Washington has an overall coastline of only 253 km (157 mi) and a detailed coastline, which includes the shoreline of all bays, indentations, and islands, of 4,870 km (3,026 mi). The principal indentation is Puget Sound, which is connected with the Pacific Ocean by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. More than 300 islands, including the San Juan Islands, and a number of rocky protuberances, stud the sound and confine navigation to defined channels. Other major indentations are Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. Long sandy beaches border the southwestern coast between the bays. The ocean side of the Olympic Peninsula is bordered by rugged cliffs and headlands.
All of Washington’s rivers drain toward the Pacific Ocean. The most important is the Columbia River, which enters Washington from British Columbia. The river is navigable by oceangoing vessels as far upstream as Vancouver, and by barge to Pasco, with continued navigation on the Snake River to Lewiston, Idaho. Principal tributaries are the Pend Oreille, Spokane, Okanogan, Methow, Wenatchee, Yakima, Snake, Lewis, and Cowlitz rivers.
A number of smaller streams drain the western sections of the state. They include the Skagit, Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Cedar, Puyallup, and Nisqually, which drain into Puget Sound, and the Quinault, Chehalis, and Willapa, which drain into the Pacific.
More than 8,000 lakes and ponds are scattered over the state; most of the largest are impoundments of hydroelectric dams. The largest artificial lake is Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, reaching for 243 km (151 mi) on the Columbia River. "Washington" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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