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Archive for washington state

Alpine Glory Near Seattle

By Linda Tancs

The jagged peaks of Washington State’s North Cascades National Park are crowned by glaciers—more than 300, the most of any national park outside Alaska. The park’s ecosystem is diverse, from the temperate rainforest of the west side to the dry ponderosa pines of the east. Another of its charms is the concentration of old-growth western red cedar trees, some estimated to be over 1,000 years old. You can find them on hikes like the one to Big Beaver Trail, which will take you through a long, glacier-carved valley. During the summer months you’ll find a variety of companies offering tours of the area, including ranger-led tours. The park is located less than three hours from Seattle.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Stewards of Mount Rainier

By Linda Tancs

Washington’s Mount Rainier stands sentinel over the landscape at 14,410 feet. It’s not only an active volcano but also the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S., spawning five major rivers. The Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island and Yakama people are the original stewards of the land, with archaeological evidence tracing Native use of the area back 9,000 years. Now a bustling national park, 97% of its area has been designated as wilderness by Congress. Stretching for 378 square miles, the park has five developed areas, with three visitor centers, a museum and several wilderness and climbing centers and ranger stations. Its features include subalpine meadows, the temperate rainforest environment at Carbon River and Mowich Lake, the largest and deepest lake in the park. Wherever you roam, take advantage of the numerous day hikes offered along 260 miles of maintained trails.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Seattle’s Hidden Treasure

By Linda Tancs

There’s a side to Seattle, Washington, that you definitely haven’t seen. That’s because it’s hidden underground, a city entombed when the locale rebuilt on top of itself after the Great Fire of 1889. The result is a series of interconnecting tunnels revealing subterranean storefronts and sidewalks with plenty of stories to tell. You can experience it via a 75-minute underground tour beginning beneath Doc Maynard’s Public House and ending at Rogues Gallery. The easiest way to get there is by bus or light rail.

The Rewards of Rain in Washington

By Linda Tancs

Some locales, like Seattle, Washington, are known for their rainy disposition. But, oh, the rewards. Consider Washington State’s Hoh Rainforest, the recipient of 14 feet of rain each year. The result is one of the world’s lushest rainforests—a green canopy of coniferous and deciduous species bursting with mosses and ferns. Located on the west side of Olympic National Park, it’s one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park’s most popular destinations. The visitor center is located at the end of Upper Hoh Road, where you’ll find some easy trails, like Hall of the Mosses and Spruce Nature Trail.

The Pacific Crest Trail

By Linda Tancs

One of the original national scenic trails established by Congress in the 1968 National Trails System Act, the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail generally runs along the high crests of the Sierra and Cascades mountain ranges. Beginning in southern California at the Mexican border, the trail marks a total distance of 2,650 miles through California (passing through five state parks), Oregon, and Washington until reaching the Canadian border. The trail is open to the public from April to September for foot and equestrian travel only. About 200 people attempt to hike the length of the trail each season, generally starting at the Mexican border and ending at the Canadian border. Only a few equestrians have ever ridden the entire trail.

Rainbows in the Valley

By Linda Tancs

Washington State’s Skagit Valley is prized for its mountain and river views, but at this special time of year it’s the rainbow-colored pastures brimming with tulips that draw crowds from every state and almost 100 countries. The perennial, bulbous plant is celebrated month-long in April at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. You will need a map of the tulip field area to help you navigate as the fields’ locations change every year due to crop rotation. Designed as a driving tour, the tulips are generally grown in a 15-mile triangle bordered by Highway 20, the Skagit River and the Swinomish Channel.

Art Under Glass

By Linda Tancs

Chihuly Garden and Glass is a sculptural oasis in Seattle, Washington. Its centerpiece is the Glasshouse, a 40-foot-tall, glass and steel conservatory hosting a 100-foot-long suspended floral sculpture in eye-popping hues of red, orange, yellow and amber. You can learn more about the artist, Dale Chihuly, at the eight galleries and three drawing walls that offer a comprehensive collection of his work. Outdoors, the lush landscape is equally matched by floral installations. The facility is located next to the Space Needle (spectacularly visible inside the Glasshouse) at Seattle Center.

 

Dayton’s Historic Depot

By Linda Tancs

The Dayton Depot is the oldest surviving train depot in Washington State. Originally built in 1881, it was moved to its current location at Commercial Street in 1889. Designed in the fashionable Stick/Eastlake style, it still boasts original bead board walls typical of that era. Now a museum, revolving exhibits are featured in the upstairs gallery.

King of the Nutcrackers

By Linda Tancs

Boasting one of the world’s largest nutcracker collections, the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum in Washington State touts the evolution of the nutcracker. Such a collection would hardly be complete without the hundreds of traditional toy soldiers with gaping mouths that make their appearance in homes at Christmas time. But you’ll also find over 6,000 nutcrackers—representing the work of over 50 countries—carved from wood, metal, ivory, porcelain and other materials. Their designs, both simplistic and artistic, run the gamut from serious to whimsical, ecclesiastical to risqué and menacing to cute. Visitors from over 75 countries have been greeted by Karl, a 6-foot-tall Bavarian nutcracker carved in Oberammergau.

Under the Blanket of Snow

By Linda Tancs

Hurricane Ridge is the most easily accessed mountain area within Olympic National Park in Washington State. Blanketed with over 10 feet of snow for most of the winter, snow enthusiasts enjoy the winter scenery, along with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding. The snow moles, on the other hand, enjoy their privacy. Endemic to the park, Olympic snow moles are scurrying beneath this blanket of snow, which provides them with ample water for the short summer season ahead.

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