Fun in the Water: Diving to Rafting, Snohomish County, Washington

Washington State is beautiful on the ground--snow-capped volcanoes, fir-tipped islands, wildflower meadows, rolling wheat fields--but it truly shines when you combine all that with rushing water. Here are two fun ways to get wet in Snohomish County, just north of Seattle, this summer. To drill down on these adventures, check out the Snohomish County Visitors Bureau. 

1. Scuba diving in Edmonds, Washington (home to famous world traveler, Rick Steves). See the ferry below? For years, I rode it from Edmonds to  the Kitsap Peninsula, and then drove west until I hit Washington's wild Pacific Ocean beaches. But, look what I was missing right by the ferry dock. These divers are about to plunge into the bountiful, 27-acre Edmonds UnderWater Park, the most popular of the Washington's 10 underwater parks. 

Scuba dive down to the the nature trails and you'll see sunken vessels and "enormous lingcod, cabezons, spotted ratfish, various greenlings and rockfish, seaperch, gobys, sculpins, flounders, sole, eelpouts, Dungeness, red rock, kelp and hermit crabs, horse clams, geoducks, scallops, heart cockles, moon snail, giant pacific & red octopus, sea cucumbers, and numerous species of anemones, sea stars, urchin, nudibranchs, shrimp and seaweed."

2. Rafting.  I've rafted/kayaked all over the world, last year in Chile, but have barely scraped the surface in Washington State. Who knew the liftoff town of Index, was only an hour's drive from my Seattle home? This summer I rafted the Skykomish River with AdventureConnect and the Outdoor Adventures Center, a half-day, nine-mile shoot through the rapids, ending in a hot tub and steak feast in the company's Index headquarters.

The water was so warm that we got to jump out of our rafts at one point and swim around (albeit in neoprene suits), a rarity in these parts. I discovered that you can also snorkel with spawning salmon in the Skykomish later in the year.

Outdoor Adventures has two other adventures on my bucket list: 1. saltwater kayaking near Lopez Island. 2. Rafting the Sauk River, up in the North Cascades. Also try one of my favorite adventures: raft the Skagit River during eagle season to see the nesting birds. There's lots more water in Snohomish County. See you in Index (below).

Photo credits: Top photos, Snohomish County Tourism Bureau. Bottom photo: Outdoor Adventures. Index: Candace Dempsey