Things To Do In Washington State – National Parks

The US state of Washington is a breathtaking place filled with spectacular natural beauty. The state, located in the Pacific Northwest area of the country, is home to diverse landscapes ranging from lush temperate rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula to snow-capped mountains and volcanoes in the Cascades Range to the high deserts in eastern Washington state.

Given all the scenic backdrops, one of the great things to do in Washington state is to visit the national parks. The state is home to three national parks in total. They are Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and North Cascades National Park.

Olympic National Park

(Photo courtesy of Ralph Arvesen via Flickr)

Olympic National Park is located on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington state. This lush national park has a few distinct environments I would like to note. First, there is the rugged Pacific Ocean shoreline. The shoreline is noted for its tall seastacks, rocky and sandy beaches, and old growth forests. Around seventy miles of the ocean shoreline is covered as a part of Olympic National Park.

Kalaloch and Ruby Beach is a great place to go for a walk along the ocean shoreline. A variety of birds can be found wandering around on this sandy beach including western gulls and bald eagles. Another notable environment found in the national park is the snow-capped Olympic Mountains from which this national park got its name.

The mountains reach as high as 7,962 feet in elevation, making them easily visible from certain spots within the national park. Hurricane Ridge is the easiest area within the mountains to reach. You can reach it by heading on Mount Angeles Road and Hurricane Ridge Road about 17 miles south of Port Angeles. Once you reach up there. You will be treated to some breathtaking views of the national park.

Between the Olympic Mountains and the Pacific Ocean shoreline, you will find the temperate rainforests. This area is known for being the wettest area in the continental United States, averaging a whopping 150 inches of rain per year. This allow mosses and ferns to thrive on the surfaces of the temperate rainforests under lush green canopies of deciduous and coniferous trees.

The Hoh Rainforest is the most famous of the temperate rainforests in the national park and there are multiple hiking trails available throughout this rainforest. The area east of the Olympic Mountains is much drier than the temperate rainforests, averaging around a third of the annual rainfall or so. This area of the national park contain old growth forests of towering Douglas fir trees.

Lakes and rivers are also found within the national park. The entrance fee for Olympic National Park are $30 for vehicles, $25 for motorcycles, and $15 for those arriving on foot or bicycles.

Hotel Suggestion: Olympic Lodge

This hotel is located on Del Guzzi Drive in Port Angeles north of Olympic National Park. This hotel is renowned for its rustic lobby that features a wood-burning fireplace, a chandelier, and artwork. There is also beautiful landscaping on the hotel’s grounds inspired by nearby Olympic National Park. Whistling Frog Restaurant is the hotel’s onsite restaurant.

There is an outdoor heated swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel. A fitness center is also available for your workouts. The hotel’s rooms and suites are beautifully designed with warm wood tones and rustic furnishings. They all come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $148 to $253. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

Mount Rainier National Park

(Photo courtesy of Samuel Kerr via Wikimedia)

Mount Rainier National Park is located about 60 miles southeast of Seattle in the central section of the Cascades Range. The national park is world famous for being the location of snow-capped Mount Rainier – an active volcano. At 14,410 feet high, it is the highest point in Washington state. Mount Rainier is an iconic symbol of the state’s natural beauty.

In fact, when somebody thinks of Washington state, they will probably think of Mount Rainier. The active volcano is ringed by subalpine wildflower meadows. The lower slopes of the active volcano is covered by ancient forests. The national park contains five major rivers and twenty-five major glaciers.

Some of the most notable animals to be found in the national park include Columbian black-tailed deer, Douglas squirrels, Stellar’s jays, and ravens. The national park contains many hiking trails with varying lengths and challenge levels for you to choose from. They are split into five areas of the national park – Longmire, Paradise, Sunrise, Ohanapecosh, and Carbon/Mowich.

The longest hiking trail within the national park is the Wonderland Trail. It lasts for an eye-popping 93 miles and heads in a massive, continuous circle. This is also the most challenging trail to embark on.

You will be gaining and losing a lot of elevation along the way, ranging from 2,815 feet at Maple Creek to 6,245 feet at Sunrise Camp. The entrance fees for Mount Rainier National Park are $30 for vehicles, $25 for motorcycles, and $15 for those arriving by foot or bicycle.

