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Shining a Spotlight on Darrington’s Iconic Recreation Destinations

Posted: 05/30/2014
By: Thomas O'Keefe

American Whitewater joins coalition in unveiling a new "Destination Darrington" map as Highway 530 opens to all traffic this weekend restoring access to recreational opportunities

DARRINGTON, WA – Today, ten leading conservation and recreation groups and the outdoor retail companies, Outdoor Research and REI, are working to put the Washington town of Darrington "on the map" as the "Gateway to the North Cascades," for world-class fishing, hiking, camping, biking, rafting and more. These organizations, with the support of local businesses, have produced a colorful brochure map spotlighting recreational opportunities around Darrington.
The new map can be downloaded for free at In addition, REI is covering the costs to print 20,000 hardcopies of the new coalitions’ destination map. Both REI and Outdoor Research will begin distributing them in their stores in the region next week – all part of the coalition’s efforts to help Darrington recover from the tragic Highway 530 slide earlier this year. Visitors to can also make a donation to help the town get back on its feet.
"We are truly grateful for the assistance from the conservation and recreation community and hope to see lots of visitors this summer – our welcome mat is out for everyone," said Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin. “We want everyone to know that Darrington is still open for business and are relieved that Highway 530 will be re-opened in time for this weekend’s Darrington Day and the remainder of the summer recreation season."
"Darrington, Washington is a small town surrounded by the unsurpassed beauty of majestic mountains, old growth forests, rushing rivers and miles of hiking trails to explore! We invite everyone to come to our annual Darrington Day Celebration May, 31st and the rest of the summer," said Martha Rasmussen from the Darrington Area Business Association and manager of the Destination Darrington website.
On March 22, 2014, a mudslide devastated the small community of Steelhead Haven in Oso, taking dozens of lives, and blocking access to the town of Darrington and nearby recreational destinations. At the request of U.S. Senator Patty Murray, members of the conservation and recreation community came together to support the communities in the Stillaguamish Valley.
After weeks of traffic limited to local residents and Highway 530 posted as closed, Darrington is now open for business and the SR 530 bypass access route around the slide (one lane) is open to the general public for everyone wanting to come out and enjoy Darrington's world-class outdoor recreation.
Just a 90-minute drive from Seattle, Darrington is surrounded by public lands and situated near two wild and scenic rivers – the Sauk and Suiattle – and three wilderness areas – the Henry M. Jackson, Boulder River, and Glacier Peak – all of which provide world-class recreational opportunities for hiking, camping, climbing, road and mountain biking, rafting, horseback riding and fishing.
"The Sauk River is one of the top whitewater destinations in the state,” notes American Whitewater's Thomas O'Keefe. "The river is at a prime flow for rafting and a river trip is one of the best ways to experience one of our nation's most beautiful wild and scenic rivers."
"Darrington has been and continues to be a gateway to world-class outdoor recreation opportunities, like the recently protected Green Mountain Lookout," said Kitty Craig, Washington deputy director for The Wilderness Society. As Senator Patty Murray shared, the lookout is "a place where parents have brought their kids for generations to appreciate the splendor of the great outdoors in the Northwest. And it's a place that has been a vital source of tourism-related income and a source of historical pride for the local community of Darrington."
"The wild lands just out the backdoor in Darrington are incredible. The reason we work to protect these places is so current and future generations can enjoy them," said Tom Uniack, conservation director for Washington Wild. "The Darrington area is a hub for opportunities to explore old-growth forests, wild rivers and scenic vistas for families, couples and outdoor enthusiasts."
"Nestled in the North Cascades, Darrington is the prime basecamp for daytrips, weekend escapes and weeklong adventures," said Andrea Imler, advocacy director for Washington Trails Association. "If you love to hike, there’s a trail for you here – from the family-friendly Old Sauk trail to the jaw-dropping Green Mountain trail."
Matt Perkins of the Washington Climbers Coalition pointed out that "rock climbers have been finding exciting challenges here as well, with granite domes in Clear Creek and Squire Creek and other opportunities throughout the Darrington area."
"The conservation and recreation community were happy to do what we can to support the local economy of Darrington in the wake of the tragic slide,” said Dan Ritzman of the Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club “This is a small part of the statewide and national response to help. We appreciate efforts by Senator Patty Murray to bring our communities together and make a difference."
To download the Destination Darrington map visit or pick one up at the cash register on your next visit to REI or Outdoor Research starting next week. 

Thomas O'Keefe

3537 NE 87th St.

Seattle, WA 98115

Phone: 425-417-9012
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