Parts of Washington resemble every other US state, dozens of countries and even several planets. Pacific tides and Olympic Peninsula forest collide to mimic coastal Maine. Mineral-coloured canyon walls rise from the Columbia and Snake Rivers like the treasures of Arizona. Its glacier-capped volcanic peaks, plush rain forests and playful Orca pods impersonate Alaska. In fact, the cascade mining town of Roslyn actually fooled millions of Northern Exposure TV viewers into believing they were in Cicely, Alaska.
Hikers who have trekked Europe’s famed Alps and Washington’s Cascades have claimed the primary difference is the language spoken on the trails. Skagit Valley tulip fields, rolling blankets of exploding colour, remind many of a country known for windmills and wooden shoes. And visitors to post-explosion Mount Saint Helens and Hells Canyon have described them with adjectives usually reserved for Venus, Mars and Jupiter.
Many of Washington’s wonders defy comparison, however. Natives learned that many centuries ago, explorers Lewis and Clark reported it after reaching the Pacific in 1803, and visitors today reiterate the theme: So much of Washington is distinctly Washington. Divers at 100 feet below sea level rave about the marine life in nutrient-rich Puget Sound. Climbers on Mount Ranier revel in stunning views stretching from Oregon to Canada. In between Washington’s top and bottom are myriad ways to enjoy the bounty of America’s 42nd state.