Washington State: one week, three kids, and four National Parks


Hi!  We spent our 2019 spring break exploring and hiking an enormous amount across Washington state.  We would now like to move there immediately.  We explored North Cascades National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument, and Olympic National Park.  We brought our teenaged daughter and son and preschooler, but only paid for the three kids’ tickets because O and I both had vouchers to use.

We flew into Seattle, picked up the rental car, and immediately drove the three hours to North Cascades National Park.  Right away, we bought the National Parks pass at $80/year for all the entrance fees (usually $30/per park).  We had limited time (four more GIANT parks to go), so we chose to stop at the visitor center, an overpass of the Skagit River, hike at Thunder Knob trail, take photos at Diablo Lake Overlook, and hike/photograph at Washington Pass Overlook.  Of the hundreds of pictures I took, a few are below in that order:

Next, I drove a beautiful route (about five hours) through gorgeous orchards and hilly landscapes around rivers (reminded me of Iceland) towards Mount Rainier National Park.  We made it to our next hotel, a Great Wolf Lodge, by 2 a.m., and spent the next morning letting the kids play in the water park.  We spent the afternoon at Mount Rainier.  We stopped at the Grove of Patriarchs, Reflection Lake, and hiked part of the summit of Mount Rainier.

The next day we spent time at Mount St Helen’s Volcanic Monument, aka The Johnston Ridge Observatory.  We brought sunscreen, sunglasses, and lots of water for the Boundary Trail that leads to the blown crater of Mt Helens.  We are avid hikers, but in the heat, we barely made it to Devil’s Point (2.2 miles one way).  Pictures below!

We drove up to the northeast side of Olympic National Park the next day.  The plan was to end in Hurricane Ridge that evening.  We made plans to see Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, and Hoh Forest across three days.  It was too rainy that evening to spend in Hurricane Ridge (HR), so we packed HR and Lake Crescent together in one day.  We stayed mid trip at the Kalaloch Lodge.  My favorite part of the trip was Ruby Beach (hence a hundred pictures from Ruby Beach- see below).

It was pouring on the last day of the trip.  We left Kalaloch Lodge (no wi-fi and wood-burning stoves made for an awesome night for teens!) and attempted to see Hoh Rainforest for the morning.  It continued to pour, so the kids were miserable in their ponchos and we left early.  I didn’t take any pictures for fear of dropping my phone in the puddles, and instead I attached are a few pictures from when O and I visited on our anniversary trip in 2018 instead:

That afternoon we drove the couple of hours to Seattle to check-in to the hotel for our last night.  I made reservations the next morning at 10 am at Neko, a coffee and cat cafe.  The kids have always wanted a cat, but O is “allergic”.  It was a cute experience.

We barely had time to return the rental and catch our flight home.  The kids and I jumped on the airport shuttle from the rental car area while O stayed back and sorted through the rental papers.  We were terrified we would miss our flight.  We ended up making it alright.  But it does take a long time to get from the rental place to the Seattle airport.

We still need to go back to see parts of Olympic National Forest with my mom, plus all the millions (billions?) or acres of forest to explore.  We also need to go back to live there. It’ll happen eventually.

Happy travels!