Visiting Washington has been on my bucket list for years, as it’s always revered as a nature lover’s oasis. With three National Parks and an abundance of mountain views, I had been counting down the days until the Digital Bookmobile kicked off the Washington leg of this year’s tour.
It didn’t take long after my plane landed to understand why I’ve heard such wonderful things about Washington. The air smells fresher, the water tastes cleaner, and the view of Mount Rainier even from a distance is breathtaking. Then, ten minutes in, it started to rain…and it rained…and it rained…and it rained…and it rained…
Finally, on the sixth day of rain, I decided I couldn’t stay inside with the Washington wilderness calling my name any longer. So, my coworker Karlee and I ventured to Flaming Geyser State Park in King County, Washington. The park itself is 503 acres of woodlands, and the Green River running through it draws in kayakers, rafters, and fishermen from all over the United States.
Much to our surprise, our visit to the park coincided with spawning season for salmon. Karlee and I meandered down the park’s 1/4-mile interpretive trail, where we observed salmon make their thousand-mile journey back to freshwater to spawn. Being from Ohio, we were blown away that we could witness such a beautiful natural display only feet away from where we were standing.
Our leisurely hike soon turned into an opportunity to learn about how important salmon are to the Pacific Northwest. Annually, sport fishing contributes roughly $1 billion to Washington’s economy. Additionally, 138 species in the region depend on salmon in some way. Even in their death, salmon carcasses provide nutrients to the nutrient-poor freshwater environments. Understanding how integral salmon are to the region made our time spent watching the migration even more meaningful.
The visit to Flaming Geyser State Park will forever be one of the coolest experiences I have ever had in nature, which is saying a lot considering my degree is in outdoor recreation. I highly encourage anyone traveling to the Pacific Northwest in the Fall to seek out the nearest river to witness the salmon spawn for yourself. It will be a sight you’ll never forget!