There are three national parks in Washington, plus a number of national historic sites and other federally managed areas.
Washington’s most iconic park, Mount Rainier, is family-friendly and easily accessible from Seattle. You’ll find plenty of options for day hikes and comfortable visitors’ centers. It’s basically your no-hassle wilderness experience. (Related: Tips for a COVID-era family day trip to Mount Rainier.)
Update, fall 2022: Due to staffing shortages, the road to Paradise is only open on the weekends during the winter season. The plan is for access to Paradise to be open on weekend; however, the snow-play area there will not be available.
Day trippers, take note: Mount Rainier is so popular that it can be difficult to get in on weekend mornings. This is especially true in the summer and fall. The Nisqually entrance can see traffic backups of an hour or more. Pro tip: Follow the park’s Twitter account for updates. Another pro tip: Don’t go on Saturday morning.
Olympic National Park is more remote; it’s known for its old-growth rainforest and miles of rocky beaches. However, it’s also got the Olympic Mountains and spectacular Hurricane Ridge, which can be a winter or summer adventure.
North Cascades National Park is best suited for visitors up for challenging hikes. But what a payoff: sweeping vistas of the Cascade Mountains, Washington’s natural beauty at its best.
Originally published March 31, 2019
More on national parks in Washington:
Also, all fourth-graders (and their families) are eligible to get a free national park pass, plus it’s ridiculously easy to get.
Additional national park sites: