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[[wts:Category:Washington (state)]]
[[wts:Category:Washington (state)]]
[[WikiPedia:Washington (state)]]

Revision as of 09:35, 27 June 2013

Mount Rainier rises over Tacoma

Often referred to by its full title, Washington State, to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., Washington [1] offers rugged coastline, deserts, forests, mountains, volcanoes, and hundreds of coastal islands to explore. The Cascade Mountains bisect the state, with the damp forested coastal areas to the west, and pineforests, deserts and irrigated farmland of the Columbia River Plateau to the east.


Washington regions
Columbia River Plateau
located on the southeastern side of the Cascades; this region features canyons, deserts and steppes set in hillside valleys. Cities included within this region are Kennewick, Walla Walla, and Yakima.
North Cascades
beautiful mountains and fresh water lakes, outdoor activities galore, national parks (North Cascades National Park) and secluded getaways await travelers to the North Cascades region. Cities included within this region are Bellingham, Leavenworth, and Wenatchee.
Olympic Peninsula
on the west coast, with rain forests against a spine of dramatic mountains
Spokane, Cheney, Pullman
Puget Sound
with Seattle, the state's largest city; King County, filled with the Seattle metropolitan area, Tacoma, Olympia (capital), and the islands and waters between Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula
Northeast Washington
San Juan Islands
a scattering of forested islands in the serene waters adjacent to British Columbia. Ferries, private boats, kayaks, and orca (whales) criss-cross the waters, while float planes and bald eagles soar overhead
Southwest Washington


There are many cities in Washington; these are some of the more popular.

  • Olympia — State capital located within the fast growing South Sound area.
  • Bellevue — Seattle's suburban cousin across Lake Washington, a commercial center with a growing downtown area.
  • Bellingham — Home of Western Washington University. Near the Canadian border and Vancouver, B.C.
  • Seattle — Largest city in the Pacific Northwest. Home of the world famous coffee chain, Starbucks.
  • Spokane — The heart of Eastern Washington, unofficial capital of the Inland Empire.
  • Tacoma — Port city with several good museums downtown.
  • Vancouver — Just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Not to be confused with the Canadian city.
  • Walla Walla — Small eastern city in the heart of Washington's blooming wine country.
  • Yakima — Located in the Yakima Valley, the major agricultural and wine region of the state.

Other destinations



  • Drive on the right side of the road! Oncoming traffic comes from the left and you must cross oncoming traffic when turning left. An international drivers license will usually allow you to drive legally for a few months.
  • The drinking age in Washington is 21 years old. This goes for buying alcohol as well.
  • In November 2012, Washington state became one of just two states to pass by initiative the legal sale and possession of marijuana for both medical and non-medical use with Initiative 502. Although marijuana is still illegal under U.S. Federal law, persons 21 and older in Washington state will be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form, or any combination of all three, and to legally consume marijuana and marijuana-infused products. It should be noted that the law specifically designates that use of marijuana must take place in a private setting. Public marijuana use is not allowed.
  • You must be 18 years of age to legally smoke. Understand that it is ILLEGAL in Washington state to smoke in a workplace, restaurant, bar, bowling alley, non-tribal casino, and (technically, though everyone does it) bus stop. Smoking is also banned within 25 feet (8 meters) of a door or window that can open or a ventilation intake.
  • While Washington is often portrayed (as well as Seattle) as an extremely rainy place, the climate of Washington is actually very diverse. The part of the state east of the Cascades is quite dry and arid. In the Puget Sound area, it rains some, but not as much as many other major cities. Here especially, the weather can change very fast. The west coast of the Olympic peninsula is the rainiest part of the state.
  • As of July 1, 2011, a Discover Pass is required for all private vehicles entering a state park. (There are some exceptions for camping, fishing, and hunting, which have their own fees, plus a few annual "State Parks free days.") A daily pass is available for those staying only a day or two; otherwise it's valid for one year (no upgrades) for two vehicles. (If needed, you can fill in the second license plate number later.) Dealers, such as sporting goods stores, and online sales add a surcharge. As most state parks have no manned entry booth, there's been confusion over whether it's allowed to enter without a pass, then purchase one at the ranger station or visitors center. Only do so during daily business hours, going promptly from the main entrance without any recreational stops in between. Calling the park ahead of time, and inquiring about the pass is a good idea if you don't already have one. Some smaller state parks, and even larger ones at off-peak times are completely unattended, requiring the pass be purchased elsewhere in advance. [3]


Most people in Washington speak English with a Pacific Northwest accent. This accent is considered very similar to general American. Washingtonians generally have little to no problem understanding different accents of the English language.

Washington is the thirteenth most populated state, but by comparison has the fourth highest Asian population. You may be able to find a Japanese or Chinese speaker, especially in the Seattle area. There is also a large Hispanic population. In some small towns east of the Cascades more than 50% of households speak Spanish at home.

Get in

By plane

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, (IATA: SEA), called "SeaTac" by locals, connects Seattle to all regions of the world, with especially frequent transpacific routes. Competition is heavy on busy San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California routes. Non-stops to the following countries: Canada, China, United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Taiwan, and the UK. Transfers are required from the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Spokane International Airport, (IATA: GEG). Most flights go to Seattle, Portland (Oregon), Boise, Oakland (across from San Francisco), Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Denver, Phoenix and Minneapolis. One flight to Chicago.

Portland International Airport, (IATA: PDX) is just one mile across the state line in Oregon. For Southwest Washington (i.e. anything south of Chehalis along I-5 exit 77) this is the nearest major airport. One daily non-stop from Tokyo and Amsterdam.

Vancouver International Airport (IATA: YVR) is in Canada 27 miles (44 km) from the border. You will have to go through U.S. customs at Blaine, Washington. For U.S. residents, going through customs twice probably isn't worth it unless you also want to visit Vancouver (see Bellingham below). For Canadians wanting to go to the San Juan Islands, it's the best choice. Also has lots of international flights.

Tri-Cities Airport (IATA: PSC) is a commercial airport located 2 miles northwest of the city of Pasco and is the third largest commercial air terminal in the State of Washington. Flights go to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Mesa (near Phoenix), Salt Lake City, Denver, and Minneapolis (seasonal).

Bellingham International Airport (IATA: BLI) is a regional airport about 90 miles north of Seattle and 60 miles south of Vancouver, Canada. Allegiant and Alaska Airlines have jet service to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Mesa (near Phoenix), San Diego, Honolulu and Palm Springs (seasonal). There are many shorter flights (mostly to Seattle) with turboprop aircraft.

Commuter Airports

Horizon Air (which links to Alaska Air) has flights to five small cites in or near Washington State with infrequent daily service to Seattle-Tacoma. There's also a couple of commuter flights on SeaPort Airlines to Portland (PDX).

Lewiston, Idaho (next to Clarkston, Washington) (IATA: LWS) Seattle-Tacoma

Pullman (IATA: PUW) Seattle-Tacoma

Walla Walla (IATA: ALW) Seattle-Tacoma, or Portland via Eastern Oregon Regional Airport (IATA:PDT) in nearby Pendleton

Wenatchee (IATA: EAT) Seattle-Tacoma, Portland (1 stop)

Yakima (IATA: YKM) Seattle-Tacoma, Portland

By train

Amtrak [4] offers several ways to enter and travel throughout Washington by train:

  • The Empire Builder [5] runs between Chicago and Spokane, Washington, where it then splits, with half of the train continuing to Seattle, and the other half to Portland.
  • The Coast Starlight [6]. Regarded by many as America's most scenic train ride, the Coast Starlight runs between Los Angeles, California, and Seattle, Washington, stopping at many Washington towns including Seattle, Tacoma, Lacey/Olympia, Centralia, Kelso/Longview & Vancouver, WA.
  • Amtrak Cascades [7]. The Cascades is a special service that operates between Seattle and Portland 4x daily. Twice daily from Seattle to Vancouver, BC and from Portland to Eugene using special high-speed Talgo rolling stock. Washington stops include Bellingham, Mt Vernon, Everett, Edmonds, Seattle, Tukwila, Tacoma, Lacey/Olympia, Centralia, Kelso/Longview & Vancouver, WA. Additional service to Eugene & Vancouver are on the Thruway Motorcoach buses.

For more information, see Amtrak's website, Wikitravel's article Rail travel in the United States, or the Wikipedia pages on each of this train services.

By car

From British Columbia

Interstate 5 and the Peace Arch [8] crossing is the main land port-of-entry to Washington from Canada. However this is only one of five land crossing points between the Lower Mainland region of BC and the Northwest Cascades region of Washington. See the Get in — by car section of Northwest Cascades region article for details.

From Oregon

Interstate 5 (and Interstate 205) provide access from the greater Portland area. Interstate 82 / US 395 provides access from eastern Oregon to the tri-cities area of Eastern Washington. For a more scenic entry, try taking US Route 101 along the Washington and Oregon coast, but be aware for the numerous speed traps in the small cities.

From Idaho

Interstate 90 is the main route in via Coeur D'Alene, but US 2 provides access to the northern parts of Idaho and Washington.

By bus

Greyhound [9] has a number of bus stations throughout the state in metropolitan areas as well as the smaller micropolitan areas by way of the main interstate highways (5, 82 & 90). Passengers transfer buses in Missoula, MT; Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City or Sacramento to get to where they're going.

Get around

To explore most of Washington (outside of main cities), you will generally need a car because there is very little public transportation, especially to more remote locations.

By car

Washington's road network is well-maintained and cars are the quickest way to travel around the state. The main freeways are I-5, running along the west side of Washington through many of Western Washington's population centers. I-90, running east of Seattle to Ellensburg and Spokane, and I-82, which starts at I-90 near Ellensburg and heads southeast through Yakima and Kennewick. Other US highways and WA state routes access all parts of the state. Rental-car agencies can be found in the larger cities.

All of the state's major east-west highways cross over the Cascade Mountains, which are subject to closure, delays, and studded tire or chain requirements in wintertime. In severe weather, it may be better to use I-84 just across the border in Oregon. This route goes through the relatively low elevation of the Columbia River Basin. On rare occasion, I-84 may also have weather-related problems where it passes north of Mount Hood. A 20-mile detour on Washington State Hwy 14 is available between I-84 Exit #44 Bridge of the Gods, and Exit #64 Hood River Bridge. Both have a small toll.

In urban areas (especially in Seattle) getting around by bus is fine but for most places, especially in small towns and in rural areas having driving is a must as (local) bus services are limited.

By bus

  • Greyhound, [10], travels primirarly along Interstate 5, 82 & 90 and along US Hwy 395 between Pasco & Ritzville. Along I-5 buses go between Seattle & Portland via Tacoma, Olympia, Centralia, and Kelso with some continuing south from Portland to Sacramento and between Seattle & Vancouver via Everett, Mt Vernon & Bellingham. Along I-90 buses go from Seattle to Missoula, MT (via Ellensburg, Moses Lake, Spokane, etc) and southeast to Stanfield, OR (via Ellensburg, Yakima, Sunnyside & Pasco along I-82. Along US 395 buses go from Pasco up to Ritzville & over to Spokane along I-90. Passengers typically transfer buses in Seattle, Portland, Spokane, Sacramento, Missoula, Pasco , Stanfield and Vancouver to continue to other cities.
  • Northwestern Trailways, [11] goes from Spokane to Seattle, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Coeur d'Alene, Boise, Pullman & Lewiston on multiple routes as well as operating the 'Travel Washington - Apple Line' bus between Ellensburg and Omak along US 97.
  • Bellair Airporter, [12] goes from SeaTac Airport up to Lynden and Blaine via Stanwood, Marysville, Mt Vernon,Burlington and Bellingham on one route and over to Yakima via North Bend, Cle Elum and Ellensburg on another route. From Burlington they have a third route going across to Anacortes and the San Juan ferry terminal.
  • BoltBus, [13]. Direct service from Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Vancouver, BC. Buses stop at 5th Ave S and S King St next to the International District/Chinatown transit station. Fares $1-20.
  • Quick Shuttle, [15]. Runs between the airport in Seatac Airport to Vancouver via downtown Seattle, Tulalip & Bellingham.

By ferry

Washington State Ferries [16] is the largest in the country. It has routes across Puget Sound and to Bainbridge, Vashon, Whidbey and the San Juan Islands. Inland, the state also offers some free ferries across the Columbia River. There are also some county-run ferries to smaller destinations such as to Anderson Island and Guemes Island.

