Desert, snowcapped mountains, lush farmland, an immense river gorge, rugged ocean shoreline, towering temperate rain forest: You could spend several weeks taking in all that scenery on a tour of the western U.S., or you could experience it all on a single drive in Washington. If you didn't mind looking at the wonders through your windshield, you could see it in one day.

However, such haste is not recommended. This is a land that commands you to stop at each park and scenic lookout. And even if you could force yourself to drive past the vistas you'd pass, you'd still be missing the state's other joys: lively and literate Seattle, the quiet beauty of the San Juan Islands and the remote majesty of North Cascades National Park, to name just a few. We recommend you stay awhile.

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