Old-growth forests, sweeping coastlines, snowy peaks, and hot springs abound in this pristine wonderland.
The Pacific Northwest (PNW) region of the United States offers some of the most spectacular nature in the United States. Here you’ll find a mix of climates, from temperate rainforests to arid high desert, with massive mountain ranges stretching through both Oregon and Washington. Even the Columbia River, which divides the two states, is characterized by vistas, waterfalls, and spring wildflowers. While the Pacific Northwest gets its fair share of rain, this only adds to the lushness. Plus, a little water doesn’t stop most Northwesterners from getting out and exploring, and many of the campgrounds are open year-round (and offer yurts for rainy-day glamping).
Stretching along the Pacific Ocean, from the edge of the redwoods up to the Olympic Peninsula, this Oregon and Washington expanse is characterized by forest-flanked beaches and epic rock formations. It’s also home to Olympic National Park, a protected area of varied ecosystems spread over nearly a million acres.
Usually referred to simply as the Cascades, this long stretch of mountains stretches from British Columbia clear down to Northern California. Here you’ll find many of the PNW’s tallest mountains, including Mt. Rainier (which has its own national park), Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood. It’s also home to Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the US (and Oregon’s only national park).
Eastern Oregon and Washington are characterized by dry, desert environments, without the heavy rainfall that's the norm in the western parts of the states. It’s also the least populated part of the Pacific Northwest, ideal for deep wilderness backpacking and avoiding the crowds.
Sandwiched between the Coastal Range and the Cascades, the Willamette Valley is home to Oregon’s largest cities: Portland, Salem, and Eugene. The region is among the best for hiking and camping experiences in the state, with plenty of national forests and state parks to choose from. It’s also a great place for wine tasting, and its American Viticultural Area (AVA) is internationally renowned, particularly among pinot noir fans.
While Seattle is the biggest attraction for many visitors to this corner of Washington state, there’s plenty for campers and outdoor enthusiasts to discover, too, from kayaking the Puget Sound to whale watching in the San Juan Islands. At the northernmost edge of the state, North Cascades National Park attracts hikers and backpackers with its remote trail networks flanked by ancient forests.