side by side photos of Lake Wenatchee State Park and The Lord of the Rings' Gondor

9 parks that bring Middle Earth to Washington

Just like Bilbo, we’re celebrating our 111th birthday!  

Bilbo Baggins saying "today is my one-hundred and eleventh birthday"

For all you Lord of the Rings fans out there, we know you know Middle Earth like the back of your hand. But maybe you didn't realize you can explore it without leaving the confines of Washington state.  

Join us on a journey as we show you how to adventure like The Fellowship through our parks.  


The Shire 

Columbia Hills State Park 

Location: Lyle, WA 

side by side photos of Columbia Hills State Park and The Lord of the Rings' The Shire

Other than the fact it’s not inhabited by Hobbits, Columbia Hills State Park comes pretty close to what we imagine the vibes of The Shire to be. With beautiful rolling hills, wildflowers and farms nearby, the peacefulness of the Columbia River Gorge will transport you to the friendliest place in Middle Earth.  

Visit this wonderful park in the next few weeks when the wildflowers are in full bloom. 


Old Forest 

Federation Forest State Park 

Location: Enumclaw, WA 

side by side photos of Federation Forest State Park and The Lord of the Rings' Old Forest

The Old Forest in LOTR reminds us of Federation Forest State Park. Although it’s not as dark and tangled as the Old Forest, Federation Forest has trails through hundreds of acres of old-growth trees for you to venture through. And don’t worry horses are not allowed – so you’ll be safe from the Black Riders.  

Stop by the Catherine Montgomery Interpretive Center, named after a member of the Washington State Federation Women's Club and a pioneer educator who dreamt of preservation, and lived a life exploring.  

The members of the Women’s Club “saw a need to preserve [the] old growth forest and donate the land for the first location of the park [and] would be pleased to know that future generations continue to be able to walk among the gentle giants as was their intent at the time of their gift.” You could say they were the Ents of their time! 



Kanaskat-Palmer State Park 

Location: Ravensdale, WA 

side by side photos of Kanaskat-Palmer State Park and The Lord of the Rings' Rivendell

Just like Rivendell, Kanaskat-Palmer State Park is tucked within the gorge of a river – the Green River, to be exact. This park’s tranquil ambiance and proximity to water will make you feel like you stepped into the safety and love of Rivendell. Feel free to stay awhile, as this is one of many parks with campsites available


Steamboat Rock State Park 

Location: Electric City, WA 

side by side photos of Steamboat Rock State Park and The Lord of the Rings' Rohan

If you are an equestrian enthusiast, you’ll want to visit Steamboat Rock State Park. It offers miles of trails for you and your equine friend to become just like the Horse-lords of Rohan.  



Lake Wenatchee State Park 

Location: Leavenworth, WA 

side by side photos of Lake Wenatchee State Park and The Lord of the Rings' Gondor

If you visit Lake Wenatchee State Park, you can’t help but think of Gondor. The mountains surrounding the clear-blue lake, remind us of the landscape around Minas Tirith, the white city of Gondor and home to the King of Gondor.  


Dead Marshes 

Bottle Beach State Park 

Location: Aberdeen, WA 

side by side photos of Bottle Beach State Park and The Lord of the Rings' Dead Marshes

When you think “swamp,” places in Washington may not be what you picture. Shrek and Donkey come to mind – or how about Middle Earth’s Dead Marshes? The marshes Gollum leads Frodo and Sam into during their journey to Mount Doom.  

Luckily for you, Bottle Beach State Park marshes do not compare! There will be no ogres or remains of those involved in the Battle of Dagorlad. All you will find is the perfect place to bird-watch on platforms over the marshes. 



Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park 

Location: Coulee City, WA 

side by side photos of Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park and The Lord of the Rings' Mordor

This comparison might be a stretch... 

What we can say is Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park has just as dramatic a landscape as Mordor. With deep gorges and lakes formed by the mighty ice age floods and the Lake Lenore Caves to explore, you’ll feel like you are along for the journey to Mount Doom. Don’t worry Shelob isn’t found in these caves! 

Lake Lenore Caves State Park Heritage Site can be found south of Sun Lakes-Dry Falls. From the parking area, the trail climbs above the valley, passing a series of shallow basalt caves overlooking Lake Lenore. 


Mount Doom 

Seaquest State Park 

Location: Castle Rock, WA 

side by side photos of Seaquest State Park and The Lord of the Rings' Mount Doom

Do we really need to explain this one?  

Seaquest State Park is set among the lush pines in the shadow of the Mount St. Helens’ volcano. Although it doesn’t look as evil as Mount Doom, it is one of the most important/famous locations in Washington state – just as Mount Doom may have been the most important location in Middle Earth.  


The Lonely Mountain 

Mount Pilchuck State Park 

Location: Granite Falls, WA 

side by side photos of Mount Pilchuck State Park and The Hobbit's The Lonely Mountain

Although The Lonely Mountain wasn’t a part of The Fellowship’s journey, it was the goal of Bilbo and the Dwarves’ journey in The Hobbit – making us want to include it on this list. 

Mount Pilchuck State Park is located at 3,100 feet above sea level and offers awe-inspiring alpine views. The trail up to the top of Mount Pilchuck is as challenging, as it is breathtaking. For your efforts, you may not be awarded a kingdom as the Dwarves were in The Hobbit, but 360-degree views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, Mount Rainer and the Olympic Mountains ain’t bad. 


The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there – at our state parks. Remember, you shall not pass without your Discover Pass. Our next free day is April 22 on Earth Day.

Originally published March 21, 2024