Did you know Washington state has laws protecting Bigfoot and had a fake World War II-era city? The Evergreen State will fascinate visitors who want to learn Washington fun facts.
I’m a local who loves discovering unexpected and interesting Washington facts. I’m positive you’ll enjoy learning about my home state whether you’re a history buff, planning a quick trip to try out Washington’s best activities, or thinking about relocating.
So, without further ado, here are 33 fun facts about Washington State!
Table of Contents
- 33 Facts about Washington State
- 1. You’ll Face Fines and Jail Time If You Kill Sasquatch
- 2. There Are More UFO Sightings Per Capita in Washington Than in Any Other State
- 3. 75% of Hops Grown in the USA Come From Washington State
- 4. Washington Has the Highest Number of Glaciers in the Contiguous USA
- 5. Seattle Isn’t the Capitol of Washington
- 6. Pickleball Was Invented in Washington
- 7. Petrified Wood is Washington’s State Gem
- 8. Washington Has the Longest Floating Bridge in the World
- 9. Washington Has Three National Parks
- 10. Tahoma is the Indigenous Name for Mount Rainier
- 11. Palouse Falls is Washington’s State Waterfall
- 12. Washington Grows the Most Apples in the USA
- 13. Amazon, Starbucks, and Boeing Were Founded in WA
- 14. Washington State Has Active Volcanoes
- 15. Salmon is Washington’s Most Important Fish
- 16. Washington State Operates the Largest Ferry Fleet in the Country
- 17. Not all of Washington is Covered in Forests
- 18. You Have to Cross Through Canada to Get to Part of Washington
- 19. Washington State Has the Third Deepest Lake in the Country
- 20. A Pig Triggered a War on the San Juan Islands
- 21. Twilight Brought Forks, Washington to Fame
- 22. Washington Runs on Hydroelectric Power
- 23. You Can Explore Multiple Abandoned Military Forts and Bunkers Throughout Washington
- 24. Some of the Oldest Complete Human Remains were Found in Kennewick, WA
- 25. Father’s Day was Invented in Spokane
- 26. Washington Has Its Own Stonehenge
- 27. Everett, WA Has the Largest Building in the World By Volume
- 28. There are 29 Recognized Native Tribes in Washington State
- 29. Washington’s State Flower is the West Coast Rhododendron
- 30. Washington is Named After the First President
- 31. There are No Traffic Lights in the San Juan Islands
- 32. Spokane Has the Largest 3 on 3 Outdoor Basketball Tournament in the Country
- 33. Boeing Built A Fake City in Washington During WWII
- FAQs About Washington State
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33 Facts about Washington State
1. You’ll Face Fines and Jail Time If You Kill Sasquatch
Don’t even think about harming the region’s favorite cryptid! In 1969, Washington’s Skamania County passed a law making it illegal to kill Bigfoot. At the time, Sasquatch hunters and believers were showing up to the county with firearms that made locals uneasy.
The law was meant to curb this lackadaisical use of firearms. But it’s stated clearly: harm Sasquatch and you can face a year or more in jail and $1,000 in fines. So whether or not you believe in Bigfoot, the creature is protected in Washington state. [Source]
2. There Are More UFO Sightings Per Capita in Washington Than in Any Other State
Washington State is a good place to go to see a UFO. There are reportedly more UFO sightings per capita in Washington state than any other state in the USA. There were approximately 88 UFO sightings per 100,00 residents according to the National UFO Reporting Center. So if you believe in life on other planets, you just might find evidence of it in the Evergreen state. [Source]
3. 75% of Hops Grown in the USA Come From Washington State
There’s a good chance you’ve tasted a beer brewed from Washington hops if you like beer. This is because Washington State produces around 75% of all the hops grown in the United States.
Go to Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington to see where Washington hops are grown. There’s even a Yakima Valley Fresh Hop Ale Festival dedicated to the crop and the fresh brews made from it.
