The Pacific Northwest has long drawn travelers seeking an exciting escape to remote(ish) destinations. In the State of Washington, it’s never been easier to go off the grid for a couple hours, a couple days, or however long your overscheduled-self needs. From temperate rainforests where ancient trees stretch toward the sky to lakeside villages with no vehicle access, there are endless corners of the state offering solitude, seclusion, and stellar views. All it takes to start exploring is a tank of gas and a sense of adventure.
1. Rent A Cabin In Skagit Valley
The State of Washington’s Skagit Valley, a mere hour and 15 minute drive from Seattle, is known for its picturesque farmland, where more than 90 crops — from berries to potatoes — are grown. Make one of the 27 new Getaway cabins (rustic tiny homes with all the essentials, and the option to lock your cell phone away) scattered across 69 acres, your home base to explore the fertile fields (especially in April, when the tulips bloom!). You can also consider a farm stay, such as Blanchard Mountain Farm in the Samish Flats of Bow, Washington or The Gooserosa B&B Farm Stay in Mount Vernon, to get a taste of Skagit-style agrarian life.
2. Hike To Third Beach
The State of Washington’s natural beauty is best experienced on a path less traveled. Third Beach, a sandy strip of Pacific shoreline about four hours from Seattle, is only accessible via a 1.4-mile trek through Olympic National Park, starting just off Highway 101 (groups are capped at 12 people and parking is limited, so carpool if you can). The trail, surrounded by giant trees and lush greenery often shrouded in fog, starts out wide and graveled, then narrows to a dirt single track as it descends to the beach. Once there, take in the uninterrupted ocean scenes; if you’re lucky, you might spot bald eagles, seals, or (during October, March, and April) migrating whales.
3. Backpack Through The Salmo-Priest Wilderness
Nestled in the extreme reaches of northeastern Washington (a three-hour drive from Spokane, and close to the U.S.-Canadian border) is the Salmo-Priest Wilderness, 43,350 acres of untouched forest. Intrepid explorers can spend several days backpacking the 19-mile Salmo-Priest Loop, an area so remote, grizzly bears have been spotted there. In the spring, the hillsides are covered in wildflowers; year-round, you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping vistas of the surrounding Selkirk Mountains. For a lower-key option, day hikers can whet their taste for the region on the rarely trafficked, 8.4-mile Crowell Ridge, which also boasts expansive views of pine forests and rocky fields.
4. Travel To Stehekin
Visit one of America’s most charmingly isolated communities, tucked deep in the heart of the North Cascades. Stehekin — home to around 100 permanent residents — serves as the gateway to North Cascades National Park, one of the least-visited national parks in the system. Why so few tourists? You can only reach the village via foot, boat, or floatplane from Lake Chelan, 55 miles away (day trips are possible: ferries allow for three-, four-and-a-half-, or six-hour layovers in town). While there, hike into the valley or park; try your hand at fly-fishing on the Stehekin River; or kayak, canoe, or paddleboard along the lakeshore for spectacular mountain sights.
5. Visit Goldmyer Hot Springs
There’s no shortage of geothermal springs in the State of Washington, but for a more intimate experience, head to the Goldmyer Hot Springs, just 60 miles east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascades/Alpine Lakes Wilderness. After a 15-mile drive down an unpaved forest service road, you’ll have to hike four-and-a-half more miles to reach the springs — a trek that will make your soak feel that much more luxurious. There’s no cellular or internet connection available (a nice perk that keeps you in the moment), and you’ll have to carry in any supplies you might want. Heads up: You’ll need a reservation, as only 20 people are allowed in each day. The payoff: serious peace and quiet.
6. Explore Steptoe Butte State Park Heritage Site
Look out over the undulating landscape of the Palouse — an hour’s drive from Spokane and two hours from Walla Walla — and it’s unlikely you’ll see another person. Instead, feast your eyes on rolling hills (formed over tens of thousands of years from windblown dust and silt) that stretch across nearly 3,000 square miles of southeastern Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. Hike 6.4 miles (or drive) to the top of Steptoe Butte, a 3,612-foot high quartzite bluff in the middle of a 168-acre state park, at sunset for the best perspective of this geographical wonder, along with panoramas of the Blue, Selkirk, and Bitterroot mountains.