Many ferry destinations are not islands without a bridge, but peninsulas where going by land would involve a very long detour. The most extreme example of this is the Port Townsend -- Keystone route on State Hwy 20. Only five and a half miles via the ferry, becomes a whopping 217 miles (354 km) traveling by car!

By train

Getting around by train on Amtrak [17] is likely to be quite a hassle, especially with infrequent departures, slow travel times, inconvenient schedules and limited routes. For those who still wish to take trains to get around Washington, these are the main routes:

  • The Empire Builder [18] runs between Chicago and Spokane, Washington, where it then splits, with half of the train continuing to Seattle, and the other half to Portland.
  • The Coast Starlight [19]. Regarded by many as America's most scenic train ride, the Coast Starlight runs between Los Angeles, California, and Seattle, Washington, stopping at many Washington towns including Seattle, Tacoma, Lacey/Olympia, Centralia, Kelso/Longview & Vancouver, WA.
  • Amtrak Cascades [20]. The Cascades is a special service that operates between Seattle and Portland 4x daily. Twice daily from Seattle to Vancouver, BC and from Portland to Eugene using special high-speed Talgo rolling stock. Washington stops include Bellingham, Mt Vernon, Everett, Edmonds, Seattle, Tukwila, Tacoma, Lacey/Olympia, Centralia, Kelso/Longview & Vancouver, WA. Additional service to Eugene & Vancouver are on the Thruway Motorcoach buses.
  • Sound Transit Sounder [21] runs commuter trains between Everett-Seattle and Seattle-Tacoma-Lakewood on two separate routes.

For more information, see Amtrak's website, Wikitravel's article Rail travel in the United States, or the Wikipedia pages on each of this train services.


Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens


  • Visit the San Juan Islands, famous for sailing, fishing, sea kayaking, scuba diving, hiking, bicycling and fine vistas and sunsets.
  • Go killer whale watching in Haro Strait and Lime Kiln State Park
  • Go bird-watching and see some of the 400+ species of birds with a local birding guide who knows all the best locations.
  • Go fishing for salmon, albacore tuna, or bottomfish while visiting the Washington Coast
  • Go hiking in the Ape Caves
  • Go skiing at Mount Baker
  • Go rock climbing at Frenchman Coulee
  • Tour wineries in Washington's wine country
  • Pick farm fresh produce at Yakima Valley farms


Washington state is a great place for seafood, with salmon in particular being a specialty.


Specialty Coffee

High quality Arabica coffee beans roasted with greater emphasis on taste and freshness, brewed with dripped water or "espresso" steam) arguably has its birthplace here. Starbucks and Tully's are apparent brands that most associate specialty coffee with Seattle. However, many small local companies are the ones that have paved the way (and continue to do so) in pioneering the specialty coffee industry. When you visit Seattle, be sure to check out these renowned coffee roasters (in no particular order):

Cafe Allegro (Seattle's original espresso bar, tucked away in an alley in the U-District), Espresso Vivace, Caffe Vita, Zoka Coffee, Victrola Coffee, Stumptown Coffee, Caffe Appassionato, Caffe Umbria, Caffe Fiore, Fonte Coffee, Pura Vida, Vashon Island Coffee, Lighthouse Coffee, Caffe D'Arte, Tony's Coffee/Caffe Ladro, Top Pot Donuts & Coffee, Batdorf & Bronson, Mukilteo Coffee, Moka Joe Coffee, Pioneer Coffee

Wine and Microbrew Beers

Washington is also the home to well-crafted local wines [22] and "microbrewery" beers.


Do not litter along the freeways or highways. The fines for littering can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the scenario. It is an offense that the state takes VERY seriously. If you are caught in the act you will know what the state means by the "Litter and It Will Hurt" signs which frequently decorate its roadways.

Stay healthy


Like many western states, Washington State has had cases of hantaviral pulmonary syndrome, 41 confirmed cases in the state since 1993. Realistically, however, hantavirus is of very little concern to the traveler; but sensible precautions should be applied. Do NOT venture in a wild animal's den or handle any dead animals; particularly rodents, as rodents seem to be the primary vector of the illness. There is no cure for the disease, treatment mainly consists of supportive therapies. The main defense against the virus is prevention.

For more information on prevention and transmission, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [23] website on hantaviruses.