📚 Related Reading: 19 Best Seattle Breweries in 2023
4. Washington Has the Highest Number of Glaciers in the Contiguous USA
Alaska is the US state with the most glaciers, but Washington is right behind it. Washington State is known for having the highest number of glaciers in the contiguous United States. You’ll find the majority of these in the North Cascades National Park and Mount Rainier National Park.
5. Seattle Isn’t the Capitol of Washington
While Seattle is the largest city in Washington State, it’s not the state’s capital. It wasn’t even in the running for being the capital when the choice was originally made in 1853. Olympia, WA is Washington State’s capital city. In 1889, cities like Ellensburg in central Washington put forth a bid to become the capital, but ultimately voters stuck with Olympia.
6. Pickleball Was Invented in Washington
One of the fun facts about Washington State is that it’s the original home of Pickleball! Pickleball is a fun and creative game that’s essentially a mix between badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. In 1965, three dads on Bainbridge Island came up with a new sport to keep their kids entertained. The popular game is still played all over the island and beyond.
7. Petrified Wood is Washington’s State Gem
Petrified Wood is a type of fossilized wood. This unique fossil is found all over North America. It was named Washington’s state gem because of the vast presence of rare petrified Gingko trees in the state. Visit Ginkgo Petrified Forest in the Wanapum Recreation area where you’ll find fascinating and rare specimens.
8. Washington Has the Longest Floating Bridge in the World
The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge over Lake Washington is the longest floating bridge in the world. This bridge, which connects Seattle to Mercer Island, Bellevue, and beyond, is 7,710 feet long. You can drive, bike, or walk across this bridge and enjoy views of the lake, city, and mountains while you do.
9. Washington Has Three National Parks
Washington has three national parks for outdoor enthusiasts. The parks are Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, and the Olympic National Park. Hiking and camping are great at any of these parks spanning glaciated jagged mountain peaks to the Pacific Ocean.
10. Tahoma is the Indigenous Name for Mount Rainier
Native tribes in Washington had their own name for the iconic mountain before it was renamed Mount Rainier. The Puyallup tribe, for example, called it Mount Tahoma or Tacoma since time immemorial.
One translation of the name is “mother of waters,” and another is “that frozen water.” Given the mountain’s many waterfalls and glaciated peaks, the name certainly makes sense.
11. Palouse Falls is Washington’s State Waterfall
The remote Palouse Falls is one of Washington’s best waterfalls. Despite how far it is from most major cities, Palouse Falls is well worth a visit and makes for a great road trip. It was named Washington’s state waterfall in 2014. Come to Palouse Falls State Park to check out the stunning waterfall, backed by a landscape formed by glaciers thousands of years ago.
12. Washington Grows the Most Apples in the USA
One of the tastiest Washington fun facts is that the state produces the most apples in the USA. Washington accounts for over 60% of apples grown in the country. So chances are, if you love the fruit, you’ve tasted some of the state’s bounty. Wenatchee, Chelan, and Okanogan are a few of the main growing regions.
13. Amazon, Starbucks, and Boeing Were Founded in WA
Washington is a Pacific Northwest state that’s known for its tech and innovation. While many big companies were founded here, there are three that are household names and stand above the rest. Amazon, Starbucks, and Boeing all originated in Washington state and still play big roles in the state’s economy.
14. Washington State Has Active Volcanoes
The Mount St Helens eruption in 1980 is one of the most infamous Washington events. Mount St Helens is along The Ring of Fire and is one of the most active volcanoes in the USA. But it’s not the only active volcano in the state. Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, and Mount Adams are the other active volcanoes in Washington state.
