Washington Title Image Large
© Pete Saloutos/Panoramic Images (Washington Title Image Large)

West Cascades Outstanding Biodiversity Features

  • A great forested mountain range. The West Cascades still retain significant tracts of natural, or at least semi-natural, forest, although management practices have altered forest structure at lower elevations.
  • Spectacular—and active—volcanoes host lowland to alpine species. Mount Rainier is home to 890 vascular plants, amounting to 30% of the flora found in Washington. Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens are natural laboratories for studying how ecosystems respond to eruptions.
  • Columbia Gorge: a mountain range divided. The Columbia Gorge, the ecoregion’s low point at roughly 50 feet above sea level, splits the Cascades. It is notable as a place where coastal and inland species converge.

For details of this ecoregion within Washington, click a subheading in the left column.

View the more general description of this ecoregion in North America

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