5 Places to Beat the Heat While Exploring the Pacific Northwest
Stay Cool in the Summer Warmth
Summer is here, maybe. Actually, it comes and goes every few days. We're still trying to figure out this crazy weather. However, when the sun is around it warms up quite a bit! Enough to discourage many from leaving home to explore. We don't want you to stop your adventures because of the heat. So we put together five great spots worth checking out on a hot day. Each location will keep you cool enough so you don't melt!
Don't let the name scare you, you won't run across any apes in this 2.5 mile long lava tube just south of Mt. Saint Helens. This cave was created some 2,000 years ago by a powerful eruption of the nearby volcano. It's the longest of it's type in the country, and third longest in all of North America. The cave stays at a chilly 42 degrees year round, an excellent way to escape the summer heat. It's a popular attraction during the summer so get there early to find a decent spot to park. Like we mentioned already, no apes, but beware of mice, bats, and Bigfoot!
- See our Exploring Ape Cave story for more details, photos, and what to expect.
Fort Columbia Historical State Park
If you're not into Bigfoot you may find the old batteries of this state park a better option. These dark, wet, and quiet structures will keep you cool while exploring their underground labyrinth-like layouts. The temperature in the darkness filled corridors and rooms is welcoming on a warm day. The sounds of dripping water, though somewhat eerie, is relaxing to hear. Watch for pirate ghosts and don't let the large steel doors and bars lock you in for the night!
- Our full story of Fort Columbia Historical State Park has more info, including the option to stay the night in two vacation houses.
A portion of the Iron Horse State Park rails-to-trails project includes this 2.3 mile long tunnel running directly underneath the Cascade mountains. The last train to run through here was in 1980, but plenty of travel continues in this dark void by hikers, bikers, and fearless explorers. This is another great way to keep cool while exploring the unknown. Being deep underground makes the temperature quite enjoyable. The light at the end of the tunnel can be somewhat of an illusion. Is it the exit point, headlamps from others heading in your direction, or are you seeing things?
- Have a look at our experience of wandering through Snoqualmie Tunnel.
Sky View Observatory
So you're not a big underground fan? No worries, you can rise 902' to the highest public observatory on the West Coast which presents you with amazing 360 degree views. On a clear day you can see as far as Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, and the Olympics. The observatory provides comfortable seating; sandwiches, coffee, and beer in the Sky View Cafe; and plenty of air conditioning that's almost as wonderful as the scenery.
- Photos can be tricky to capture here, due to the glass, but take a look at the ones we captured in our Sky View Observatory story.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Underground and heights aren't your thing? Let's level it out a bit at this wonderful National Park inside of the historical Cadillac Hotel building. Learn all about the Klondike Gold Rush through informative displays, activities, photos, and more. The park is free and kids will love the exhibits. It's a very cool place where you can have your photo taken next to a pile of gold bars! They're probably fake, but hey, you don't have to tell anyone :-p
- We visited Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park right after Sky View Observatory.
Follow along on our wanderings around the Pacific Northwest.
The only thing better would be being there yourself!
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