Hotel Suggestion: La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Auburn

This hotel is located on 6th Street SE in Auburn some 50 miles northwest of Mount Rainier National Park. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, a few options for nearby restaurants include Sun Break Cafe, Athens Pizza & Pasta, and Oddfellas Pub & Eatery Auburn. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub available 24 hours per day.

A 24-hour fitness center is also available for you to use at the hotel. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $99 to $179. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

North Cascades National Park

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service/Deby Dixon via Wikimedia)

North Cascades National Park is located near the US and Canada international border within the Cascades Range of Washington state. Out of the three national parks in the state, this is the largest national park at 500,000 acres. The national park is known for its huge number of glaciers on jagged peaks. There are more than three hundred glaciers within the national park.

This results in the national park having the most expansive glacial system in the contiguous United States. The highest point in the national park is Goode Mountain which stand at 9,220 feet high. Many of the glacier-capped jagged peaks within the national park exceed 8,000 and 9,000 feet in elevation. There are over three hundred lakes contained within North Cascades National Park.

The Skagit River travels through the national park on its way to Puget Sound. This is the largest river to empty into Puget Sound. Hundreds of streams and creeks also flow through the forested valleys of the national park. There are nearly four hundred miles of hiking trails throughout the national park. Unlike the other two national parks in Washington state, there are no entrance fees for North Cascades National Park.

Hotel Suggestion: Best Western Plus Skagit Valley Inn and Convention Center

This hotel is located on Market Street in Mount Vernon around 57 miles west of North Cascades National Park. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby dining options include Olive Garden, Sakura Japanese SteakHouse & Sushi Bar, and Max Dale’s Steak & Chop House. The hotel is home to an outdoor heated swimming pool as well as a fitness center for you to use.

All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, coffee makers, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $99 to $141. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

National parks are one great option for things to do in Washington state. They help to showcase the incredible natural beauty that the state is known for. What are your thoughts? Have you been to Washington state before? Feel free to leave a comment here.

National Parks Of The US – The Oldest National Parks To Visit

One thing that makes the United States unique is its breathtaking national parks. National parks are federal designations that are given for pieces of land that are considered to be very special. They are preserved by the federal government for the enjoyment of the general public. The designation of national parks in America began in the latter half of the 19th century. Here are the oldest national parks of the US you should visit.

Yellowstone National Park

(Photo courtesy of Frank Kovalchek via Wikimedia)

Yellowstone National Park is the first ever national park to be designated in the country. The national park was designated in March of 1872. The national park is located in the northwestern section of the US state of Wyoming with small portions also located in the states of Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone National Park is famous for its stunning geysers.

Over half of the world’s active geysers are found at this national park. There are between 500 and 700 geysers that are active at the national park every year. In addition to the geysers, there are other compelling hydrothermal features at the national park including hot springs, mudpots, and fumaroles. All of these hydrothermal features are found in areas of Yellowstone National Park called thermal basins.

Thermal basins are accessed by walking onto boardwalks. A boardwalk is the best way to view the geysers and other hydrothermal features. There are also designated trails available that also offers breathtaking views of thermal basins if you prefer them. Yellowstone National Park is also notable for its large population of bears. In fact, the national park is known as bear country.

Wolves and bisons are among other groups of animals that populate the national park. Yellowstone National Park is also home to Yellowstone Lake which is the largest freshwater lake in North America that is above 7,000 feet in elevation. The scenic lake sits at an elevation of 7,732 feet above sea level.

The entrance prices for the national park are $35 for non-commercial vehicles, $30 for motorcycles and snowmobiles, and $20 for individuals arriving on foot or bicycle. The entrance passes are good for up to seven days after being purchased. An onsite visitor’s center known as Albright Visitor Center is housed within the national park. There are exhibits regarding the national park as well as a bookstore there.

Hotel Suggestion: Gray Wolf Inn and Suites

This hotel is located on South Canyon Street in West Yellowstone, Montana which is located just northwest of Yellowstone National Park. This hotel has two new onsite amenities. The first one is outdoor patios with fire pits. The other new amenity is a fitness center. In addition to these new amenities, the hotel also offers an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub.

