There are many different ways to discover what Washington has to offer. In this post, I’m sharing a few of the ways I discover the parks and open spaces in my neck of the woods.

Explore Washington: Resources to Help You Get Started •


I use the Washington Trails Association website and app for iPhone to find a lot of the hikes I go on with Luke and my dog, Annie. You can use the advanced search feature to filter hikes using specific criteria, by region, difficulty, and distance, for example. Many of the WTA hikes are categorized as kid- and dog-friendly. Most of the hikes have directions to the trailhead, necessary pass and/or fee information, a full trail write up, and trip reports written by other hikers.

Another app I use frequently to discover parks in my area is the Pocket Ranger, the Washington State Parks’ official guide for iPhone. Like the WTA app, you can search for parks near you or by region. Each state park has a plethora of useful information, including available activities and attractions, current alerts, maps, and weather, and even park history. You will need a Discover Pass to visit Washington state parks, unless you plan your visit on a free day. A list of free days can be found on the Discover Pass website. (Tip: If you don’t live in Washington, never fear! ParksByNature Network has official guides for the parks, forests, beaches, and historic sites of many U.S. states. Check the ParksByNature Network’s developer page on iTunes to see if your state’s official guide is available.)

Washington has three national parks, so I also enjoy using National Geographic’s National Parks app for iPhone to plan my visits. This app has a wealth of useful information for each park, as well as beautiful photos. The free, basic app includes contact and visitor information, maps, and park alerts, with the option to buy full park guides, which are currently priced at $1.99 per park or $13.99 for all of the parks featured by the app.

Perhaps the most basic way I find local parks and natural areas to explore is using Google Maps. I simply scroll around my local area in search of green spaces! I’ve found quite a few gems in my own backyard this way.


Believe it or not, a lot of the inspiration I get comes from some of the people I follow in Instagram. Finding people in your area can be tricky at first, so I suggest finding collective accounts that feature lots of different photographers. I’ve found most of my favorites by following Washington- or Pacific Northwest-specific collectives and stalking the relevant hashtags.

My favorite Washington collectives are:


My favorite Pacific Northwest dwellers and explorers are:



Which resources do you use to inspire exploration in your area? Do you prefer to use apps and websites or do you prefer books and guides?