5 Beautiful Places in Washington That Don’t Require Hiking

October 15, 2021

I often talk about epic locations in the PNW that will take you on some sort of hike, or take a bit of walking to get to. I’m a big hiker myself, so I absolutely love taking my couples with me on those adventures. But this time, I wanted to create a guide of accessible locations for couples (or anybody in general) of all mobility and fitness levels – because we’ve sure got tons of those, too! Keep reading to learn about 5 of the most beautiful places in Washington to take photos at that don’t require hiking, or require very minimal walking.

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1. Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge is probably the most easily accessible mountain spot inside of Olympic National Park, and the views do not disappoint.

Location Details

Distance from Seattle: 100 miles northwest

Distance from Port Angeles: 17 miles south

The Landscape

With epic views of the Olympic mountain range that are easily accessible, Hurricane Ridge is hard to beat. You’ve got mountain views, open fields, evergreen trees everywhere, and a visitor center where you can get more information & learn about your surroundings.

Seasonal Accessibility

Hurricane Ridge is easiest to access during the spring and summer, and that’s when you’ll see wildflowers covering the stunning. During the winter, you’ll want to make sure to monitor weather conditions & road statuses, as the steep, curvy Hurricane Ridge Road can get pretty sketchy in the snow and ice. 

Permits, Passes, & Fees

Like any spot in Olympic National Park, you’ll need to pay the per-vehicle entrance fee of $30 (which is valid for seven consecutive days). Or, if you’re planning to visit the area more than twice a year, opt for the discounted $55 annual pass!

What to Do in the Area

Hurricane Ridge has plenty to offer, including tons of winter activities for anybody whose into cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The easiest thing to do to get you epic views, though, is simply to drive the 18 miles along Hurricane Ridge Road! Stop along the way for photo-ops and to take in the views around you. 

Where to Stay Near Hurricane Ridge

If you’re into sleeping under the stars, the nearest campground to Hurricane Ridge is the Heart O’ the Hills campground, about 12 miles north of the ridge. 

Definitely also check out Airbnb’s in the Port Angeles area, and explore the city – I’ve listed a few great options below for you!

2. Gold Creek Pond

Location Details

Gold Creek Pond is a stunning spot in the Snoqualmie region that provides an easy, 1-mile, ADA-accessible loop hike.

Distance from Seattle: 56 miles east

The Landscape

While walking this loop, you’ll see willow and wildflowers, and when you cross over the creek at the north end, you’ll get the best views of the crystal clear blue water. It’s such an amazing location that requires very minimal walking (all on flat surface, as well) and gets you stunning views!

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Seasonal Accessibility

I recommend only trying to visit Gold Creek Pond when there’s no snow and the road is open – this will make it easiest to get to. Visit sometime between June and October when you can, as that’s when the weather will be best – and I recommend visiting on a weekday or at sunrise to avoid as many tourists as possible! In colder seasons, keep your eye on the road conditions for possible closures.

Permits, Passes, & Fees

Up until recently, permits weren’t required to photograph a paid session or elopement at Gold Creek Pond. However, the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest is now requiring photographers to obtain a permit to photograph any sort of elopement or paid shoot here. 

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The permit process costs $131 alone to start, and ranges anywhere from $115-404 for the rest of the permit cost, depending on the number of attendees. Thanks to a fellow photographer in the PNW for reaching out to the permit office and getting this information!

Contact the permit officer for further details:

Kim Larned

Lands and Recreation Special Uses

Forest Service – Cle Elum Ranger District

Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest

P: 509-852-1062

kimberly.larned@usda.gov

beautiful places in washington

What to Do in the Area

After wrapping up your walk, session, or elopement, head to one of the picnic tables nearby and end your time there with a picnic! Pack your favorite finger foods & drinks, or hire somebody to make you a fancy charcuterie board just for fun – eat while enjoying the water & mountain views.

