Our Visit to Mima Mounds in Olympia

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Mima Mounds in Olympia, WashingtonLast weekend, I told my husband that I was in a mood to get out of the house and go for a drive! He suggested we visit the Mima Mounds.

HUH? I asked. I’d never heard of this.

My husband seems to know about all these cool, random things and Mima Mounds happened to be one of them. Sure, why not. Let’s go!

Getting to Mima Mounds in Olympia

Mima Mounds is an easy drive off I-5, just outside of Olympia. (You can see this website for more specific directions.) You will need a Discover Pass to park here, so heads up!

Sign at Mima Mounds

What is this place, exactly? Well, it’s a Natural Area Preserve known for its unusual land features – mounds. (Surprise!)

Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve

This picture doesn’t do it justice, but the land basically rolls up and down, and up and down, like little hills.

Trails at Mima Mounds

There are some lovely trails that will take you through the landscape. Unfortunately, it was extremely rainy and windy during our visit! So, we did not make it the entire way, opting instead to leave a bit earlier than planned for clam chowder at our favorite Olympia restaurant, Budd Bay Café (seriously folks, get the chowder!).

Pic with my Daughter at Mima Mounds

Of course, we stayed long enough to get some silly selfies!

Family Outing at Mima Mounds

My kids decided it would be much better to come back for a visit during a sunnier day!

Selfies at Mima Mounds

My husband can’t be serious. Like, ever. UGH.

Camas at Mima Mounds

In spite of the rain, one of the advantages of a springtime visit would be to see all the beautiful wildflowers in bloom! As soon as we got there, I’d seriously regretted not packing along my Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast book (Amazon link). When I got home, I was able to quickly identify this flower as camas, which is a member of the lily family.

Camas Meadows at Mima Mounds

I had told my husband that the flowers almost looked like water snaking through the mounds! I found it interesting to read in my plant book that Meriweather Lewis had journaled the following about a camas meadow: “on first sight I could have sworn it was water.” I also learned that camas bulbs were an important staple among native people in our region. (However, they often grow in proximity to death-camas, which as the name implies, is poisonous. Therefore, I’d probably recommend you leave camas alone.)

What caused Mima Mounds?

The interesting thing is that no one knows what caused the Mima Mounds, though there are many possible explanations including earthquakes and glacial activity.


Although, I prefer the more colorful theories myself.

Mima Mounds Lookout

We’ll definitely come back for a visit, preferably on a nicer day so we can make the full 1.9-mile trail loop.

I’d love to know if you’ve been here, and/or if you have any personal theories about the Mounds! Leave a comment below.

PS can I recommend another AMAZING nearby spot to take your family?

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge


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