I think it’s safe to say that everyone who reads or has read my blog knows that we, as a family, love a good adventure. We don’t do well doing nothing, and we’ve learned the hard way at past duty stations that if you snooze, you lose. Each duty station with the Army presents us with around three years of time to explore, adventure, see, and do things together – often in a place we’ve never been before. While we’d both visited the PNW before individually, being stationed at JBLM as a family was a different ballgame, and we’ve done our best to make the absolute most of it. Today, we want to share 10 things you have to do around JBLM while stationed here. Some are close, some require a little drive, but trust me…they’re all worth it.
10 Bucket-List Things to Do Around JBLM
1 // Explore the Nisqually Shipwreck
Sure, there are more awe-inspiring shipwrecks to be seen, but this one is literally in your backyard if you live on post. Park in DuPont, take a short walk down a trail, slip and slide your way down a steep hill, and make your way out onto the shores to explore the wreck. You’ll need to know the tides for this one, but it’s worth the visit, especially if you’re just getting settled and just starting to explore. We’ve been twice now, and we’re never disappointed!
2 // Visit Chambers Bay
Chambers Bay is another one of those ultra-easy day/night/half-day easy trips out towards University Place. With a golf course, hiking trails and, of course, the Chambers Bay relics to explore, this was one we were honestly pretty late in the game to discovering. It gets busy on clear days though, so definitely go early!
3 // Hike Around Mt. Rainier National Park
Believe it or not, there are a lot of easy and family-friendly hikes around Mt. Rainier. Since the kids only started hiking at this duty station, we’ve gradually built on their foundation over the past year, and several of our favorite hikes are in Mt. Rainier National Park. Fun fact: Spence and Porter still call it Mountain Reindeer, and I hope it never stops.
4 // See the Pacific up Close at Westport Light State Park
Ocean Shores is probably the most popular beach for those stationed at JBLM, but we’re pretty partial to Westport Light State Park. It’s famed for its tall dunes, waving grasses, dark-sand shores, driftwood, and the eponymous Westport Lighthouse. You’ll need your Discover Pass for this one, but it’s a great place to visit all year long.
5 // Go Tide Pooling at Alki Beach
Alki Beach is in Seattle – a mere hour(ish) from JBLM…though that’s completely dependent on traffic, of course. Alki Beach is famed for its tide pooling though, and we finally made it out there about a month ago on an epically cold and windy day. Easy to access and fun to explore, get there at the right time, and you’ll see everything from anemones to crabs and starfish.
6 // Head Out to Leavenworth (but Skip Oktoberfest)
Okay, hear me out. I’m sure Oktoberfest is awesome there, but that and the Christmas markets account for the two busiest seasons. Do yourself a favor and head out mid-summer. Spend a weekend in Leavenworth. Camp at the KOA and go tubing with Leavenworth Outdoor Center. Bonus – dogs are allowed, it’s fun for kids, and you’ll work up a healthy appetite for schnitzel later!
7 // Experience the Lava Tubes by Mount St. Helens
If you don’t mind a drive, this is perfectly doable for a day trip! Head south towards Oregon’s Trail of Two Forests where you’ll find an easy and ADA-accessible boardwalk trail system. Winding through the woods, you get a picture-perfect nature walk, as well as the opportunity to venture a little off the path into the lava tubes with ladders leading down and through this lasting reminder of the devastation caused by the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
8 // Enjoy a Snow Day in Snoqualmie
Snow isn’t always a guaranteed out here. We get a lot of rain, but we’re lucky if we get one good snowfall each winter here at JBLM. If you’re willing to drive into the mountains though, you can have winter all year long! Snoqualmie is the perfect place to go with plenty of options. Go snowshoeing at Gold Creek Pond (but go really early because it fills up fast), or try tubing up at the Summit resort.
9 // See the Kalaloch Tree of Life
Located up north in the Olympic National Park right by Ruby Beach, the Kalaloch Tree of Life is one of those natural wonders you absolutely must see if you can. Against all odds, the Tree of Life stands with its roots suspended between two separate land bodies with a cave underneath it. Each year it sinks just a tiny bit lower, so who really knows how long this amazing wonder will stand?
10 // Swim in a Glacial Lake
Okay, so maybe we’re the only really crazy ones out here, but if you want to say you’ve done something really spectacular, go swimming in one of the many glacial lakes out here. We’ve taken a dip in a few, but we highly recommend taking the plunge at Emmons Moraine in Mt. Rainier National Park. It’s a sight to behold – turquoise and iridescent – but it’s also downright coooold.
Whether you want to be stationed at JBLM or not, there’s no denying that the adventures in this area are second to none. Whittling it down to just 10 bucket-list things to do around JBLM was really hard, and I’ll miss the adventures we’ve had here as a family, but I’m definitely excited for more to come in Korea!
Tell me – which of these would you enjoy the most?!