We built this tour to give explorers the full National Park hiking experience in Washington. If you want to see all that world-class Washington trails have to offer, this is your tour. We get our blood flowing right away with hikes in the secluded and pristine North Cascades NP, with its jagged peaks, crystal clear alpine lakes, and lightly-trafficked trails.
Then, skirting the east side of the Cascades, we’ll take time to appreciate the Bavarian hamlet of Leavenworth with some adventures options before continuing to Mt. Rainier. We’ll thoroughly explore the massive old growth forests and glacier vistas along the best trails on this monolithic volcano that’s the definitive Seattle icon. Next up is hike deep into the varied splendor of Olympic National Park with its rugged beaches, stunning alpine views from Hurricane Ridge, and magical Hoh Rainforest.
Day 1: North Cascades National Park
Diablo Lake, Cascade Pass, & Methow Valley
We’ll leave Seattle in our rearview mirror as we head north to one of the least visited National Parks in the USA–the North Cascades! Frequently referred to as the “North American Alps,” this region is the largest wilderness area in the northwestern half of the state. With spectacular peaks, glacial-carved valleys, cascading waterfalls, and turquoise lakes, the beauty found here is boundless. We’ll explore a tucked-away trail known as Cascade Pass for the best introduction to everything the North Cascades has to offer. If we’re lucky, we may spot local wildlife on these rocky slopes, often visited by deer, bear, and mountain goats.
Walking Distances: 7 miles (1800′ elevation gain)
Accommodations: Sun Mountain Lodge
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Day 2: Leavenworth & Mt. Rainier
Free time in Leavenworth, Mount Rainier’s Ancient Forests
Explore the quaint town of Leavenworth, where Bavaria found its home in the west. Washingtonian’s escape to this town year-round for its abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities. Today, we’ll enjoy some unscheduled fun, so everyone explores at their own speed. That may be enjoying a stein of beer and brats for lunch and wandering the town, or spending the day on the water, rafting, kayaking, or peacefully floating down the Wenatchee. There is something for everyone in this secluded mountain town! We’ll transition in the afternoon to our next destination, Mt. Rainier National Park, and take advantage of the late evening sun with a stroll through Rainier’s most famous stand of evergreens: Grove of the Patriarchs.
Walking Distances: 2 to 4 miles
Accommodations: Cowlitz River Lodge
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Day 3: Mt. Rainier National Park
Paradise & Camp Muir -or- Sunrise & Burroughs Mountain
Today we are presented with two options for hiking and exploring Mt. Rainier – the southwestern side or northeastern side. This is our day to go for miles and get our heart rates going!
Paradise to Camp Muir
Hike up the flanks of Mt. Rainier today, starting at the iconic Paradise Inn and heading towards Camp Muir. Setting out into the meadows provides ample opportunities to observe wildlife and admire wildflowers. As you gain elevation, you’ll be afforded panoramic views of neighboring volcanoes and mountain ranges such as the lesser known, Tatoosh.
Burroughs Mountain Loop Via Glacier Basin
Departing down the Glacier Basin Trail from the Sunrise Visitor Center, we’ll work our way around a clockwise loop connecting with the Burroughs Mountain Trail. Featuring snow until mid-July, you can observe the various stages of plant life where meadows have finally emerged from a long, harsh winter. Mt. Rainier will appear so close from this vantage point it’ll be hard to believe you’re still less than halfway up this mountain. It feels as if you could reach out and touch her. The trail travels past Emmons Glacier, the largest glacier in the continental US, and up more than 3000 feet of elevation to the barren landscape of Burroughs Mountain.
This evening, we’ll enjoy a well earned dinner at the iconic Paradise Lodge Dining Room.
Walking Distances: 6 miles (1600′ elevation gain) or 10 miles (3200′ elevation gain)
Accommodations: Cowlitz River Lodge
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Day 4: Olympic National Park
Lake Quinault, Pacific Ocean, and Kalaloch & Rialto Beaches
As we transition from Mt. Rainier to Olympic National Park, we’ll drive west to exit the Cascade Mountains and make our way to the Pacific Coast. We’ll stop to enjoy lunch at Lake Quinault to break up the drive. The Quinault River Basin is home to some of the largest Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, and Sitka Spruce trees in the world—you’ll be itching to get out of the van and stretch your legs amongst these peaceful giants. Our next stop is Kalaloch Lodge, our home for the next two nights. Situated on the bluffs of the Pacific, this evening you’ll have time take in the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore or join your guide for an option trip up to the famous Rialto Beach to eatch the colors of the sunset change over the ocean.
