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gs logo Elwha Dam RV Park
Port Angeles, Washington
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Spokane, Washington
gs logo Friends Landing RV Park
Montesano, Washington
gs logo Horn Rapids RV Resort
Richland, Washington
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Elma, Washington

Gateway to Washington

Visitors to Washington will be happy to know that many of the state’s prime attractions lie along the state’s Interstate 5 corridor between Vancouver and Olympia. Forget long back roads and endless expanses of boring terrain — this region delivers Evergreen State splendor close to the freeway offramp.

Vancouver (the American One)

If you’re driving up from the south, the first city you will hit is Vancouver, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. This quaint little city is a great place to begin your Washington discoveries. Discover a charming and compact downtown with lots of independent restaurants, microbreweries and coffee shops. There’s also a lovely waterfront with a mix of restaurants and residences, not to mention the five-mile-long Waterfront Renaissance Trail, popular with runners and cyclists.

Vancouver Fishing

Vancouver’s proximity to abundant freshwater makes this town a prime destination for sport fishing. The Columbia River is home to steelhead, coho and chinook salmon. Battling a 20-pound fish is a sport fisherman’s dream tale to tell, and the fall salmon run beckons fishing enthusiasts by the hundreds.

Fine Fort

Those with an interest in history won’t want to miss the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, the site of the original Hudson’s Bay Company Columbia Department trading post. This 336-acre expanse on the banks of the Columbia features lots to see, with a historic village featuring a blacksmith, a trading shop and even an old-fashioned kitchen. On nice days, there are plenty of lovely trails and fields surrounding the fort, including the Vancouver Land Bridge, a paved trail spanning 3,800 feet.

Bagging Birds

Sauvie Island is where bird hunters go to bag pheasant, dove, Canada goose and quail. This island, nestled in the middle of the Columbia River, receives more than 1 million visitors each year — many of whom flock to the island for its beaches, bike trails and boating opportunities. Bird-watchers enjoy sighting any of the more than 250 species that call the island home. Once the residence of Multnomah Indian tribes, the island is dedicated to wildlife preservation and farming as well as outdoor recreation.

Wildlife Refuge

Just north of Vancouver, the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge provides hiking and wildlife watching along the east bank of the Columbia River. Check out the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, a replica of a Chinook structure that contains historical artifacts from the indigenous people. Visitors who want to deepen their understanding of local history should also pay a visit to the Clark County Historical Museum, housed in the 1909 Vancouver Public Library. Displays showcase Native Pacific Northwest crafts along with locally relevant exhibitions.

Mountain’s Majesty

Once you’ve had your fill of history and dining, continue north along Interstate 5 to Castle Rock. The de facto gateway to Mount St. Helens, this attraction is named for a soaring 190-foot-high rock that was once used as a local navigation landmark. From here, a detour to the state’s most famous volcano, Mount St. Helens, 50 miles to the east, is in order. Mount St. Helens made headlines around the world in 1980 when it dramatically erupted, destroying much of its immediate surroundings in the process and spewing ash for miles, clear down to Portland and beyond.

Beautiful Forests

Today, this mountain in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest attracts tons of visitors, many of whom come to hike on the volcano’s blown-out crater or simply learn more about geology at the visitors’ center. The Ape Cave Interpretive Site — a two-mile-long lava tube — is a great option for families, as is the nearby Treehouse Island Zipline Adventure on Silver Lake. This attraction offers exhilarating views from high above the region.

Centralia Stopover

Continue north up Interstate 5, taking your next break up at Centralia, which has been a popular stopover for travelers making the journey from Portland to Seattle for ages. In fact, stagecoaches used to stop here back in the frontier days, and it attracts thousands of bicyclists every July during the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. Other notable summer events include the Hub City Car Show and Antique Fest. Centralia has managed to preserve a lot of its historic charm while infusing some modern-day amenities, including a downtown winery and a vibrant arts community.

Shopping, Centralia Style

Main points of interest here include Centralia Outlets, a large discount mall featuring major brands ranging from Nike to Coach. Centralia Train Depot gets plenty of visitors because it serves as the local Amtrak train station, but the 1912 building is worth a visit for its lovely interiors replete with painstakingly crafted woodwork.

Olympia: Cool Capital City

Continue north up to Olympia, the state capital and a great final stop before continuing your journey to Seattle and beyond. This great little city offers so much for visitors, from the beautiful Washington State Capitol to a world-class children’s museum. It’s also a great base for exploring the region, from the Chehalis Western Trail, which runs through Thurston County, to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, a popular place for hiking and bird-watching, with a mix of trails and tide flats. Walk the shores of Capitol Lake for beautiful views. While in town, don’t miss the Olympic Flight Museum, which features historic planes and helicopters. In August, the annual Olympia Brew Fest brings the finest beer makers to the city.

For More Information

Washington Tourism Alliance

800-544-1800

www.experiencewa.com