Washington (State) United States

The State of Washington offers much more than its 6.7 million people, 68,192 square miles, capital city of Olympia, mostly mountain terrain, 21st-place ranking in United States coal production or 27.66 inches of annual rainfall.

It also has many natural and man-made wonders.

Take its national parks and recreation areas. At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is Washington’s highest peak. Its 26 glaciers contain 35 square miles of snow and ice (the most extensive single-peak glacial system in the contiguous United States) that are ideal for snowshoeing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing.

This national park also boasts abundant wildflowers on rolling foothills. Its lowland forests command Douglas fir and Western hemlock trees over 200 years-old that stand 30 stories high. Wildlife includes Cope’s giant salamanders and the endangered Northern spotted owl.

The Northern Cascades National Park, including the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas, hosts two million acres of federally-designated wilderness and a mountain range so grandiose it’s called the “American Alps.”

Olympic National Park sustains three ecosystems and the largest unmanaged Roosevelt elk herd (Teddy Roosevelt) in the world. Hurricane Ridge provides exciting high winds. The amazing 93-mile Wonderland Trail encircles the mountain, though its steepness confines hiking to only the highly-skilled.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (FDR) is a 154 mile reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam, and haven for house-boating, fishing, sailing and swimming.

And who can overlook the irrepressible Mount St. Helens, forever famous for its 5.1 Richter scale volcanic eruption on May 18, 1980? Its spewed sediment carved out a “Little Grand Canyon.” There are helicopter tours available along with the Forest Learning Center, which highlights Forest Exhibits and Eruption Theater.

Prefer man-made wonders? Then Seattle fascinates with its world-famous 607 foot high Space Needle atop the revolving SkyCity Restaurant that presents a breathtakingly panoramic view of the city. The Seattle Aquarium has a 400,000 gallon Underwater Dome Tank, where sharks, salmon and rockfish reside. Marvel at the Ocean Oddities’ potpourri exhibit of potbellied seahorses, pinecone fish, flying gurnards, short dragonfish and cowfish.

Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market draws 10 million visitors annually and teems with small family owned restaurants, antique dealers, comic book vendors, etc.

About 35 miles South of Seattle is the Puyallup Fair, which attracts 1 million visitors a year and annually ranks among the country’s top-ten largest fairs.

All of these attractions make Washington a State of Wonders and a must-see tourist extravaganza. Travelers will find many natural as well as manmade sites available that will make a visit to Washington one of their cheaper holidays. Parks, hiking, water activates and museums will make everyone’s pocket book go¬† long way.

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