The West Coast of the United States comprises the regions of California and the Pacific Northwest.
Located on the west coast of the United States, California is a huge and diverse state, with culture ranging from the easygoing surf spots on the beaches of Southern California to the glamour of Hollywood to the counterculture and thriving businesses of the Bay Area. The state’s nature is varied too, including the redwood forests of the North Coast, the ski resorts of the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains, and the harsh desert of Death Valley. The largest state in the U.S. by population and one of the largest by area, California boasts world-famous attractions and sights: Disneyland, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Napa Valley wine country, and the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, can all be found here.
The Pacific Northwest consists of the states of Oregon and Washington, and although the states of Alaska and Hawaii, which also border the Pacific Ocean, are generally not included, they will be here. Often neighbouring areas of northern California, western Idaho, Southeastern Alaska, and the neighbouring Canadian province of British Columbia are also considered part of the Pacific Northwest, and are also referred to as Cascadia.
The Pacific Northwest of the United States is best known for its beautiful coastline, green interior, rainy weather, and spectacular mountains. Oregon is known for its political innovation and the quirky city of Portland, while Washington is
home to volcanoes and numerous coastal islands to explore, as well as Seattle, the largest city in the Pacific Northwest.
A chain of volcanoes defines the spine of the Pacific Northwest, including the iconic snow-packed Mount Rainier, which towers over western Washington and is symbolic of the natural beauty of the area. The PNW includes both the Olympic Mountains on the epic Olympic Peninsula and Cascade Mountains that extend from Washington into Oregon and even down into northern California. Mount Hood is Oregon’s most recognizable volcanic mountain and can easily be seen across both states. Between Mount Rainier and Mount Hood is the infamous Mount St. Helens. Further south, a volcano is missing in the Cascades. In Southern Oregon, Crater Lake is all that remains from the massive volcanic explosion of Mount Mazama 7700 years ago.
The Pacific Northwest is a very diverse region including rugged coastlines, unique sand dunes, sparkling streams, huge rivers, wide deserts, and picturesque forested islands, as well as the dramatic mountains. The Columbia Gorge Scenic drive and its waterfalls follows along the mighty Columbia River, which is the natural boundary between Oregon & Washington. Puget Sound is a large, complex waterway created by the most recent glacial cycle, which ended 14,000 years ago.
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