Tag: 14ers

Washington’s Mountains: Better than Colorado’s

At Denver’s Coors Field, when the Sunday afternoon singer belts out God Bless America, Rocky fans wait in anticipation for that “…From the Mountains…” line. As it’s sung they all let out a collective roar of approval, so sure that their mountains are the best ones the country has to offer.

Except you can’t even SEE the mountains from most seats at Coors Field. You have to get to the upper deck for this view: Coor's Field

And still, the sight is nothing compared to Mt. Rainier, the Olympics, or the Cascades. Because the best mountains aren’t found west of Denver, they are surrounding Seattle.

Maybe it’s just that leaving a place and then returning makes you appreciate things more, or maybe I’m just feeling snarky today, or maybe Washington just has better mountains.

They are green: When the snow melts off the Front Range, Denverites ski and hike through forests of brown sticks, waiting for those few months in the late spring when color comes back until everything dries out and burns in the summer. Meanwhile, back in the Evergreen State, things are verdant all year long. The only time trees don’t look green is when the sun sets and mountain crevices turn blue and purple.


Better camping: With less wildfire danger, campfires get a safety nod for most of the year in Washington. Campers in Colorado not only lack the legal ability to start a campfire, but finding a live tree to pitch a tree under is even getting difficult. The Mountain Pine Beetle is tunneling under the bark of trees all over Colorado, leaving behind a trail of arboreal death under which no tent is safe.  


Washingtonians are not so pretentious about their mountains: It is possible to talk to an outdoorsy hipster in Seattle without hearing about how their main goal in life is to climb all the fourteeners in the state.

Everyone is not on the same road on Friday afternoon:  If you are in Colorado and want to get out of town, you are probably on I-70, heading west. Sure, you could go up to Rocky Mountain National Park or down to Pike’s Peak, (or to Nebraska!?!), but Breckenridge, A-Basin, and a few of those fourteeners are off I-70. If you want to get out of town in Seattle, pick a road and drive on it. It will lead you to a mountain. Or at least somewhere cooler than Nebraska. There may still be traffic, but road construction on one highway doesn’t destroy all hope a weekend hike.

The roads are clear!

Visitors don’t need a day to acclimate before going on an adventure.  

Mountains look more dramatic: Mt. Rainer isn’t much taller than Pike’s Peak, and Mt. Baker is not nearly as high. But you can see these beauties from everywhere and they look way more dramatic. When standing a zero elevation, a mountain (especially a volcanic one) just looks better than when you are already standing at 5280 feet. Not only can you see stand-alone icons from almost anywhere in Western Washington, but you can see the panoramic shot of a whole ranges from the city as well. In Denver, the shorter mountains block the views of the giants, so you don’t even get that dramatic view of a snow capped mountain range until you’ve sat in I-70 traffic and gotten through the tunnel.

More outdoor options: Sure, Washingtonians like to hike, ski, climb, mountain bike, and trail run. But those aren’t the only options. If altitude isn’t your jam, there is still sea kayaking, water-skiing, crabbing, or sailing. Washington state hosts ice sculpting contests AND sand sculpting contests.  

(Note: Better skiing, gorgeous red rocks, more sunny days, drivers who can navigate snow, and a baseball team that has actually been to the World Series were deliberately not discussed. Shhh…)