Things to Do in Southwest Washington State

From fishing in Glenoma to exploring lava tubes in Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and viewing ancient trees in Mount Rainier National Park, there's no shortage of things to do in southwest Washington.

Immerse yourself in Washington history at Fort Borst Park.
Troops built the Fort Borst blockhouse in 1856 to protect settlers from potential Native American attacks. Though this historic structure never saw any action—the bullet holes on the exterior are from target practice—it still stands today in Centralia’s 101-acre Fort Borst Park. Admire the expert craftsmanship and see if you can count all the shooting loopholes.

Hit the arcade in Chehalis.
Pull those quarters from the ashtray: Time Masheen Arcade in Chehalis is packed with classic arcade games, pinball, pool, air hockey and foosball and earns a high score in retro fun.

Get fishy at Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery.
Lift a 17-pound fiberglass fish, pour “eggs” into a simulated stream and learn how to discern wild-born salmon from steelhead at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery's education center in Salkum. You can even watch hatchery workers mix salmon eggs with milt to create the next generation.

Tour gardens in Mossyrock.
In quaint Mossyrock, DeGoede Bulb Farm and Gardens grows everything from tulips and irises to perennials and poinsettias on more than 300 acres of land. Tour the gardens for free year-round (the tulip fields are in full bloom in April), see what’s incubating in the four acres of greenhouse and pick up farm-grown bulbs on your way out.

Mingle with lumberjacks at the Loggers' Jubilee.
Thousands flock to Morton every August for the annual Loggers’ Jubilee, dubbed the “granddaddy of all logging shows,” which features ax throwing, logrolling, springboard chopping, speed climbing, tree topping, pole bucking and other lumberjack-themed events.

Fish in Riffe Lake.
Glenoma’s Taidnapam Park attracts avid anglers with its prime placement along the banks of Riffe Lake. Drop a line from the picturesque fishing bridge and expect to net coho salmon, steelhead, bass or three different kinds of trout.

Explore a lava tube at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Far from the populated visitor centers you’ll find the Ape Caves at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. This lava tube, at more than 2 miles, is the longest in North America. With the help of headlamps, spelunkers can explore the underground lava stalactites, boulder piles and an eight-foot-high lava fall.

Visit ancient trees in Mount Rainier National Park.
On the park's east side, Stevens Canyon Road leads to the Grove of the Patriarchs trail, an isolated island where old-growth western red cedars, Douglas firs and western hemlocks—some as big as 25 feet around—stand sentinel, creating an awe-inspiring sight. Some of these giants have been on earth for more than a millennium.

—Angela Cabotaje

Photo: Ape Caves, Credit: Ken Paulsen