Stay safe


In the Cascade Mountains (which divide the state into halves) there can be significant snow accumulations during the late fall and winter months. This poses a danger for avalanches whenever these areas experience warm up periods, regardless of how brief they may be. Mountain passes are sometimes closed for avalanche control and may effect travel plans, especially along I-90 from Yakima to Seattle. Check the Washington State Department of Transportation website [24] for information regarding Avalanche control.

If going into the mountains during winter and early spring months, refer to the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center website [25] for information regarding the current avalanche dangers throughout the Cascade region of the state.


Much like any state in the United States, Washington is generally safe and the chance of you running into any trouble is unlikely. Certain areas of Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, and Yakima can become seedy after dark and it is therefore advised that one avoid being out alone very late at night; this is especially true in unlit places where you are an easy target for any crime or other illegal activity.

Be aware that public protests occur often in Washington cities, and frequently become violent. It is not advised to attend any public marches or gatherings if staying in Seattle,Tacoma, or other urban areas. Summer is high season for public protests in the state.

Property crime is a common occurrence in Washington cities. Many locals use the strategy of leaving their doors unlocked to lessen damage caused by forced entry. Use your best judgement.

If you are a military service member, use caution and discretion when out and about in uniform. In areas such as the university district and capitol hill of Seattle, assaults on military service members occur with enough frequency to warrant weekly warnings from unit commanders. The areas near military bases can get very dodgy, especially at night. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Stay to the main tourist areas of the state during the day and you will have a great visit.

If you find yourself in an emergency situation (of any kind), dial 911 on your phone.


East of the Cascade Mountains, the state's terrain begins to turn into desert and temperatures often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit in regions such as the Yakima Valley and the Columbia River Plateau. If are planning on hiking into these locations, follow desert survival guidelines. Be sure to take plenty of water (at least one gallon per person, per day), sunscreen and wear light clothing. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to get return.

Also, it is best to hike during the earlier part of the day, as thunderstorms tend to develop suddenly during the afternoon. In the event you encounter inclement weather conditions, seek high ground immediately! Thunderstorms can cause flash flooding in canyons and other low laying areas.


During the winter months, the western side of the state often receives significant rainfall which soften the grounds to such a point that landslides sometimes occur. Be especially alert when driving. Embankments along roadsides are particularly susceptible to landslides. Watch the road for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, and other indications of possible landslides or debris flows.

If you encounter a landslide, LEAVE the area immediately if it is safe to do so and call the local fire, police or public works department


Volcano safety is, to put it mildly, a controversial subject; see the article on Volcanoes (and, particularly, its discussion page) for some of the issues. Washington state is home to five major, ACTIVE volcanoes, plus one just across the border in Oregon: Mount St. Helens (1980), Mount Rainier (1894) (which is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world), Mount Baker (1880), Mount Hood, Oregon (1866), Glacier Peak (c. 1700), and Mount Adams (c. 550 B.C.). The majority of these are considered to be tourist destinations, particularly Rainier and St. Helens.

If planning to visit one of these locations, FOLLOW the policy regarding any road and/or trail closures that at first glance may appear unnecessarily conservative -- but it is not. Believe it. The closures aren't there simply to inconvenience and irritate you. If a trail is closed due to eruptive hazard, stay off the trail.

Get out

  • Oregon - The state's southern neighbor is known for lush forests and craggy mountains.
  • Idaho - Washington's eastern neighbor is a rugged state, with snow-capped mountains, whitewater rivers, forests, high desert, and plenty of wilderness.
  • British Columbia - Crossing the state's northern border into Canada leads into the mountainous terrain of British Columbia and the seaside city of Vancouver. There's also a ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria on Vancouver Island.
  • Montana - While Washington does not share a border with Montana, due to the narrow panhandle you can pass through Idaho in just over an hour on I-90, US 2, and Route 200. However, allow more time on US 12 in the southern part of the state, as Idaho is significantly wider here.
  • Alaska - Though quite far, Washington State has been the gateway to Alaska for well over a century, with ferries and cruise ships connecting the two today. In addition, there are dozens of flights to Alaska's four main cities from Sea-Tac Airport, mostly on Alaska Airlines.wts:Category:Washington (state)

WikiPedia:Washington (state) Dmoz:North_America/United_States/Washington/ World66:northamerica/unitedstates/washington

This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!