Have you ever wanted to learn interesting facts about Washington State?
Well, you’re in the right place! Found in the upper left USA, “The Evergreen State” is a unique blend of curiosity and charm.
Stick around, and you’ll learn why apples, airplanes, and Amazon (among other weird facts about Washington State) are so important to this corner of the Pacific. We’re sharing everything from popular tourist attractions to geology, and everything in between!
34 Fun Facts About Washington State
Washington State Symbols
Before we dive into all the fun facts about Washington State, let’s start with the basics!
1. Washington’s nickname is “The Evergreen State.”
This is because coniferous trees cover over half the state! Here, you can commonly find Sitka spruce, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, and Alpine larches. They can be found on nearly all hikes in Washington state!
2. Washington’s state bird is the American Goldfinch.
If you ever catch sight of a bright flash of yellow, you might have spotted this beautiful golden bird that loves bird feeders, dandelions, and thistles.
The American Goldfinch is characterized by its black cap and black wings, and its song is long, high, and sweet.
3. Washington’s state flower is the Coast Rhododendron.
The Coast Rhododendron is primarily found along the Pacific coast, but it extends to the Cascade Mountains. If you plan an Olympic Peninsula road trip, they will be found in abundance on your route.
It was chosen as the state flower in 1892 by the women of Washington–before their right to vote–at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.
4. Washington’s state insect is the Green Darner dragonfly.
While this bug’s life lasts just one summer, the Green Darner spends one to five years as an underwater larva or nymph.
It predates dinosaurs by millions of years, with the fossil record showing there were dragonflies in Paleozoic times (though on a much larger scale)!
5. Washington’s state flag is the only green state flag.
With Washington state being the only state named after a president, it is fitting that the flag is also the only one with a picture of a president on it.
It was created by a jeweler in 1889 with an ink bottle, a silver dollar to draw the rings, and a postage stamp of George Washington!
6. Washington’s official state dance is the square dance.
When pioners first ventured out west, they brought the french dance of the quadrille – which means “square” in French. In 1979, it became Washington’s official state dance.
Dancers are directed by a caller, and it became a fun source of exercise, socialization, and was easy to learn.
7. Washington’s State waterfall is Palouse Falls.
Palouse falls drop 189 feet into the basin below. It’s 10th of the list of the world’s most amazing waterfalls! Palouse Falls is one of the last remaining Washington waterfalls that flows year-round that was left behind by ice-age floods.
Interesting Facts About Washington State
8. Washington operates the largest ferry fleet in the United States.
The Washington State Ferry system is the second-largest auto-carrying system in the world!
The fleet of 21 ferries serves residents and visitors of the Puget Sound, San Juan Islands, and greater Salish Sea along the western coast of Washington.
9. The population of Washington is 7.512 million.
Approximately 4 million people live in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area, which is more than half of the state’s total population!
The second-most populated city in Washington (after Seattle), is Spokane on the east side. Just over 200,000 live in the city, while just over 500,000 live in Spokane County.
10. The state capital of Washington is Olympia.
When Washington’s capital was to be selected, the territory’s largest cities were caught in a race to beat their neighboring boomtowns to the title.
To up their game, Ellensburg built a three-story mansion while Olympia hosted a clambake for delegates at the constitutional convention.
11. Washington State grows the most apples in the US.
Ever wonder, “what is Washington state famous for?” The answer is…apples!
If you put all the apples harvested in Washington each year side by side, they would circle the earth 29 times! Washington apples are exported to 60 countries worldwide.
12. Washington is the second-largest wine-producing region in the US.
With more than 1,000 wineries in Washington, the area is abundant in vineyards and tasting rooms. Washington state has 19 unique AVAs, with most of them located in the sunny Columbia Basin.
Did you know that travelers can enjoy a free wine tasting through Alaska Airlines’ Wine Flies Free™ program? *Restrictions apply
13. Washington is home to more than 300 colleges and career schools.
Washington state is home to six four-year public universities, along with more than 300 private colleges and career schools. Some of the most well-known schools in Washington include:
- Washington State Univeristy
- University of Washington
- Eastern Washington University
- Gonzaga University
- Seattle University
- University of Puget Sound
- Seattle Pacific University
- Whitworth University
- and many more!
Washington State History Facts
14. There are 29 federally recognized Native tribes in Washington State.
Washington state tribes include:
- Chehalis, Colville, Cowlitz, Hoh, Jamestown S’Klallam, Kalispel, Lower Elwha Klallam, Lummi, Makah, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Nooksack, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Puyallup, Quileute (that live in the La Push area of the Olympic Peninsula), Quinault, Samish, Sauk-Suiattle, Shoalwater Bay, Skokomish, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Squaxin Island, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, Upper Skagit, and Yakama.
Each Washington state tribe has its own government, unique traditions and culture, and values. Find out more about the Indigenous tribes of Seattle and Washington here.
15. Washington State became the 42nd state in the United States.
Washington state gained its star on the American flag on November 11, 1889, after a hiatus of thirteen years when no new states were accepted by Congress into the Union.
