Smothered with dense forests of fir, cedar and cypress, WASHINGTON really is the “Evergreen State”, rich in natural beauty, national parks and – inconveniently – heavy rain that sweeps in from the Pacific, at least west of the Cascades. Likeable and vibrant, Seattle contains some of the state’s most popular attractions, though its greatest asset may be its proximity to glorious Puget Sound, the deep-water inlet around which much of the population of Washington lives. To the west is the Olympic Peninsula, whose mountains are home to elk and lush vegetation that merges into rainforest, and whose rustic beaches have remained pristine and protected. A few hours south lies the awe-inspiring peak of Mount Rainier and the eye-opening volcanic scenery of Mount St Helens.
Dry and desolate, the sprawling prairie-plateau that makes up most of eastern Washington is a great, bleak expanse enlivened by the pleasant city of Spokane and the colossal Grand Coulee Dam. Otherwise you’re only likely to come out here if you’re travelling the Cascade loop, a spectacular four-hundred-mile round-trip drive through the snow-capped Cascade Mountains.