Where to Stay Near Gold Creek Pond

Check out the cute Airbnb’s below for a cozy place to stay near Gold Creek Pond:

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3. Lake Crescent

Location Details

Lake Crescent is another stunner inside of Olympic National Park, a must-visit for anyone in the area who wants an easy spot to get to.

beautiful places in washington

Distance from Seattle: 105 miles northwest

Distance from Port Angeles: 22 miles west

The Landscape

With beautiful views of the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains, the water at Lake Crescent is clear and an amazing sight to see. It does have plenty of nearby hikes (such as the one to Marymere Falls) but is also easy for anyone to drive up to without much walking at all.

beautiful places in washington

Permits, Passes, & Fees

Again, since Lake Crescent is part of Olympic National Park, you’ll need to pay the $30 per vehicle, 7-day entrance fee when you get into the park.

What to Do in the Area

If you love being out on the water, Lake Crescent is a fantastic place for you to visit! Not only can you wade into the water, but you can also rent canoes, kayaks, and rowboats from the nearby Lake Crescent Lodge. There are plenty of picnic areas nearby for you to have a fun lakeside picnic at, as well.

beautiful places in washington

Where to Stay Near Lake Crescent

For anybody wanting to camp, head to the Fairholme campground, which has 87 campsites including 1 wheelchair-accessible site.

If you’d rather cozy up in a lodge, check out Lake Crescent Lodge – a beautiful lodge on the lake with plenty of opportunities & activities to offer!

And here are a few great Airbnb’s to check out, as well:

best places in washington

4. Rattlesnake Lake

Location Details

Rattlesnake Lake is an awesome location that’s free to enter, has a large parking lot and restrooms, and has no shortage of beautiful views.

Distance from Seattle: 35 miles southeast

The Landscape

Located near North Bend, WA, Rattlesnake Lake has gorgeous views of hills, green trees, and 111 acres of blue lake water. It’s the perfect place for visitors of all skill and mobility levels, since there are optional hikes, or you can simply park and walk to the lake. 

beautiful places in washington

Seasonal Accessibility

The recreational area is open year-round and is gorgeous when snow covers the ground in the wintertime. 

Permits, Passes, & Fees

It’s free to park at this lake, so woohoo for saving some money!

beautiful places in washington

What to Do in the Area

Rattlesnake Lake is not only great for easily accessible epic views, but also provides tons of opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. You can go swimming in the lake at your own risk, if you’re needing to cool off in the summer, and can have picnics at any of the lakeside tables. 

Where to Stay Near Rattlesnake Lake

Camping is not allowed at the lake, so you’ll want to find a comfortable Airbnb to stay in nearby in North Bend!

beautiful places in washington

5. Three Forks Natural Area

Location Details

Finally, I wanted to include Three Forks Natural Area, located 2 miles upstream from Snoqualmie Falls. 

Distance from Seattle: 29 miles east

The Landscape

Three Forks Natural Area houses over 200 acres of meadow, wetlands, and cottonwood forest. It’s an absolutely beautiful area next to the water, and the Three Forks Snoqualmie Trail is only an easy 0.7-mile trail for anybody wanting to walk it. 

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Seasonal Accessibility

Keep in mind that if you’re coming from the east, you’ll have to travel through Snoqualmie Pass to get to this area. So in the late fall, winter, and early spring, be sure to monitor the pass conditions for ice, snow, and rain!

Permits, Passes, & Fees

No parking pass is required for this area!

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What to Do in the Area

This is a great place for anybody who loves being out in nature since you can go hiking, walk around the area, go biking, and even go bird-watching. Dogs are also allowed here, so feel free to bring your four-legged friends along for a walk or a swim!

Where to Stay Near Three Forks Natural Area

Here are a few Airbnb’s in the area to check out if you’ll be staying a night or two!

There you have it, folks – 5 beautiful places in Washington where you can get incredible views without having to hike. The outdoors is for everyone, not just those of us who want to go on backpacking or hiking trips over multiple days! 

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If you liked this post, be sure to go check out the additional resources below:

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