There is continental breakfast available at the hotel. If you are looking to dine out, a few choices include Taqueria Las Palmitas, Three Bears Restaurant, and Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon. All of the hotel’s rooms have coffee makers, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The hotel’s suites will have full kitchens along with separate bedrooms and living/dining areas. WiFi is available in all the rooms and suites.

The average rate for a standard room range from $104 to $474. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

Sequoia National Park

(Photo courtesy of LGalcan via Wikimedia)

Sequoia National Park is the second oldest national park to be established in the US. The national park was designated in September of 1890. It is located in the US state of California in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The national park is renowned for being the home to Giant Forest.

Giant Forest is home to incredibly large trees known as giant sequoias. One of these is called the General Sherman Tree. This is the largest tree in the world. This tree is 275 feet tall and measures at over 36 feet in diameter at the base. The trunks of the giant sequoias are known to stay wide until they reach up to sixty feet above the base.

The giant sequoias help to give Sequoia National Park the nickname of A Land of Giants. The Giant Forest is home to multiple hiking trails which will allow you to see unique features like the General Sherman Trees, Moro Rock, Round Meadow, and Tokopah Falls. There is also a museum located within the Giant Forest known as the Giant Forest Museum.

There, you can learn about the area and check out the small onsite book store. In addition to the Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park also contains the western slope of soaring Mt. Whitney which is the highest mountain peak in the contiguous US at 14,505 feet high. The entrance fees for the national park are $35 for vehicles and $20 for individuals. The passes are good for up to seven days after the purchase.

Hotel Suggestion: Wuksachi Lodge

This hotel is located on Wuksachi Way inside Sequoia National Park. This breathtaking hotel has a stone and cedar mountain lodge architectural design. It is surrounded by a sequoia forest, making for a serene hotel stay. There is an onsite restaurant at the hotel called the Peak Restaurant. An onsite shop is also available at the hotel.

All of the hotel’s rooms have an upscale, natural decor that involves natural granite rock, oak, cedar, and hickory woods into the design. As nice as these rooms look, there is one problem. It is that there is no WiFi in the rooms unfortunately. The hotel does offer WiFi in certain areas, but it is very slow. So, don’t expect to do much except maybe checking a few things like e-mail, the weather and some social media.

This is due to the remoteness of the surrounding area in which this hotel is located. All of the rooms at the hotel offer scenic views of the surrounding sequoia forest and mountain peaks. There are coffee makers and mini refrigerators in all the hotel’s rooms. The average rate for a standard room range from $124 to $331. You can go here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

Yosemite National Park

(Photo courtesy of Johan Viirok via Wikimedia)

Yosemite National Park was established in October of 1890. That makes this the third oldest national park to be designated in the country. It is located within the Sierra Nevada mountains in the central section of California. Yosemite National Park is famous for a wide variety of breathtaking environments. These include granite cliffs, waterfalls, deep valleys, giant sequoia groves, glaciers, and more.

There are numerous waterfalls throughout the national park. One such waterfall is Yosemite Falls. This is one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. Yosemite Falls is about 2,425 feet long. It is divided into three waterfalls known as Upper Yosemite Fall, the Middle Cascades, and Lower Yosemite Fall. The best time to see the waterfalls in Yosemite National Park would be during the spring.

That is because this is when the snow begins to melt into water which will then flow down from the upper areas to the lower areas of the national park. This results in stunning waterfalls. The most famous landmark in Yosemite National Park is Half Dome. This stunning granite rock formation measures at 5,000 feet high above the valley floor.

You can get close and personal with Half Done by hiking on Mirror Lake Trail. This is a paved trail that travels for one mile to Mirror Lake and then circles the lake for five miles. In addition to Half Dome and Mirror Lake, you can also get gorgeous views of spots like Tenaya Canyon, Mount Watkins, and Washington Column.

The entrance fees for the national park are $35 for vehicles, $30 for motorcycles, and $20 for individuals arriving by foot or bicycle. The passes to Yosemite National Park are good for up to seven days after being purchased. If you would like to learn about the history of Yosemite National Park and how it became an inspiration for other national parks across the country, you can head to Pioneer Yosemite History Center.

