Southwest Washington

Southwest Washington is a lush forested region of Washington.

The Columbia River Gorge


This region is bordered to the south by the mighty Columbia River and the scenic Columbia River Gorge. To the west it is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and includes many broad sandy beaches and popular tourist towns and this region also includes mountainous areas such Mount St. Helens which was the sight of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in United States history.


Cowlitz County

Clark County

Lewis County

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Pacific County

Skamania County

Wahkiakum County

Other destinations

panoramic view of Mount St Helens


For our purposes, the Southwest Washington region consists of Cowlitz, Clark, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties.


Like the rest of Washington state, English is spoken with a Pacific Northwest accent very similar to the General American standard accent (native to the Midwest), popularized in the 20th century by radio, TV and movies. People in the area generally have little to no problem understanding different accents of the English language. The Pacific Northwest attracts tourists from around the world, and it is common to hear many foreign languages being spoken in public in major tourist areas.

Get in

The scenic Astoria Bridge connects Oregon and Southwest Washington over the Columbia River

By air

By car

I-5 connects the region to Seattle and Portland. If coming from the Columbia Plateau/Central Washington, take US-12 or SR-14 west. From the Oregon Coast, take US-101 across the Columbia River on the Astoria Bridge.

By train

The Amtrak Cascades service stops in Kelso and Vancouver, WA.

Get around

By car

Distances between gas stations can some times be vast so make sure your aware of your fuel level before heading out. I-5 travels north south through the east side of this region and is a major connector for the entire west coast. But try going inland to such areas as highway 101 for a slower more scenic pass through the area along the coast.


Southwest Washington is an outdoorsy place that offers an intimidating variety of places to experience nature.


Fresh fish such as salmon, crab and other seafood are regulars along the coast. But Northwest regional cuisine is known for more than just seafood. Local chefs are noted for their use of seasonal abundant locally gathered ingredients. Wild mushrooms, cranberries, black berries are frequently used alongside plentiful local organic produce.

The areas mild climate, rich soil and abundant water resources have created a bountiful climate for local farmers. Farmers markets are common in both urban and rural areas and a great way to experience local culture as well as experience local foods.



Coffee is hugely popular all across the Pacific Northwest including Southwest Washington. Look for small road side espresso stands even in small towns.


Like the rest of Washington State, microbreweries and beer in general is hugely popular, and the area has many to offer for beer enthusiasts. Some brews can only be found in local stores or bars (some notable brewers don't even bottle their product). Ask your servers for local beer recommendations and search out regional microbrews in stores. Southwest Washington borders Oregon and benefits from the many larger brewers are located just across the border such as Full Sail Brewing in Hood River and are therefore plentiful in the area.


When people think of regional wine its usually about Eastern Oregon and Washington. Areas such as the Columbia River Plateau of Washington and the Willamette Valley in Oregon are both close to Southwest Washington and its easy enough to be happy with those selections. However Southwest Washington wines are a well kept secret as several dozen wineries dot the area including Chehalis and Vancouver.

Stay safe

The 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens was one of the largest volcanic eruptions in United States history


Being on the Pacific Rim means that earthquakes and even tsunamis are a possibility no matter how remote the chances are, it’s best to be aware and prepared. Areas along the coast have tsunami evacuation routes well marked and should be followed in case of an emergency.


There are also several large volcanoes in the region such as Mount St Helen's which in 1980 was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded American history. The risk of a volcanic eruption is very low however and usually comes with weeks if not months of warning. Simply using common sense and heeding any warnings should be more than enough to keep any traveler safe. Lahars are a type of volcanic mudslide associated with an event and cities near volcanoes have Volcano Evacuation route signs that should be followed in case of an emergency.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 22, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.