Outdoor Adventures

Find Peace and Quiet in Washington’s Most Remote Escapes

Try as we might, it can be tough in this digital age to unplug and really get away from it all every now and then.

But it can be done — and it can be done well all over Washington. From remote wilderness areas and solitary islands to a one-of-a-kind mountain hideaway accessible only by boat or plane, Washington is home to some truly great getaways that are about as off-the-grid as you’re going to find in the 21st century.

So unplug — and enjoy.

Hoh Rain Forest — This ancient forest in Olympic National Park, filled with soaring old growth and humongous sword ferns, may very well be the quietest place in the lower 48. Botanist and sound recordist Gordon Hempton has spent three decades cataloging the quietest places he can find. So far, the quietest he’s come across is a mossy log about 3.2 miles up the Hoh River Trail from the park’s visitor center. Contributing to the silence there: a lack of nearby roads and the park’s distance from major flight paths.

Stehekin — You won’t be completely alone and without amenities in Stehekin, but you will be in a quiet, secluded and singular spot. Accessible only by ferry, floatplane or foot, Stehekin is a tiny community on the shores of Lake Chelan surrounded by the towering peaks of the North Cascades. There are camping and lodging options, but there’s little cell service, limited Internet and plenty of natural beauty to remind you that you’re in the middle of nowhere.

The unknown San Juans — Most everyone knows Orcas, San Juan, Lopez and some of the other popular San Juan Islands, but few have ventured to places like Decatur Island or James Island Marine State Park. Both are only accessible by private boat. Decatur has a small population of residents — maybe 50 — a single small store, a handful of private homes for rent and plenty of solitude. Oh, and spotty cell service. James Island Marine State Park encompasses all of the 581-acre James Island, which is home to just 13 primitive campsites. It’s also got 1.5 miles of hiking trails that lead to stellar, quiet views through pristine forests and out across the Salish Sea.

Salmo-Priest Wilderness — If solitude and an escape from the plug-ins is what you desire, the Salmo-Priest Wilderness is for you. Tucked far in the northeastern corner of Washington, this 43,350-acre wilderness has been known for grizzly bear, caribou and even gray wolf sightings, so you know you’re way out there. Backpack over a few days along the 19-mile Salmo-Priest Loop or day hike the 8.4-mile Crowell Ridge. 

Photo by monkeybusinessimages

Hidden Gems in Olympic National Park