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A Wealth Of Beauty, History Awaits In Washington State Parks

There are few places as wild, ecologically diverse, and full of historical mystery as the Pacific Northwest in the upper left corner of the continental U.S. Once, the region was simply a dream, uncharted and unexplored, like North America itself before Christopher Columbus set sail in the late 15th century.

The region’s history, its untamed majesty, and its unrivaled struggle to be settled are perhaps best personified in the story of its farthest-flung state: Washington.

The story of the Evergreen State is quite literally the oldest one told in North America. The oldest and most complete human remains can be found here, known as Kennewick Man, dating back some 9,300 years.

It seems only fitting that the state named after the first American president should be chock full of historical value. Spanish explorers first arrived on its western shores in the late 18th century. Pioneers and adventurers followed on foot from the East just a few decades later, drawn by the promise of a new horizon and a fresh canvas upon which to paint their dreams.

What a canvas it was and is still today! Washington stands alone in sheer natural beauty in addition to this wealth of history, and this beauty and history can be found and learned from in one of its many diverse State Parks.

Below are some of the highlights of a region full of them:

Rainbow Falls State Park: The magic is right there in the park’s name. The titular falls near Chehalis, WA, are the main attraction, of course, with hikers, bikers, and campers coming for miles around to commune with the clear rushing waters. However, this site is also a favorite of tree lovers, with a wealth of Douglas fir, western red cedar, and western hemlock trees populating its grounds. Stroll along the miles of trails or simply dip a toe in the cool waters and enjoy the quiet of the surrounding Washington wilderness. There is something for everyone at Rainbow Falls!

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Mount Spokane State Park: According to the Washington State Parks website, visitors can hike for days and not see the same view at this spot. One of Washington’s oldest State Parks, this gem of the Northwest boasts more than 100 miles of hiking trails through the Selkirk Mountains and some of the best views anywhere in the region. While hiking is a popular activity in the warmers months, the winter is when the area really shines for cross-country skiers and sledders. The biggest attraction is the chance to gaze out at one of the many stunning vistas of the Spokane Valley, where visitors can see into Idaho to the east and Canada to the west. This site is uniquely Northwestern as they come and can’t be missed.

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Cape Disappointment State Park: Don’t be fooled by the downer of a name. There is so much to learn and experience at this incredible coastal destination, especially for history buffs and maritime enthusiasts. Named after Captain John Meares’ failed expedition to find the Columbia River, a lighthouse stands on the point in the heart of the park. The Lewis & Clark Center offers a bevy of knowledge and provides an opportunity to learn about the park and its complex history, and the hiking trails through the tidelands and sea marshes are unlike anything in the surrounding area. Visitors also enjoy taking advantage of the whipping ocean winds off of the Pacific for kite-flying on the beaches of Cape Disappointment. There is a little something for everyone at this Washington gem!

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