness Spit and National Wildlife Refuge. Bald eagles, harbor seals,rough-skinned newts - all these and more species can be seen on an observant hike in this amazing location.


If you’re longing to explore near the ocean, the Beaches Region Discovery Trail is a perfect choice. The 8.5 mile Lewis & Clark commemorative trail terminates at the north end of Long Beach with an 18-foot bronze tree and winds south to Beard’s Hollow climbing over the cape and into downtown Ilwaco. Interpretive displays and sculptures dot the trail.


The Metro Puget Sound Region features The Incredible Bellevue Botanical Garden for the plant-lovers among us. It is a 53-acre area that includes a variety of gardens. From alpine rocks, dahlias, fuchsias, and groundcovers to Lost Meadow Trail, native discovery, perennial borders, a water-wise garden, and the Yao Japanese garden - there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to check out the new bridge that ventures over a ravine!


The Mt Erie Overlook in the Salish Sea region can be reached by trekking up the trail to the summit, or by driving via the roadway for easier access. Take in the panorama across the valley of the farmlands, waterways, and smaller hilltops. An interpretative sign identifies the landmarks that are visible below from this bird’s-eye-view.


An adventure in the Islands Region must include the beach! Double Bluff Beach is a beautiful south and west facing spot. Great views - but more importantly, it's dog-friendly! Complete with a “doggie shower”, once you’re further out on the beach leashes are optional for our well-behaved canine friends.


For the hiking enthusiast, the Trails & Lakes region has hundreds of options to choose from. One gem is the Chelan Butte - you can choose either a long or short hill hike, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views from Chelan Butte on this hike. It’s well worth making it to the end, plus you might see some paragliders in this world-famous spot. 


If you’re expanding your backyard in the Ponderosa Region, stop by Sweet Creek Rest Area and Falls. This 38-acre natural area is situated on the North Pend Oreille Scenic Byway and the Selkirk Loop. The highlights of the area are three waterfalls; the lowest waterfall is located just a short walk from the parking area. A few private picnicking spots are spread out along the trail as well, with the first portion being paved for easier access for everyone.

For a little collection of easy to moderate trails, stop by the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in the Palouse Region. Frog Lake Interpretive Trail is the longest of these four trails, at 3 miles long with a 200’ elevation gain. Although Frog Lake no longer exists, the trail meanders past unique basalt formations and ascends to the mesa for a panoramic view of the whole landscape.

If you’re looking for something near your backyard in Wine Country, Walla Walla has a neat place for people to get outdoors near to the city. Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake Recreation Area was started as a protection project during flash flooding in the area. Now it is a beautiful spot to sit on a park bench, watch local birds, and listen to the sounds of rushing water. You can even pull out your row boat and try to catch a rainbow trout! 


Are you open to a challenging exploration in the Gorge Region? One of the newest hiking trails in Skamania County, Cape Horn Trail stretches 7 miles, gains 1300 ft, and earns the level of Most Difficult. But - It is well worth it. Incredible views of the Columbia River Gorge, getting up close and personal with Cape Horn Falls, plus the great workout climbing and descending the rocky crags of the Cape Horn will leave you with beautiful memories of a breathtaking day.

For more information on these adventures and more, visit Explore Washington’s Backyard. Your backyard is bigger than you think! Explore what your region and county has to offer, while making new memories and returning to the outdoors. Don’t forget to #recreateresponsibly!