Hotel Suggestion: Yosemite Valley Lodge

This hotel is located on Yosemite Lodge Drive within Yosemite National Park. It is close to Yosemite Falls which is the waterfall that I mentioned earlier. This scenic hotel is designed with wood and glass meant to reflect its surroundings. The Mountain Room Restaurant and Base Camp Eatery are the two onsite restaurants available at the hotel. There is an outdoor swimming pool at the hotel.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites offer stunning views of the scenery that Yosemite National Park is renowned for. They all offer mini refrigerators and coffee makers. There is WiFi available in all of the rooms and suites, however, the speeds are very slow due to the remoteness of the surrounding area. So, keep that in mind.

The average rate for a standard room range from $192 to $749. You can view your booking options and/or browse some photos by going here.

These are the original national parks of the US that you will want to visit. All of these national parks were designated in the latter half of the 19th century before automobiles even existed. What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of these national parks before? Feel free to leave a comment below.

The Best Places To Go During the Winter of 2019/2020 To Escape the Cold

The winter season is approaching fast. Even though the winter season doesn’t technically start until December 21st, it is already feeling like winter in certain areas of the United States. Even though we usually associate winter with cold and snowy weather, not every area in the United States normally gets cold and snowy during the winter.

A winter wonderland certainly has its charms. For one, you could be bundling up and walking around in the deep snow. How about attempting to make a snowman with all these snow powders? Or maybe you are dreaming of Santa Claus sneaking in with a present for you? But what if you want to escape all that winter weather? Then here are the best places to go during the winter of 2019/2020 to get away from the cold.

Orlando, Florida

(Photo courtesy of Cwolfsheep via Wikipedia)

Orlando is a world class destination for family fun. That is thanks in a big part to the many theme and water parks found in the Orlando area. Better yet, all of these theme parks are open all year round, including during the winter. That gives you the opportunity to forget about all that cold and snowy weather this winter season.

Orlando is also home to the lovely palm trees, something you won’t find in areas that normally get cold in the winter. Subjects of Mickey and Minnie will definitely want to check out the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World theme park. The signature feature at the Magic Kingdom is Cinderella Castle. Cinderella Castle is the first thing that comes into view when you enter the Magic Kingdom.

During your time at the Magic Kingdom, you will have an opportunity to have a meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie. You can even take a picture with them. There are six sections, also known as “lands”, at the Magic Kingdom such as Main Street U.S.A., Liberty Square, and Tomorrowland. The sections circle Cinderella Castle. So, you will always have a view of the castle regardless of which section you are in.

The price for a one day, one park ticket for Walt Disney World currently starts at $125 per adult. You can buy the ticket by going here. Harry Potter fans and wizardry enthusiasts will want to feast their eyes on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section at the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks.

The most notable attraction in the Harry Potter section is the Hogwarts Castle where the fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is located. Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley are among the other major attractions located in the Harry Potter section.

Because the Harry Potter section is divided into two halves spanning two theme parks, you will need a ticket that grants you access to both of these theme parks. So, with that in mind, I recommend that you buy the Universal Orlando 3 Park Ticket which currently starts at $259.99. Head here if you would like to purchase the ticket.

That will grant you access to these two theme parks where the Harry Potter section is located plus the brand new Volcano Bay water park and the Universal CityWalk attraction. It bears noting though this ticket is only available to residents of the U.S. and Canada. You can shuttle between the two halves of the Harry Potter section via the Hogwarts Express.

The average low and high temperatures during the coldest month of January in Orlando are 49 F and 71 F respectively.

Hotel Suggestion: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is located on Cayman Way in Lake Buena Vista, southwest of Orlando. This is a unique resort hotel that is designed to immerse you into being on a Caribbean island. This resort hotel is divided into six sections, also known as “villages”. White-sand beaches, backed up by swaying palm trees, are common throughout the resort hotel.

Oh, and yes you can swim in any of these Caribbean-like waters, even in January. There are a variety of features and activities meant to embrace the Caribbean spirt, including colonial forts, bustling markets, splashy florals, and swaying hammocks. There are plenty of in-house restaurants at this resort hotel, all of them inspired by the Caribbean.

The recreational options here range from swimming to outdoor movie nights to campfires to jogging on a trail. All of the rooms here are themed to make you feel like a pirate including ship-shaped beds and hidden treasures. WiFi is available in all of the rooms.

The average rate for a standard room at this resort hotel ranges from $246 to $470. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view the photos.