Walking Distances: 2-4 miles (200′ elevation gain)
Accommodations: Kalaloch Lodge
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Day 5: Olympic National Park
The Hoh Rainforest
Immerse yourself in one of the largest tracts of temperate rainforest remaining in the world! While we can get in thousands of steps today if we choose, this hike is also one for observation and reflection. On the Hoh River Trail, we can take our time standing underneath massive, moss-laden maple trees, breathing in some deliciously fresh air, and watching our steps for Banana Slugs. This is also one of the best places to see Roosevelt Elk up close. There is a lot of flexibility in mileage today! Limit your walking by taking time to explore microscopic lichen and fungi and searching for salmon fry in the surrounding tributaries or take advantage of the low elevation trail to put in the miles.
Walking Distances: 2 to 10 miles (flexible options)
Accommodations: Kalaloch Lodge
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Day 6: Olympic National Park
Lake Crescent, Elwha River Valley, & Hurricane Ridge
This morning we’ll depart the Pacific Coast, and head northeast to explore the blue topaz waters of Lake Crescent. Take a cold dip in the lake or opt to join a 2-mile hike to Marymere Falls. Afterward, we will head up to the highest point in the Olympics accessibly by car—Hurricane Ridge. Nearly a mile high in elevation, the species dwelling here have adapted to these extreme changes in environment. For our final hike of the trip, we’ll traverse the famous Hurricane Hill Trail. Enjoy 360-degree views of the Olympic Mountains, Vancouver Island, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca from this vantage point before driving east and catching a ferry into the Emerald City.
Walking Distances: 3 to 5 miles
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Washington’s National Parks Tour Details
Discovering the eye-popping blues of glacial lakes in the North Cascades. Refreshing in the rapids of the Wenatchee River tucked between epic peaks.
Breathing in the fresh mountain air of the Cascades as you climb toward 10,000-ft. Lunching on the trails of Sunrise with an unbeatable view of Mt. Rainier.
Slowing down in the Hoh Rain Forest, exploring the lush trees and mosses, keeping ears and eyes peeled for Roosevelt Elk. Walking for miles along the glacial-fed waters of the Hoh River descending from Mount Olympus.
Playing on the beaches, scrambling over rocks and driftwood in search of sea creatures. Taking in a Pacific Coast sunset on rugged, driftwood strewn beaches, unkempt and wild compared to their southern cousins.
Jumping into the crystal clear waters of Lake Crescent if you're brave! Reveling in the panoramic views of Vancouver Island, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge.
A TripAdvisor 'Hall of Fame' guide.
National Park entry fees.
Overnight accommodations at Sun Mountain Lodge for one night, Cowlitz River Lodge for two nights & Kalaloch Lodge for two nights.
Local, organic picnic lunches - served outside when the weather is right.
Most meals are included: 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners (1 lunch on your own in Leavenworth, WA).
Pick up and drop off in downtown Seattle.
All ferry fees and transportation.
Snacks, water, sparkling water, local wine, local adult beverages available throughout the tour.
Sun Mountain Lodge
Escape for the evening into the Methow Valley on the periphery of North Cascades National Park. Take advantage of the late summer sun and relax with beautiful views, refresh with a dip in the lodge pool, or stretch your legs and explore the property. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms, WiFi, and plush robes! The lodge also boasts a restaurant, bar and spa.
Kalaloch Lodge is one of the iconic resorts within Olympic National Park. The Main Lodge was built almost 100 years ago with driftwood collected from Washington’s wild coast. For two days you’ll stay just feet from Pacific bluffs and beachfront, climbing over driftwood and the small streams that dump fresh water into the ocean.
The lodge has a delicious restaurant featuring Washington ingredients, a mercantile, and provides daily bundles of firewood for those staying in rooms with fireplaces!
Cowlitz River Lodge
This will be your home base for two evenings while you explore Mt. Rainier National Park! Cozy up by the fireplace in the great room at the end of the day and enjoy a night cap. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms, WiFi, peace and quiet!
Six Breakfasts: Pastries, fruit, coffee & tea on Day One, restaurant breakfast at Sun Mountain Lodge on Day Two, hotel continental breakfast on Days Three & Four, restaurant breakfast at Kalaloch Lodge on Days Five & Six.
Five Lunches: Local, organic picnic lunches served outside in the National Park or lunch at a local family-owned restaurant. Enjoy one lunch on your own while exploring in Leavenworth.
Five Dinners: Four restaurant dinners and one beachside campfire dinner prepared by your guide.
Snacks, water, sparkling water, local wine and other adult beverages available throughout the tour.