Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard

La-Wis-Wis-400-300x225Do you know folks from Seattle and Portland who consider Lewis County their own backyard for outdoor recreation? We might be so close to it that we can’t even see what we have to explore and discover right here in our own backyard. So, save your gas, save your time and head out for a day or two, right here in Lewis County.

Let’s start with outdoor recreation. Then we can talk about the museums. By that time you will looking for a place to eat and if you have traveled to Packwood, you will want to stay another day to visit our very own national park and monument.

We are fortunate to have some of the most pristine lakes and rivers in the state. The Cowlitz River is a world renowned fishing spot. Whether guided by experts or your own instincts, you could be rewarded with a delicious meal of steelhead or salmon. Perhaps trout is your favorite. Try Mineral Lake or Carlisle Lake this April, or find that special fishing hole in Mayfield or Mossyrock Lakes.

Mayfield-400-300x200Looking for boating activities or camping spots, Lewis County boasts three State Parks, Ike Kinswa, Lewis & Clark and Rainbow Falls. In addition, Tacoma Power offers Mossyrock Park, Mayfield County Park, and Tiadnapam Park. As if that isn’t enough, Lewis County PUD maintains, the Bud Allen Park and Lake Scanewa Parks.

Just about 1 hour from I-5 headed east on the White Pass Scenic Byway at Randle, you will begin to find a large collection of forest service campgrounds and dispersed camping in the vicinity of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams. Is it possible that you have never seen Mt. St. Helens from the Windy Ridge viewpoint? It is just about 1 hour south of Randle on FS Rd. 25. This is the wild side of Mt. St. Helens where you will see the blown down timber and find a hike to Spirit Lake. A new information station is being opened in July this summer in time for the 35th anniversary of the eruption.

Mt.-Rainier-400-300x200Once you have visited the barren landscape of the Mt. St. Helens National Monument, you will be anxious to compare the views with the dense vegetation of the old growth forests of Mt. Rainier National Park at the Grove of the Patriarchs. Head to Steven’s Canyon entrance near Ohanapecosh for great trails and waterfalls.

Explore the quaint community of Morton and their Historic Roxy Theater. Lots of evening entertainment is provided throughout the year. Head back to the I-5 communities of Chehalis and Centralia. You will find the Lewis County Historical Museum, the Vintage Motorcycle Museum and the Veterans Museum waiting to be discovered. Combine your museum outing with a great dinner at special dining establishments; whether you are looking for pub food, great dining experiences, or lunch with a friend, you have many choices that suit every budget.

MRSR_CZ-400-225x300What makes Lewis County unique? It might be the 50 mile Willipa Hills Trail, re-invented from the old rail line that leads from Chehalis to Raymond. My personal favorites are our two vintage railroad and steam train rides. You can make railroading be the topic of the day by visiting the Amtrak Station in Centralia, the Lewis County Historical museum in the old railroad station, which also houses a model railroad display. Then catch a ride on the Chehalis-Centralia Steam Train. If you time it just right, or stay the night in Morton, you can ride the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad in Mineral and see the newly remodeled rail yard, museum and Camp 6. No other county has two such historic train rides. Don’t forget events and dinner trains are available during the summer.

If that isn’t enough to keep you busy, come back again and I’ll give you some more ideas! We’ve just skimmed the surface!

Photos courtesy of White Pass Scenic Byway.

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