Puget Sound USA

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Discover the top photo spots in Puget Sound

Nestled between two mountain ranges and filled with saltwater beaches, evergreen forests, and colorful cities and towns, the Puget Sound region of Washington State presents endless opportunities for nature and travel photography, whether you enjoy cityscapes, landscapes, history and modern art, wildlife or formal gardens. Joe Becker presents 58 of his favourite locations with over 125 images to inspire your visit.

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AUTHOR'S PICKS

The City of Tacoma offers a little taste of everything from the Puget Sound region. It makes a great base from which to explore the south Sound area. The Museum of Glass in downtown Tacoma offers unique views outside and glass blowing demonstrations inside. There are fantastic views of Tacoma’s namesake, Mount Tahoma (also known as Mount Rainier), from several spots downtown and on the waterfront. Point Defiance Park contains wonderful gardens, old growth forests, a delightful zoo, as well as abundant natural wildlife, views of the Olympic Mountains, beaches, and a ferry boat landing. From Tacoma, it is a short drive to beautiful and scenic Gig Harbor, the rhododendron and bonsai gardens in Federal Way, the Nisqually wildlife refuge, and more. Mount Rainier National Park is just a two-hour drive away.

Bainbridge Island is another great destination. The Winslow neighborhood has a small town feel, but is just a ferry ride away from downtown Seattle. And speaking of ferries, the view from Bainbridge of the ferries sailing across the Sound with either downtown Seattle or Mount Rainier in the background can’t be beaten. The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island provides acres of wonderful photo opportunities in both formal and informal gardens.

For a historical setting, Port Townsend is superb. Port Townsend itself is a Victorian seaport and home to Fort Worden State Park, one of the “Triangle of Fire” army forts that protected the entrance to Puget Sound during the early 19th century. Another of these historic forts, Fort Flagler, is just outside Port Townsend. Take the ferry out of Port Townsend across the sound to Whidbey Island and visit the third point on the triangle, Fort Casey. Both Fort Worden and Fort Casey also offer photogenic, historic lighthouses.

Besides Fort Casey, Whidbey Island offers several photographic options. Perhaps the best is Deception Pass State Park, with numerous beaches, rocky headlands, old growth forests, and a scenic bridge over the roaring waters of Deception Pass. If you visit in the spring, just to the east of Deception Pass, are the riotous color of tulip and daffodil fields of the Skagit River valley.

A suggested itinerary to cover the whole region and miss most the bothersome traffic in the Seattle-Interstate 5 corridor is to start in Tacoma and explore the south Sound area for several days. Then move to Kitsap Peninsula, perhaps staying in Poulsbo or on Bainbridge Island. Continue to Port Townsend, with a side trip down the west side of Hood Canal. From Port Townsend, take the ferry across to Whidbey Island, spending the night in Coupeville. Drive north to catch Deception Pass State Park and Anacortes. From there, take Chuckanut Drive up to Bellingham and spend a day exploring Whatcom County. Finally, cruise back down toward Seattle to complete your circumnavigation of the Sound.

TRAVEL TIPS

While public transportation serves many of the spots in the guide, the best way to get around the region is to drive. A car will easily get you to all the spots listed in the guide, though traffic through the Everett-Seattle-Tacoma corridor can be congested, particularly during normal workday commuting times. On weekends and during the summer, there can be long wait times for ferry passage across Puget Sound by car, and often it may be quicker driving around the Sound. That said, riding the ferry across the Sound presents unique photo opportunities, and you may seek a ferry ride as its own photo adventure.

Cell phone coverage is good in most of the area, though in some areas distant from the cities it can be spotty. Overnight accommodations are available in all the cities and most towns. There are a number of state parks and other campgrounds in the region, though if camping in the state parks during summer or on holiday weekends, a reservation is suggested. Washington State Parks charge a $10/day entrance fee. Therefore, if visiting several on your trip, consider purchasing the annual Discover Pass for $30 (online https://store.discoverpass.wa.gov/, at most state parks, or from many sporting goods stores in the state), which provides entrance to all state parks and many other state-controlled sites.

Be prepared for wet weather, especially if visiting in the winter, spring or fall. Carrying a raincoat and camera protection is advised. Boots or other waterproof footwear are recommended for the state parks, beaches, and other natural areas. Trails and beaches can be muddy, even in the summer. The range of tides in Puget Sound can be ten feet or more. Depending on location and season (daytime high tides are higher in winter), high tides can totally cover a beach, making beach travel much more difficult or even impossible. If you plan a significant amount of beach walking, you may wish to consult a tide table.

The Best Photo Locations In Puget Sound

We show you where, when and how to get the very best travel photos in Puget Sound.

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About The Author

Joe Becker

Joe Becker is a freelance photographer and author specializing in landscape and travel photography based in Tacoma, Washington. He discovered his passion for photography at an early age in the beautiful landscapes of the Pacific Northwest where he was born and raised. His photographic skills are largely self-taught; his formal education is in geology. His photography has won both local and international awards, and has been published by National Geographic, Northwest Travel Magazine, EOS Magazine, and Washington State Tourism, among others. Joe has authored several travel photography articles, has written and illustrated a photography guidebook about Seattle, and teaches photography in the classroom as well as to individuals. In addition to photography, Joe is a working hydrogeologist.