Washington became a state after 36 years as a territory, which was longer than any of the 41 states previously admitted, and set off large celebrations in its capital, Olympia.
16. Salmon is a symbol of tribal culture in Washington State.
Salmon plays an important role in the northwest region’s ecosystem, as they supply nutrients to rivers, feed wildlife, and provide sustenance to Native tribes in the Pacific Northwest.
Because salmon is an integral part of religion and culture, Native Americans, in collaboration with state and federal agencies, are working to restore fish and wildlife habitats in the area.
Washington State Geology Facts
17. Washington’s Grand Coulee Dam is the largest hydroelectric plant in the US.
The Grand Coulee Dam is the greatest source of hydroelectric energy in the United States! It has a total generation capacity of 6,765 MW.
The Grand Coulee Dam put thousands to work during the Great Depression and played a vital role in developing the Pacific Northwest.
18. Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980.
This mountain went from being the fifth tallest peak in Washington to the 35th in the span of nine hours.
When it erupted, it covered the surrounding area in ash, which reached Idaho by noon and drifted as far as Edmonton in Alberta, Canada!
19. Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington.
With a summit of 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier, also known as Tahoma, Tacoma, Tacobet, or təqʷubəʔ (pronounced: teh-KWOH-beh).
Mount Rainier is the taller of Washington’s two “14ers,” with the second, Liberty Cap, being a subsidiary peak of the broad mountain. It is an active stratovolcano that is a part of the Cascade Range, and it is being monitored today!
20. There are 186 named glaciers in Washington.
Next to Alaska, Washington is the second most glaciated state in the US. These Washington glaciers are primarily found in the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges.
21. Washington State has three national parks.
Encompassing millions of acres, Washington state is home to Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Mount Rainier National Park.
These Washington national parks protect human history, maintain wilderness and ecosystems, and include a variety of landscapes.
Fun Facts About Washington State
Now, let’s get to some of the best Washington fun facts!
22. The Boeing Company was founded in Washington.
In Everett, Washington, Boeing airplanes are made in the biggest building in the world by volume.
Boeing has been a major producer of commercial jetliners for decades–it’s likely you’ve flown on one!
23. Washington has six major league teams.
These include OL Reign, Seattle Kraken, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, and Seattle Storm.
The newest addition of these is the Seattle Kraken, which began play during the National Hockey League’s 2021-22 season.
24. The Seattle Seahawks’ logo was inspired by a northwest coast Indian mask.
The Kwakwaka’wakw (pronounced: KWA-kwuh-kyu-wakw) eagle mask represents a supernatural eagle and its transformation into human form.
This thunderbird mask, and masks like it, were used by dancers who dramatically opened the mask to symbolize transformation.
25. Amazon was founded in Washington.
Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com as a bookseller from his garage in Bellevue, Washington. In its early days, a bell would ring in the office when someone made a purchase!
26. The first Starbucks was founded in Pike Place in Seattle, Washington.
Along the historic cobblestone streets of Pike Place Market, Starbucks opened its first store, full of coffee and tea from around the world, and espresso drinks for customers to try.
The name was inspired by Moby Dick and the logo comes from the mysterious mythical creature, the siren.
27. Spokane, Washington hosts the world’s largest three-on-three basketball tournament.
Over 31 years, Hoopfest has rightfully given Spokane a new nickname–Hooptown!
Across 45 city blocks, the tournament features 422 courts and 250,000 people.
Weird Facts About Washington State
28. More than 75% of the country’s hops are grown in Washington.
Yakima Valley is one of the most fertile hop-growing regions in the world because of the desert climate and nearby Yakima River.
29. Washington is known for its UFO sightings.
The first published photograph of a UFO was taken in Seattle, Washington after Frank Ryman took a picture of a flying saucer from his front yard in 1947.
While it was debunked as a picture of a weather balloon, many instances of UFO sightings have occurred since then.
30. The world’s largest freezer is located in Richland, Washington.
2800 Polar Way is a refrigerated storage facility that is capable of storing 350 million pounds of frozen food!
From far away, it looks like a gigantic marshmallow, with an area of 505,139 square feet.
31. Washington has the worlds longest floating bridge!
At 7,708.49 feet, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge won a Guinness World Record.
This Washington state floating bridge connects Seattle to Bellevue across Lake Washington.
32. The tallest treeless mountain in the US resides in Benton County, Washington.
Rattlesnake Mountain looks over Hanford nuclear site, with a summit of 3,531 feet.
Its windswept terrain has seen high winds of 150 mph (241 kilometers per hour)!
33. Washington is full of talent.
Stars like Kurt Cobain, Apollo Ohno, Dove Cameron, Hilary Swank, Jimi Hendrix, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Rainn Wilson, Macklemore, and Bing Crosby are all from Washington state!
34. Washington is home to the fictional cast of Twilight.
The Twilight Saga is a series of books by Stephanie Meyer that take place in the rainy town of Forks, Washington. The real town of Forks received so much tourism from it, that a Twilight Tour of Forks was created to share with fellow book and movie fans.
We hope you enjoyed this post of fun facts about Washington State! As we learn more interesting Washington facts, we’ll be sure to add them to the list.