National Park Service units stretch from the Pacific to the Palouse

The North Head Lighthouse and Cape Disappointment State Park are part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park.
The North Head Lighthouse and Cape Disappointment State Park are part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park. Staff file, 2009

There are 17 National Park Service units in the state. They protect natural wonders, ancient geological history and sites that reflect darker times in the nation’s history. Here is a capsule look at each unit:

Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve

Info: Coupeville, nps.gov/ebla.

The reserve on Whidbey Island is a partnership that helps preserve historical, agricultural and cultural traditions of native and Euro-Americans, while providing recreational opportunities.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Info: Vancouver, Washington; nps.gov/fova.

The park sits close to the north bank of the Columbia River. It began as a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading post on the frontier, then became an important part of the region’s military legacy, including aviation.

Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail

Info: Kettle Falls, with other sites in Oregon, Idaho and Montana; nps.gov/iafl.

When created, this was the first national geologic trail in the nation. Still being developed, the trail will include the Channeled Scablands, Dry Falls and Grand Coulee, created during floods 12,000-17,000 years ago.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park-Seattle Unit

Info: Seattle, nps.gov/klse.

This urban unit tells the story of the stampede to the Yukon gold fields and the crucial role Seattle played at that time. The interpretive center and museum are in the Cadillac Hotel in Pioneer Square.

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

Info: Stehekin, nps.gov/noca.

Part of the North Cascades National Park Complex, this area is accessible by foot, boat or floatplane. The area includes the northern part of Lake Chelan. The small community at the head of the lake, Stehekin, is the hub for recreational opportunities in the area.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area

Info: Coulee Dam, nps.gov/laro.

The focal point of the recreation area is the 130-mile-long lake, stretching from behind Grand Coulee Dam to the Canadian border. The recreation area offers boating, fishing, swimming, camping, canoeing and hunting.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Info: Multiple sites, nps.gov/lecl.

Washington is one of 11 states through which the trail passes as it tells the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Washington sites include Sacajawea State Park Interpretive Center, Lewis and Clark Trail State Park, and Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

Info: Long Beach to Cannon Beach, Oregon; nps.gov/lewi.

Locations on both sides of the Columbia River tell how the Corps of Discovery spent its time along the Pacific Coast, and also of the native Indians who lived in the region. Washington sites include Cape Disappointment State Park, with its Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Station Camp and Dismal Nitch.

Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Info: Hanford, plus Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Los Alamos, New Mexico; nps.gov/mapr.

The newest unit in Washington, the Hanford site and the other two locations tell about the effort to create the atomic bomb during World War II. The Hanford site includes the B Reactor National Historic Landmark, where the material for the Trinity test and plutonium bomb was produced.

Minidoka National Historic Site

Info: Bainbridge Island and Jerome, Idaho; nps.gov/miin, bainbridgehistory.org.

The site documents the single largest forced relocation in U.S. history, as people of Japanese ancestry were removed from their West Coast homes during World War II and sent to this internment camp in remote Idaho, one of 10 that were set up. The Bainbridge Island Historical Museum has an exhibit that honors those people.

Mount Rainier National Park

Info: Ashford, nps.gov/mora.

Rising 14,411 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier is the iconic image of Washington’s landscape. The park is equally famous for its subalpine meadows that explode into color as the wildflowers blossom. The park was created in 1899, the fifth national park in the nation.

Nez Perce National Historical Park

Info: Sites in Nespelem, as well as Oregon, Idaho and Montana; nps.gov/nepe.

The parks trace the story of the Nez Perce, following their route during the 1877 conflict with the Army. The Washington sites are the Nez Perce campsites and cemetery on the Colville Indian Reservation.

North Cascade National Park

Info: Sedro-Woolley and Newhalem, nps.gov/noca.

This park is known for its alpine landscapes. The park’s jagged peaks are capped by more than 300 glaciers. It is a place where one can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The complex, which includes the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan national recreation areas, has more than 400 miles of trails.

Olympic National Park

Info: Port Angeles, nps.gov/olym.

This park is known for its vastly different ecosystems, including a rainforest where it averages 13 feet of rain a year, rugged ocean coastline and interior mountains. Some of the park’s best known destinations include the Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach and the alpine setting at Hurricane Ridge.

Oregon National Historic Trail

Info: Sites in seven states, nps.gov/oreg.

The historic trail traces the more than 2,000 miles early American settlers traveled as they made their way from Independence, Missouri, to what is now Vancouver, Washington and Portland.

Ross Lake National Recreation Area

Info: Sedro-Woolley and Newhalem, nps.gov/noca.

The area follows the Skagit River from the Canadian border to the western foothills of the Cascades. It is known for the North Cascades Highway and its three reservoirs.

San Juan Island National Historical Park

Info: Friday Harbor, nps.gov/sajh.

Located on San Juan Island, the park is known for its scenic vistas of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, saltwater shoreline, woodlands, the chance to see orcas and one of the last remaining native prairies in the Puget Sound region.

Whitman Mission National Historic Site

Info: Walla Walla, nps.gov/whmi.

The park tells the story of the Whitman family living among the Cayuse Indians from 1836 until the 1847 attack on the mission. The exhibits tell of people on both sides, as well as the debate on whether the killing of the Whitmans justified legal retribution, an act of revenge or a combination of both.