©Asif Islam/Shutterstock

Washington Cascades

Grafted onto one of the more temperamental segments of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Washington Cascades are a rugged, spectacular mountain range capped by five potentially lethal volcanoes: Mt Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt Rainier, Mt Adams and – fieriest of all – Mt St Helens.

Renowned for their world record–breaking precipitation and copious crevasse-covered glaciers, the highest Cascade peaks are vast stand-alone mountains that dominate almost every vista in the western state and create scrubby, almost desert-like conditions further east.

Protected within a string of overlapping wilderness areas and national parks, the mountains offer some of the most awe-inspiring backcountry adventures in the US, if you don't mind bedding down in a tent and liberally dousing yourself in bug repellent. For the less outdoor-attuned, rarefied Cascadian beauty can be glimpsed through the windows of cars, buses and trains, or enjoyed in a handful of classic 'parkitecture' lodges.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Washington Cascades.

Featured videos

Which US national park is right for you?

3:06