Washington advertises itself as the forest-clad Evergreen State. Actually, vast eastern portions of it are reclaimed from sagebrush desert by irrigation. The Cascade Range is a weather barrier that confines most of the rain to the Puget Sound area, which is a world of green.
Other parts of the state boast outstanding attractions: hundreds of lakes, parklike pine woods, Grand Coulee Dam, the Columbia River with one-day to week-long cruises, the wine region of the southeast, and Mount St. Helens. But the main magnet for visitors is the Puget Sound area.
The Sound's islands, bays, and channels are backdropped by two mountain ranges and the massive, 14,410-foot Mount Rainier. Two-thirds of the state's population live in Seattle and other urban centers along this inner sea coastline.
There are three national parks around Seattle: Rainier with its glaciers, the primitive North Cascades, and Olympic, with its dramatic rain forests and wilderness strip along the Pacific Ocean. Trips to Vancouver, British Columbia, and to nearby ski areas are also popular. One can cruise the Sound or the San Juan Islands on numerous ferries. From spring to late fall daily excursions run to Victoria, British Columbia.
Everywhere, except in the agricultural expanse of the Columbia basin, campers and hikers are within sight of mountains beckoning them to trails. State parks and forest service campgrounds serve as base camps. This region has a rapidly growing wine industry, with tours available at many premium wineries, and is a mecca for fishing and boating. While tourists from other states head for western Washington to enjoy a spring-like summer, westside residents leave their emerald environment, cross the Cascades to parks and lakes settled in basalt coulees, and swim and revel in the hot, dry air of the eastern part of the state.