15. Salmon is Washington’s Most Important Fish
Salmon is one of the major Washington state symbols. It’s especially important for the state’s Native peoples. These tribes, from Puget Sound to the Pacific Coast and Columbia River, often call themselves The Salmon People. The fish is an important food source, as well as a core part of their identities and culture. [Source]
16. Washington State Operates the Largest Ferry Fleet in the Country
Washington State Ferries are one of the main ways to get around the state, used by both visitors and Washington residents. So it makes sense that Washington operates the largest ferry fleet in the country.
There are over 21 ferries in the fleet and these take visitors all over Puget Sound. Take a Washington ferry to various Puget Sound islands, to the Olympic Peninsula, and even to British Columbia, Canada. [Source]
17. Not all of Washington is Covered in Forests
Over half the state is covered in greenery and forests that earned Washington the nickname Evergreen State. But not all of the state is like this. East of the Cascade Mountains in central and eastern Washington, you’ll find a vastly different landscape. Gorges, scabland, farmland, and coulees make up the other half of the state, adding to its richness and diversity.
18. You Have to Cross Through Canada to Get to Part of Washington
You’ll need to bring your passport to visit one particular part of Washington! Point Roberts is on the northwestern end of Washington. It’s separated from the rest of the state by the Canadian border.
If you want to visit the remote Point Roberts, you’ll need to cross into British Columbia, and then cross back into the United States. Kids living in Point Roberts in grade four or higher have to cross both borders several times a day to get to and from school.
Find out more about Point Roberts in my guide to the 27 Best Places to Visit in Washington State.
19. Washington State Has the Third Deepest Lake in the Country
Lake Chelan is one of Washington State’s best lakes, and it also happens to be the third deepest in the country. It’s 1,486 feet, deeper than even the Great Lakes. In addition to being one of the deepest lakes, it’s also a popular spot for summer excursions.
20. A Pig Triggered a War on the San Juan Islands
One of the unusual fun facts about Washington state is that the shooting of a pig triggered the start of a “war” on the San Juan Islands. A border dispute between the United States and the United Kingdom was ongoing in the late 19th century. Both countries had laid a claim to the San Juan Islands.
Both American and British citizens lived on the island. When a US man killed a UK man’s pig because he claimed it was trespassing on his land, the conflict escalated. Droves of Americans with cannons, and British warships began to assemble.
However, after word got to London and Washington, representatives were sent to de-escalate the situation. In the end, there were no casualties (minus that of the pig, of course). [Source]
21. Twilight Brought Forks, Washington to Fame
Not many people knew of Forks, Washington before Stephenie Meyer published the Twilight series. Meyer’s story is set in Forks, a Washington small town on the Olympic Peninsula, which happens to be one of the rainiest places in the continental United States.
Forks, WA has several Twilight-related things to do. But it’s also a good home base for exploring the Olympic National Park and its rainforests and Pacific Ocean beaches.
22. Washington Runs on Hydroelectric Power
Washington state’s most widely used renewable energy source is hydroelectric power. This energy source accounts for around 67% of Washington’s total electricity generation.
The place where the vast majority of Washington’s hydroelectric energy is produced is the Grand Coulee Dam. Located on the Columbia River, the Grand Coulee Dam is one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in the USA. [Source]
23. You Can Explore Multiple Abandoned Military Forts and Bunkers Throughout Washington
Washington’s position on the western end of the USA makes it a prime spot for military mobilization. This was especially so during World War II. There is still a significant military presence in Washington, but many of the bunkers, forts, and bases used in World War II are inactive.
The area around a lot of these old bunkers has been converted into state parks, and you can explore them freely. Check out Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Fort Casey on Whidbey Island, or Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island to start.
24. Some of the Oldest Complete Human Remains were Found in Kennewick, WA
In 1996, the remains of a Paleolithic man were found by two spectators at hydroplane races on the banks of the Columbia River. To this date, it was one of the most complete ancient human remains ever found. It was nicknamed the Kennewick Man because it was found in the city of Kennewick, Washington, and was estimated to be around 9,000 years old.
