The 8 Best National (and State) Parks Near Seattle

Seattle, located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, is surrounded by a wide range of national and state parks offering diverse recreational opportunities. I’m fortunate enough to grow up and live in the Seattle Area, where I can access many amazing parks to experience nature. As a result, I’ve been hiking and doing outdoor activities in general for pretty much my entire life.

So, whether you’re looking to hike through old-growth forests, paddle along a serene lake, or explore the rugged coastline, a park near Seattle has something for everyone. Here are the  best national (and state) parks near Seattle:

Mount Rainer in the distance on a clear, beautiful day.

Our List of Best Parks Near Seattle

  1. Mount Rainier National Park
  2. Olympic National Park
  3. North Cascades National Park
  4. Snoqualmie Falls State Park
  5. Deception Pass State Park
  6. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
  7. San Juan Island National Historical Park
  8. Lake Sammamish State Park

1. Mount Rainier National Park

Gorgeous winter day with Mt. Rainer towering in the sky.

Just a short 1.5-hour drive from Seattle, this park offers various recreational opportunities, including hiking, climbing, and skiing. The park is home to the majestic Mount Rainier, an active volcano that is the highest peak in the state. This is a medium-sized park covering 236,000 acres of land. It also includes many facilities like visitor centers, museums, restaurants, hotels, and more.

This park is known for its stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems, including old-growth forests, alpine meadows, and a rugged coastline. You can buy the annual pass for just $55, and if you want to go camping or use their RV dump stations, that will incur an additional fee.

2. Olympic National Park

Puget Sounds surrounded by the Olympic National Park.

The Olympic National Park is located about a two-hour drive from Seattle and is known for its stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems, including old-growth forests, alpine meadows, and a rugged coastline. It has over one million acres of beautiful nature. 

This park has three visitor centers and 16 campgrounds where you can go boating, fishing, skiing, and much more.

The park is home to the majestic Mount Rainier, an active volcano that is the highest peak in the state, reaching over 14,000 feet tall. The annual pass is also $55 for one car, although there are less expensive options, like the $30 seven-day pass, along with others.

3. North Cascades National Park

Located about one hour north of Seattle, this park is home to some of the most rugged and beautiful mountains in the country. The park offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, climbing, and backpacking. It also has a lot of land, covering over 680,000 acres.

It is entirely free to enter the North Cascade National Park. When I go here, I love to do guided tours of the glaciers. I also visit the North Cascades Institute each time I go here. It offers educational programs, such as natural history courses, field seminars, and youth camps. 

4. Snoqualmie Falls State Park

Snoqualmie Falls dropping large amount of water.

This park, located just outside of Seattle, is home to the stunning Snoqualmie Falls, a 468-foot waterfall that is a popular destination for hikers and sightseers. 

You can enter free of charge as well. I like to hike through the park’s beautiful forests and meadows, which are home to various plant and animal life.

5. Deception Pass State Park

Pacific Ocean with waves rolling in

Located on the northern tip of Whidbey Island, this park offers a range of recreational opportunities, including hiking, boating, and fishing. The park is known for its rugged coastline and stunning views of the San Juan Islands.

You’ll need a Discover Pass to enter the Deception Pass State Park, which costs $30 for a year or $10 for a day. I typically go during one of the free days, which are holidays like MLK Day and Veterans Day. 

My favorite thing to do here is a boat tour of the park’s waterways, which offer a chance to see various marine life and explore the park’s beautiful islands and bays.

6. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Mount St. Helens peaking over a lake on a nice spring day

This park, located about two hours south of Seattle, offers a unique opportunity to explore the aftermath of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The park is home to a variety of hiking trails, as well as a visitors center that provides information about the history of the eruption.

It is $8 for everyone over 15 to enter the park. You can go to the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, which offers a range of interactive exhibits and educational programs about the history and geology of the mountain.

7. San Juan Island National Historical Park

Located on San Juan Island, this park preserves the island’s history, including the story of the Pig War and a border dispute between the United States and Great Britain.

This is another free park, so you won’t have to break the bank to have a good time here. This military site is where you can visit the English and American Camps. You can also do many activities like hiking, birdwatching, and tide-pooling. 

8. Lake Sammamish State Park

Sun peaking through the trees in Lake Sammamish State Park.

This park, located just outside of Seattle, offers a range of recreational activities, including swimming, boating, hiking, and even rollerblading. The park is also home to several wetlands and is a popular destination for birdwatching.

You’ll need a Discover Pass to enter this park. There are a bunch of fun physical activities you can do in this park.

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