A Natural ‘Crush’ – 14 Reasons to Love the Pacific Northwest

Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains in the background, credit: Bryn Fluharty

A friend once told me that I have a ‘crush’ on the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. While it might sound strange it is true, I LOVE our mountains. But there is more here to love than just mountains.

Here are 14 reasons to love the Pacific Northwest:

1. Puget Sound
Puget Sound is the watery gem of Washington State and is filled with wildlife, amazing scenery and fun recreational opportunities. Visitors and locals alike love getting out onto the water to whale watch, kayak, scuba dive or just enjoy watching the sun set over the San Juan Islands!

2. Mt Rainier National Park
Mt Rainier National Forest offers the opportunity to explore old growth forests and high alpine wilderness. From the hot springs at Ohanapecosh to the flower-covered fields of Paradise and the glaciers of Rainier this iconic area is filled with opportunities for the whole family to enjoy.

Mt Rainier at sunrise, credit: Bryn Fluharty
3. The Olympic Peninsula and National Park
The mountains and forests are far older than the eternal vampire love that this region has become famous for. The Olympic Mountains tower over the surrounding landscape in a jagged line of peaks. Below the glaciers and barren rocky slopes of the high alpine terrain stretches some of the best examples of temperate rainforest, with life on every moss-covered rock, branch and ancient tree. The roar of pristine and wild rivers fills the air and mixes with the cry of squawking birds. While visiting the park you might even be able to spy members of the largest herd of Roosevelt elk in the U.S.

4. North Cascades National Park
The North Cascades National Park is a hidden gem offering amazing mountain views, stunning valleys and sparkling waterfalls. This wild area is one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth with some of our most elusive species, such as gray wolves, fish and wolverine.

Hiking in the North Cascades, credit: Bryn Fluharty
5. Dry Falls
The waterfall that once cascaded through a large swatch of Eastern Washington would have made Niagara Falls look like a dripping faucet. The massive movement of water has long since disappeared, leaving behind a 400 foot high cliff spanning 3.5 miles through the desert. This is one of the greatest geological sites in North America, offering a look back at the ice age and a stunning example of the power of water to shape our landscape.

6. The Columbia River
The Columbia River inspires awe in all who visit it. Beginning in British Columbia it winds its way through Washington State, coming down to mark the border between Washington and Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean.

7. Wines of the Pacific Northwest
What better way to say I love you than with a bottle of PNW wine! Unique climate and soil means that the Northwest is now producing world class wines from areas like the Yakima Valley in Washington and the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

8. Mt. Hood National Forest
Just outside of Portland rises Mt. Hood. With 1,067,043 acres of forest area, locals and visitors can enjoy fishing, camping, boating and hiking and climbing during the summer. The fall brings hunting season. In the winter snow sports enthusiasts are able to enjoy skiing and other snow sports on the slopes of the mountain.

Mt. Hood, credit: Bryn Fluharty
9. Crater Lake National Park
What we now know as a lake was once the great Mt. Mazama volcano, which erupted thousands of years ago. At a depth of 1,943, it is the deepest lake in the U.S. and the seventh deepest in the world with some of the clearest water in the world. Visitors can learn about the history of the area and enjoy the breathtaking views of this incredible geologic feature.

10. The Pacific Crest Trail
The trail stretches from northern Canada down to Mexico, running through Washington and Oregon and gives hikers an amazing and unique view of the Pacific Coast’s treasures.

11. The Pacific Flyway
It is a bird lovers’ dream, with thousands of birds each year migrating through between Patagonia to Alaska.Maintaining flyways like this is crucial for the survival of wildlife!

Looking out at the Cascades from the summit of Mt Rainier, credit: Bryn Fluharty

12. The High Desert in Oregon
A visit to the High Desert is a must. This amazing geologic area covers a quarter of the state. It is a stark, yet diverse landscape that is home to abundant flora and fauna.

13. Cannon Beach
It is hard not to stand in awe of the giant pillars of rock that rise out of the Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach in Oregon. Romance runs over the rocky shores while looking out over a sunset on the Pacific. If dinner on the beach is not for you there are many other opportunities to go out and explore the coast! Columbia River Gorge offer amazing recreational opportunities.

14. The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
Located in Oregon and California, this National Forest covers both the Cascade and the Siskiyou Mountains, featuring wild rivers, great fishing and amazing biodiversity.

The Columbia River on the OR-WA border, credit: Bryn Fluharty

These amazing places are available to us because of conservation efforts throughout the years. We need to continue to support conservation efforts in order to maintain what we have and protect wild areas like these from threats such as mining, development and a climate change. Glaciers throughout the region are melting at accelerated rates, which threatens both the beauty and ecosystems of the mountains and also the water supply for areas such as the Yakima Valley.

We here in the Pacific Northwest love our land! Want to share your love?  Connect with us on Facebook to share your photos or stories, or comment below!