We’ve all asked (and answered) the classic vacation question: The mountains or the shore? As it happens, we feel strongly both ways. But after publishing our Ultimate Coast Guide three years ago, we knew we had created an obvious imperative. And so we present our paean to Washington’s magnificent mountains. Why? Well, to paraphrase the famous quotation of British mountaineer George Mallory, partly because they’re there. But, more precisely, because they are ours. Here in Seattle, mountains inform our lives, whether we spend time hiking up them, skiing down them, or driving through them. (Some of us never set foot on them—see page 152—and that’s OK, too.) With brawny assertiveness, the Cascade Range extends from northern California into southern British Columbia, a splendid serration of accessible beauty. In Washington, the range is both barrier—physical, climatological, even political—and unifier, bringing millions to its forested slopes every year in search of sumptuous scenery, sweet solitude and soft snow. West of Seattle, the Olympic Range—whose glorious peaks never cease to impress us on a clear day—is a more distant tease, requiring a trip across (or around) Puget Sound to reach its remote retreats. Our lease agreement on all of these geological marvels comes with infinitely flexible terms—from an intimacy encouraged by frequent and fervent contact to an arm’s-length relationship more comfortable with postcard views. Whatever the depth of the attraction, it is as steadfast as the mountains themselves.
9 Can't-miss Peaks:From irresistable Mount Rainier to restless Mount St. Helens, a peek at our favorite snow-capped goliaths
Local Ski Resorts & Crowd-Free Trails: Six hot spots for going downhill this ski season and less crowded alternatives to the usual trails
Mountain Lore: From canyon to cave, the Sasquatch legend persists
Thar She Blows! A Glance at Washington's volcanos: Eye-popping mountain views come with a serious price tag
When Animals Attack: From experienced to novice, remember: safety first!
5 Driveable Summits: Some people respond to the call of the wild with a sharpened stick and a bag of granola
New to the Outdoors? Our 101 on Getting Started: We navigate where and how to get started on your beginner mountain treks
Washington's Mountain Vacation Homes: Looking for a vacation home or a weekend rental close to the mountains? Here's an idea of what's available