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August 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Washington’s national parks in top 20 in new ranking

Kayakers paddle in the deep, turquoise waters of Lake Crescent, in Olympic National Park, which rates No. 8 in a new ranking of America's 59 national parks. (photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Kayakers paddle in the deep, turquoise waters of Lake Crescent, in Olympic National Park, which rates No. 8 in a new ranking of America’s 59 national parks. (photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

In a new ranking of America’s 59 national parks, Washington’s three national parks all fall in the top 20.

Olympic National Park is ranked No. 8, North Cascades National Park is ranked No. 14, and Mount Rainier National Park comes in at No. 18.

To come up with the ranking, The Active Times website, oriented to the outdoors and adventure, used three criteria: biodiversity, range of visitor activities and the opinions of an expert panel.

The panel of experts included 17 writers, landscape photographers and travel professionals who write about and study national parks and spend much more time there than the average person. Among those who helped out were Kurt Repanshek, editor of National Parks Traveler, Michael Joseph Oswald, author of “Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 58 National Parks, and nature photographer QT Luoung, who’s captured every park on his large format camera and was featured in Ken Burns’ documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” Recently departed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also weighed in.

Here’s the top 20 in the ranking:

1. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

2. Yosemite National Park, California

3. Acadia National Park, Maine

4. Glacier National Park, Montana

5. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

6. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

7. Zion National Park, Utah

8. Olympic National Park, Washington

9. Sequoia National Park, California

10. Denali National Park, Alaska

11. Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada

12. Everglades National Park, Florida

13. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

14. North Cascades National Park, Washington

15. Redwood National Park, California

16. Kings Canyon National Park, California

17. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

18. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

19. Canyonlands National Park, Utah

20. Big Bend National Park, Texas

Find the full report, including the complete ranking of all parks, here.

Comments | More in national parks, Northwest, Outdoors, Parks | Topics: best national parks, mount rainier national park, national parks

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