Scottsdale, Arizona

(Photo courtesy of Joseph Plotz via Wikipedia)

Scottsdale is a beautiful city located in the sun-kissed Sonoran Desert of the U.S. state of Arizona. The city is located to the east of Phoenix, the state capital of Arizona. Scottsdale is renowned for its many days of sunny skies and beautiful desert landscapes. One place to check out is the bustling downtown Scottsdale, formally known as Old Town.

Art lovers will appreciate the many art galleries in Old Town that they can check out. If you are looking to do a ton of shopping, look no further than the upscale Scottsdale Fashion Square which is the largest shopping destination in the southwestern United States. If you are seeking delicious food, Old Town is populated by chef-led restaurants.

For these of you who want a night out on the town, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs in Old Town, especially in its entertainment district. In addition, there are two museums in Old Town worth checking out. They are Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

The average low and high temperatures in the coldest month of January in Scottsdale are 39 F and 69 F respectively.

Hotel Suggestion: The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort

Scottsdale is noted for its numerous world class resort hotels. One such resort hotel is The Phoenician. This resort hotel is located on East Camelback Road at the base of the breathtaking Camelback Mountains in Scottsdale. This luxurious, palatial resort hotel is most noted for its scenic golf course, The Phoenician Golf Club. This golf course mixes the lush greenery of the fairways with the breathtaking desert landscape.

The golf course also offers sweeping views of the mountains and the resort hotel’s palatial buildings. Another notable feature of this resort hotel is the luxury spa known as The Phoenician Spa. The Phoenician also offers a beautifully designed series of outdoor swimming pools meant to feel like an oasis. These swimming pools are known as The Phoenician Pools.

This section also allows for breathtaking mountain and building views. An adults-only hot tub, Kid Zone with treehouse, a waterslide, and poolside dining are also available at The Phoenician Pools. This resort hotel also feature a massive, two floors fitness center called The Phoenician Athletic Club. There are over 8 onsite restaurants to choose from, including Mowry & Cotton and Thirsty Camel.

A variety of onsite shops are found at this resort hotel such as Accents Luxury Resort Shop and Accents Gifts and Sundry. The suites at the resort hotel are called The Phoenician Suite. They are custom designed with decor and finishes that reflects the rich tones and warm hues of the surrounding Sonoran Desert.

All of the rooms and suites have beds with Italian linens. They also feature mini refrigerators, coffee makers, and WiFi. The average rate for a standard room here ranges from $388 to $1,150. You can book your stay and/or view some photos by going here.

Santa Monica, California

(Photo courtesy of Mike Gonzalez via Wikipedia)

This bustling oceanside city west of Los Angeles is armed with world class beaches, a soaring Ferris wheel, and gorgeous mountain and ocean scenery. To take advantage of the beautiful weather this winter, I would suggest you head out to the Santa Monica State Beach. There are a wide variety of beach activities you can do, from cycling to volleyball to walking along the sweeping ocean.

Another place worth going to is the Santa Monica Pier. This is where you can ride the famed Ferris wheel and take in the sweeping views. The pier also features other carnival rides as well as restaurants and shops on it.

If you are looking for an awesome way to ride to Santa Monica, and hopefully avoid all of that traffic, you can buy a pass for the Los Angeles Hop-On, Hop-Off Double Decker Bus Tour for about $49 per person. You can do so by going here.

The average low and high temperatures during the coldest month of January in Santa Monica are 51 F and 64 F respectively.

Hotel Suggestion: Shore Hotel

The Shore Hotel is located on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, overlooking the coast. That will give you easy access by walking to the beach and pier. This hotel is built in the coastal California style. The hotel features an outdoor heated swimming pool and a fitness center.

All of the hotel’s rooms are beautifully designed with beach shades of teak and orange. They are also outfitted with custom-made Teak wood furniture. Each room also comes with a private patio and balcony. All of the hotel rooms includes coffee makers, fully stocked private bars, and WiFi.

The average rate for a standard room ranges from $304 to $537. You can explore your booking options and/or check out some photos by going here.

These are the best places to go during the winter of 2019/2020. These places will allow you to get away from the cold and snowy weather as these places aren’t normally known for this kind of weather during the winter.

What are your thoughts? Has any of these places inspired you to get away from the cold this winter? Or are you all in for a winter wonderland this winter? Feel free to leave a comment below.