© Pete Saloutos/Panoramic Images (Washington Title Image Large)
Northwest Coast Ecoregion
Washington’s westernmost and wettest ecoregion extends from ocean depths to the Olympic Mountains’ glaciated peaks. Steller sea lions swim among the greatest number of kelp species in the world, and the endemic Olympic marmot burrows in alpine meadows.
The Northwest Coast ecoregion fronts roughly 150 miles of ocean shoreline and encompasses roughly 11% of Washington State.
To the north, Cape Flattery is the continental United States’ most northwestern point. To the south, the mouth of the Columbia River marks the ecoregion’s southern border in Washington.
Inland lies a narrow band of coastal plain, the picturesque peaks of the Olympic Mountains, and the gentler Willapa Hills.
Like the state’s other ecoregions, the Northwest Coast extends into surrounding regions—north into British Columbia’s Vancouver Island and south along the Oregon coast.
Highway 101 winds north through communities like Ilwaco, Raymond, and Aberdeen-Hoquiam, the region’s most rapidly urbanizing area. It continues north through the timber town of Forks. At Forks, the highway turns east toward the town of Port Angeles and the Puget Trough.
For details of this ecoregion within Washington, click a subheading in the left column.