Seattle is a city rich in history and culture. But if you get tired of the hustle and bustle, consider venturing out to one of Seattle’s nearby national parks. Visitors can explore different aspects of Seattle and the surrounding area, from the Klondike Gold Rush to the mighty Mount Rainier towering above Seattle.
There’s something for everyone at these parks, making them a must-see for adventurers and history buffs alike. Let’s take a closer look!
How Many National Parks Are in Seattle?
In total, there are 17 national park service units in Washington. These include historical reserves and parks, recreation areas, historic trails and sites, and of course, national parks. And with many of these national park service units surrounding Seattle, they are all often claimed as Seattle national parks.
While the three official national parks aren’t in Seattle proper, Olympic, North Cascades, and Rainer are all worth your time. But Seattle is proud to have other national park sites nearby, including one in Seattle proper—the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
There are also Nez Pearce, Lewis and Clark, and Manhattan Project National Historical Parks that deserve your attention. They’re all within less than a day’s drive from Seattle.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Seattle National Parks?
The best time to visit Seattle national parks is during the late spring and summer. The trails are open, the flowers are blooming, and the days are long. Summer is beautiful, and everyone knows this, so there will be crowds. To make the best of your summer visit to Seattle national parks, arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon and visit during weekdays instead of weekends.
Be aware, though, that even in the summer months, the weather can be fickle. At higher elevations, storms are possible, so be prepared for rain and quite possibly summer snow. It can be stifling hot in the summers at lower elevations, with temperatures reaching above 90 degrees.
If you’re not looking forward to the crowds and don’t mind a bit of chill in the air, love vibrant fall colors, or burgeoning spring green buds, then you may want to consider visiting during the spring and fall. You may have fewer amenities available to you, but there will also be fewer people.
7 Awesome National Parks to Visit From Seattle
Each of Washington’s national park sites has its own unique landscape and history. Visitors can explore lush rainforests, view sprawling glaciers and jagged peaks, and hike along coastlines. There are also many opportunities to learn about the history of the area and the people that first settled the raw and beautiful lands that make up Washington state.
With all of them less than a six-hour drive from Seattle, and many of them less than three, getting out into the wilds and historical places that define Washington is as easy as getting into your car for a day trip.
Olympic National Park
Address: 3002 Mt Angeles Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98362
About: Olympic National Park is Seattle’s most popular national park. Located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the park is accessible by ferry or vehicle. With over 70 miles of coastline and a million acres to explore, there is plenty to see and do in Olympic National Park.
The park offers over 10 campgrounds, as well as backcountry camping options. There are also numerous hiking and climbing trails, along with opportunities for water activities such as boating, rafting, and kayaking.
Not only that, but Olympic National Park is home to the famous Hoh Rainforest. Receiving over 140 inches of rain annually, you’ll find massive trees, lush plant life, and hiking like you’ve never experienced before.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9.5/10 – Ranked one of the best national parks due to its remote location in the Pacific Northwest. Combine that with the Hoh Rainforest, and Olympic National Park isn’t just a place to hike. It’s a place to experience.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for these 23 Best Olympic National Park Animals on your next adventure!
Mount Rainier National Park
Address: 39000 State Route 706 E., Ashford, WA 98304
About: Mount Rainier National Park is a stunning natural landscape located just a short drive from Seattle. At 14,410 ft high, Mount Rainier is an active volcano and is the tallest peak in the Cascade Range. The park boasts 236,000 acres of pristine wilderness.
Whether you’re looking for hiking trails, camping opportunities, scenic viewpoints, or outdoor activities like fishing and climbing, Mount Rainier has something for everyone. And with two campgrounds, two inns, and backcountry camping options, there’s no shortage of places to stay while exploring all that Mount Rainier offers.
But one of the most sought-after things to explore in Mount Rainier is the beauty of the mountain itself. Don’t miss out on exploring the Paradise and Sunrise areas where you can truly enjoy the majestic Mount Rainier.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10 – For the stunning giant that defines this Seattle National Park. Mount Rainier can be seen from Seattle and seems to rise out of nowhere, towering above the lands. This is a top-rated park near Seattle and all across the nation.
North Cascades National Park
Address: 810 State Rte 20, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284
About: North Cascades National Park is a beautiful and awe-inspiring Seattle national park in northwestern Washington, including Chelan and Ross Lake National Recreation Areas. With towering waterfalls, glacier-capped peaks, and abundant wildlife, the park offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. That includes boating, biking, fishing, hiking, climbing, and horseback riding. There are even campgrounds specifically for bikers and boaters.