25. Father’s Day was Invented in Spokane
The nationwide holiday, Father’s Day, was first celebrated in 1910, and it was invented in Washington state. Spokane resident, Sonora Smart Dodd was the holiday’s creator.
After hearing a sermon in her church regarding the Mother’s Day holiday, she proposed a similar one be created for fathers. This was important for her, especially because she was raised by a single dad of six.
26. Washington Has Its Own Stonehenge
You don’t need to go all the way to the United Kingdom to see Stonehenge… that is if you’re okay with a replica. About 4 hours from Seattle near the small town of Marysville is Washington’s own Stonehenge Memorial. It was built by the Marysville museum founder, Sam Hill, and it’s a full-scale replica of Stonehenge and a WWI memorial.
27. Everett, WA Has the Largest Building in the World By Volume
The Boeing Factory in Everett, WA is large. It’s so large in fact that it’s the biggest building in the world by volume. This is where Boeing’s 747s have been assembled since it opened in 1967. Today, other aircraft including the 767, 777, and 787 are made at the Boeing Factory. As of Summer 2023, the Boeing Factory Tour is currently closed, with no solidified plans to reopen yet.
28. There are 29 Recognized Native Tribes in Washington State
Washington State currently has 29 federally recognized Native Tribes. Several unrecognized but still prominent tribes in the area are the Duwamish, Wapanum, and Chinook. There is a rich Indigenous culture in the state and various museums, festivals, and galleries where people can learn more.
29. Washington’s State Flower is the West Coast Rhododendron
Washington’s state flower is the West Coast Rhododendron. Washington women unofficially selected it in 1892 to enter a flower exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair. It wasn’t until 1959 that the legislature officially recognized the native species as the state’s official flower.
30. Washington is Named After the First President
Washington State is the only state in the USA that’s named after a president. We have the first president, George Washington, to thank for the state’s name.
The state was almost named Columbia. However, a representative from Kentucky worried there would be too much confusion with the District of Columbia. So they went with Washington. The state still gets confused with Washington D.C. anyway.
31. There are No Traffic Lights in the San Juan Islands
While driving around the San Juans, you may notice something’s missing. There are no traffic lights in the San Juan Islands! In general, driving around on the island is peaceful. Even honking is rare.
32. Spokane Has the Largest 3 on 3 Outdoor Basketball Tournament in the Country
Basketball lovers will enjoy Spokane’s Hoopfest event. It’s the largest 3 on 3 outdoor basketball tournament in the country. It’s a big deal for the city, raising 47 million dollars for the local economy annually. All ages can sign up to participate, or you can watch and enjoy all of the food, entertainment, and shopping options during the festival.
33. Boeing Built A Fake City in Washington During WWII
During the second world war, Boeing needed to expand its operations to build larger aircraft. To do this, they built a plant known as Boeing Plant 2 that could accommodate production. To disguise it from a possible aerial attack, they hired Hollywood set designers to help build a fake city.
Designers built plywood and canvas houses with chicken feather lawns and fake streets. This way, the plant blended in with a nearby neighborhood. The completely fake town was nicknamed “Boeing Wonderland.” [Source]
FAQs About Washington State
What are 3 things Washington is known for?
3 things Washington is known for are its beautiful nature, agriculture, and being a hub of technology and innovation.
What is unique about Washington State?
Some unique things about Washington State are that it has the largest ferry fleet in the country and it produces 75% of the country’s hops. There are more UFO sightings per capita in Washington than anywhere else in the USA. Finally, during WWII, Boeing created a fake city in Seattle to disguise aircraft production.
What is Washington State historically famous for?
Washington State is historically famous for being part of Lewis and Clark’s exploration. It is also famous for being the only state named after a US president and for its military and defense importance.
Washington State is such a unique and interesting part of the United States. Hopefully, now that you know these fun facts about Washington State, you’ll have an even more enriching and exciting visit. Check out my article of fun facts about Seattle, Washington’s largest city, next!
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