Welcome to Southwest Washington

Home to Craft Beer, Towering Volcanoes and Resident Adventurers

Anyone who tells you there’s nothing to do in Southwest Washington clearly hasn’t been paying attention.

In and around Lewis County, visitors and residents alike won’t have to travel far to find hiking, biking, sight-seeing, mountain climbing, hang gliding, old-growth forests, working farms and living history. We have two active volcanoes, one of which — Mount St. Helens — offers views of real-time recovery from its catastrophic 1980 eruption.

In this guide, we’ve picked a handful of our best offerings to give visitors a closer look at what full-time residents treasure on a daily basis. 

First, The Chronicle’s resident adventurer Alex Brown compiles a bucket list for outdoors enthusiasts coming to Lewis County, including the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (in which Centralia is the half-way point), the Pe Ell River Run, scaling Mount St. Helens or Mt. Rainier and hiking the Wonderland Trail. 

And did you know that it was in the heart of the Southern Cascades, in Mineral in fact, that the term “flying saucer” was coined by a UFO witness? It was, and reporter Cody Neuenschwander recounts that history starting on page 17, along with a preview of a UFO-themed festival scheduled for September. 

If you see a UFO on your travels to East Lewis County, maybe you’ll need a beer. Reporter Katie Hayes’ story, starting on page 20, will tell you exactly where to get the best craft beer, wine and spirits in the area. 

If traveling on your feet isn’t your thing, take the train. The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad offers trips through the scenic Chehalis River Valley, with a regular season starting in May. Reporter Lydia Denney’s story on the railroad starts on page 25. 

And if you’re looking for a little friendly competition, check out one of the regions many golf courses. Reporter Will Rubin gives a rundown starting on page 28. 

Summer in Lewis County is festival season, and a comprehensive list of festivals of all kinds, from Swede Days in Rochester to Onalaska’s Apple Harvest Festival is included inside, as are a list of family-friendly activities. 

This tourism guide only scratches the surface of the possibilities when it comes to exploring beautiful Southwest Washington. Take our advice and check out some of the activities listed here, then strike out on an adventure of your own.