One paved road runs through the park—the scenic North Cascades Highway—which is a popular route for sightseeing. Additionally, there is the small unique community of Stehekin at the northern end of Lake Chelan, which you can only access by foot and attracts many backpackers who use it as a starting or ending point for their hikes.
Whether you’re looking to spend time outdoors among some of the most breathtaking natural scenery in the country or simply want to explore one of Seattle’s many national parks, North Cascades National Park is an excellent choice.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9/10 – North Cascades is ranked high for its lack of crowds and abundant beauty. But really, where else can you find a community of like-minded nature-loving people you can only access by hiking to it? Be sure to visit Stehekin at the northern end of Lake Chelan to truly experience this Seattle national park.
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Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Address: 319 Second Ave S., Seattle, WA 98104
About: Seattle is home to many national parks, but one of the most unique is the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. This urban park is located in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood and is full of history and interesting things to see and do.
Visitors can learn about the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800s at the park’s visitor center, museum, and self-guided walking tour. The park also features a self-guided film tour of Seattle’s early history.
Whether you’re interested in Seattle history or just looking for a unique place to visit, this Seattle national park is definitely worth checking out.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 7/10 – For its easy accessibility within an urban setting. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park may not be out in nature, but it easily brings history and nature to you. It’s like having a national park classroom right in your backyard.
Nez Perce National Historical Park
Address: 39063 US Hwy 95, Lapwai, ID 83540-9715
About: It’s in four states across the western US (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington). Nez Perce National Historical Park is dedicated to commemorating and preserving the rich history and culture of the Nez Perce people. Originally a nomadic tribe, the Nez Perce traveled with the seasons between hunting buffalo on the Great Plains and fishing for salmon along the many rivers.
Today, this Seattle national park serves as an important tribute to one of America’s most historic indigenous groups. Whether you’re interested in learning more about their culture or exploring natural landscapes, Nez Perce National Historical Park has something for everyone. So why not head out today and discover this uniquely American treasure?
Morton Road Trip Rating: 7/10 – Ranked for its cultural history and preservation. Nez Perce isn’t just one national park service unit. Its location across four states makes learning more about history easy to access.
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
Address: 92343 Fort Clatsop Rd., Astoria, OR 97103
About: Lewis and Clark National Historical Park is located along the coast of both Oregon and Washington. This park commemorates the journey of Lewis and Clark as they explored the Pacific Northwest.
It spans sites along the Columbia River and the Pacific Coast. It’s also a great place to hike, paddle, fish, or learn about history. If you’re looking for a Seattle-area national park that has something for adventurers and history buffs, be sure to check out Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8/10 – Ranked for its outdoor and historical attractions. Not only can you learn about and follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, but you’ll also experience the beauty of their path along the way while hiking, biking, and paddling.
Manhattan Project National Historical Park
Address: 2000 Logston Blvd., Richland, WA 99354
About: The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is a must-visit for anyone interested in the United States’ nuclear program history. The park is located in three states—New Mexico, Washington, and Tennessee. It contains several historic sites related to developing the world’s first atomic bombs.
Atomic weapons were first produced in three secret communities across the nation. That includes one in Hanford, Wash., where they made plutonium in a secret factory. Visitors can now tour the Hanford site to learn about the history and impact of some of the first atomic weapons.
Whether you’re a history buff or just curious about this fascinating chapter in American history, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park is worth a visit.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8/10 – Where else can you learn about nuclear weapons, the secrets behind them, and when they first became a part of the nation’s response to war? This Seattle national park is unique, educational, and may make you wonder what other secrets are out there.
Pro Tip: After exploring the national parks close to Seattle, head to the city and check out these Things To Do in Seattle.
What Is the Most Visited National Park in Washington?
Olympic National Park is located west of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula. It is the most visited national park in Washington, drawing over 3 million visitors each year. With its diverse terrain and lack of roads, it’s no wonder that this beautiful park is so popular among nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Whether you’re exploring the lush forests and rugged coastlines or admiring the dramatic mountain peaks and clear lakes, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Olympic National Park. So if you’re looking for an unspoiled landscape to explore and experience first-hand, be sure to check out this breathtaking national park today!
Which Seattle National Parks Will You Visit?
Whether it’s history, education, or adventure you crave, our national parks have something to offer everyone. With Seattle being so close to many of these amazing places, there’s no excuse not to get outside and explore.
Have you visited any of these Seattle national parks? What was your favorite part? Where will you go next? Tell us in the comments!
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