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6 Things Washington State Parks are Good for Besides Hiking

Get outside and get creative with these six ideas that go beyond the usual suspects
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There are hundreds of Washington State Parks--in all sorts of sizes (e.g. Posey Island State Park in San Juan County is a mere one acre) and with all sorts of attractions (think flaming methane geysers or tours of limestone formations). And while camping and hiking are perhaps two of the most commonly planned activities for a WA State Park visit, there are ample opportunities to get creative and enjoy the great outdoors.

Whether you're harvesting shellfish at Whatcom County's Birch Bay State Park or checking out World War I-era naval gun emplacements and bunkers at Fort Casey State Park, there are plenty of ways to exercise your adventurous side. Next time you visit a Washington State Park, consider trying one of the below six ideas.

And don't forget to secure your Discover Pass (or appropriate licenses) prior to visiting; or, plan your trip during one of the designated "free" days listed here.

1. Day trip with a picnic

Photo: MK97007
Gorgeous picnic spots abound in Seattle, but consider hitting the open roads for superbly scenic place to lay down a blanket and feast. Bring a frisbee or a football for a sporty afternoon. Our pick: Battle Ground Lake State Park in Clark County, a 280-acre wonder complete with fishing, swimming and trails in and around an ancient volcano crater.

2. Family reunions

Photo: Chelsea Nesvig
Your family will applaud your out-of-the-box thinking when you suggest taking the big reunion to a more picturesque locale. Our pick: Cama Beach State Park, a beach on the southwest shores of Camano Island that hails from the bygone era of the 1930s. Book a few old-school (yet refurbished) waterfront bungalows in this fishing resort and let the good times roll.

3. Digital detox/team building

Gardner Cave in Crawford State Park; photo: Robert Ashworth
We're staring at our computers, phones, tablets, iWatches, etc.so much, that we're interacting less with others and less with our surroundings. Do something rash to change it. Grab your co-workers, friends or just hit the road solo to explore and spend time together in a Washington State park--sans technology. (You'd be surprised by how much you won't miss it.)

Our pick: Crawford State Park, a 49-acre day-use park with the third-longest limestone cavern in Washington. Caves can only be accessed via pre-arranged guided tours by Parks staff, but you can call (509) 446-4065 to schedule a time in advance.

4. Perfecting your photography skills

Photo: Leslie Seaton
The scenery in Washington State Parks is truly unparalleled, making it an ideal place to haul the camera and snap some shots of all the beauty. (Note: A permit is required if you're taking professional stills or video.)

Our pick: Flaming Geyser State Park; this spot in King County near the city of Black Diamond boasts two methane gas geysers that are fueled by gas pockets found 1,000 feet below the surface. You'll also find tubing and rafting along the river and a special area designated for taking your remote controlled airplane for an aerial spin.

5. Group fitness

Photo: Daveynin
Get the gang together for a peaceful yoga session among nature or even something a little more active like zumba. Finish up with a calming 30-minute meditation period to really feel attuned with the Earth.

Our pick: Camano Island State Park, a 134-acre camping park with a scenic rocky shoreline and beach.

6. Water access

Courtesy of WA State Parks flickr
With temps routinely hitting 80 degrees and higher, it's prime time to cool off in one of Washington's many lakes, rivers and ocean access points. Our pick: Curlew Lake State Park, a 123-acre camping park with water adventures aplenty, including swimming, boating and water skiing.

Bonus: This park is close to the Stonerose public fossil dig where you can hunt for and collect real fossils!

For more information on Washington State Parks and to plan your next trip, visit the website here.

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