Most rural counties in Washington

Written by:
November 30, 2021
Kevmi // Wikimedia Commons

Most rural counties in Washington

A surprising number of U.S. counties have 100% rural land-702, in fact. Stacker compiled a list of the most rural counties in Washington using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the percent of land area that is rural, as of the 2010 Census, with ties broken by residents per square mile, according to 2019 5-year population estimates.

According to the Census Bureau, rural land encompasses any land that isn't an urban area. To be considered an urban area, a place has to have a densely settled core of census tracts or blocks and count at least 2,500 people, at least 1,500 of whom must be residents of non-institutional buildings. Areas with 50,000 people or more are considered urbanized areas, while areas with between 2,500 and 50,000 people are considered urban clusters.

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Dcoetzee // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Kitsap County

- Rural area: 62.0% (245 square miles)
- Urban area: 38.0% (150 square miles)
- Total land area: 395 square miles
--- #36 largest county in state, #2,549 nationwide

- Population density: 673.2 people / square mile (265,882 residents)
--- #37 lowest density county in state, #2,938 nationwide

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#38. King County

- Rural area: 75.1% (1,588 square miles)
- Urban area: 24.9% (527 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,116 square miles
--- #11 largest county in state, #263 nationwide

- Population density: 1,037.8 people / square mile (2.2 million residents)
--- #39 lowest density county in state, #3,000 nationwide

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SounderBruce // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Pierce County

- Rural area: 79.2% (1,322 square miles)
- Urban area: 20.8% (347 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,670 square miles
--- #23 largest county in state, #360 nationwide

- Population density: 525.3 people / square mile (877,013 residents)
--- #36 lowest density county in state, #2,894 nationwide

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Steve Morgan // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Clark County

- Rural area: 79.6% (501 square miles)
- Urban area: 20.4% (128 square miles)
- Total land area: 629 square miles
--- #35 largest county in state, #1,527 nationwide

- Population density: 752.4 people / square mile (473,252 residents)
--- #38 lowest density county in state, #2,951 nationwide

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Joe Mabel // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Island County

- Rural area: 81.5% (170 square miles)
- Urban area: 18.5% (39 square miles)
- Total land area: 208 square miles
--- #38 largest county in state, #2,986 nationwide

- Population density: 397.5 people / square mile (82,866 residents)
--- #35 lowest density county in state, #2,826 nationwide

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Joe Mabel // Wikicommons

#34. Thurston County

- Rural area: 82.9% (599 square miles)
- Urban area: 17.1% (123 square miles)
- Total land area: 722 square miles
--- #32 largest county in state, #1,237 nationwide

- Population density: 387.4 people / square mile (279,711 residents)
--- #34 lowest density county in state, #2,817 nationwide

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SounderBruce // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Snohomish County

- Rural area: 88.4% (1,846 square miles)
- Urban area: 11.6% (241 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,087 square miles
--- #13 largest county in state, #269 nationwide

- Population density: 382.7 people / square mile (798,808 residents)
--- #33 lowest density county in state, #2,811 nationwide

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Ron Reiring // Wikicommons

#32. Spokane County

- Rural area: 90.3% (1,593 square miles)
- Urban area: 9.7% (171 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,764 square miles
--- #19 largest county in state, #339 nationwide

- Population density: 286.6 people / square mile (505,505 residents)
--- #32 lowest density county in state, #2,718 nationwide

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formulanone // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Benton County

- Rural area: 95.4% (1,622 square miles)
- Urban area: 4.6% (79 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,700 square miles
--- #22 largest county in state, #354 nationwide

- Population density: 116.2 people / square mile (197,518 residents)
--- #31 lowest density county in state, #2,353 nationwide

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Sam Beebe // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Cowlitz County

- Rural area: 96.4% (1,099 square miles)
- Urban area: 3.6% (41 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,140 square miles
--- #28 largest county in state, #544 nationwide

- Population density: 93.7 people / square mile (106,778 residents)
--- #28 lowest density county in state, #2,208 nationwide

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#29. Whatcom County

- Rural area: 96.5% (2,033 square miles)
- Urban area: 3.5% (74 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,107 square miles
--- #12 largest county in state, #266 nationwide

- Population density: 104.8 people / square mile (220,821 residents)
--- #30 lowest density county in state, #2,296 nationwide

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Williamborg // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Franklin County

- Rural area: 97.4% (1,209 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.7% (33 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,242 square miles
--- #27 largest county in state, #489 nationwide

- Population density: 74.1 people / square mile (92,009 residents)
--- #27 lowest density county in state, #2,028 nationwide

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Joe Mabel // Wikicommons

#27. Skagit County

- Rural area: 97.4% (1,686 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.6% (46 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,731 square miles
--- #21 largest county in state, #344 nationwide

- Population density: 72.6 people / square mile (125,612 residents)
--- #26 lowest density county in state, #2,008 nationwide

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Neonstar // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Clallam County

- Rural area: 97.6% (1,696 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.4% (42 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,738 square miles
--- #20 largest county in state, #341 nationwide

- Population density: 43.4 people / square mile (75,392 residents)
--- #22 lowest density county in state, #1,541 nationwide

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Ian Poellet // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Mason County

- Rural area: 97.8% (938 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.2% (21 square miles)
- Total land area: 959 square miles
--- #29 largest county in state, #729 nationwide

- Population density: 66.5 people / square mile (63,804 residents)
--- #25 lowest density county in state, #1,933 nationwide

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Michael S. Shannon // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Yakima County

- Rural area: 98.0% (4,211 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.0% (84 square miles)
- Total land area: 4,295 square miles
--- #2 largest county in state, #105 nationwide

- Population density: 58.1 people / square mile (249,697 residents)
--- #24 lowest density county in state, #1,821 nationwide

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Williamborg // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Asotin County

- Rural area: 98.1% (624 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.9% (12 square miles)
- Total land area: 636 square miles
--- #34 largest county in state, #1,499 nationwide

- Population density: 35.2 people / square mile (22,421 residents)
--- #19 lowest density county in state, #1,344 nationwide

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Squarestate7 // Wikicommons

#22. Walla Walla County

- Rural area: 98.2% (1,247 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.8% (23 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,270 square miles
--- #26 largest county in state, #474 nationwide

- Population density: 47.5 people / square mile (60,365 residents)
--- #23 lowest density county in state, #1,642 nationwide

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Joe Mabel // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Grays Harbor County

- Rural area: 98.6% (1,876 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.4% (26 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,902 square miles
--- #15 largest county in state, #300 nationwide

- Population density: 38.3 people / square mile (72,779 residents)
--- #21 lowest density county in state, #1,432 nationwide

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#20. Grant County

- Rural area: 98.7% (2,646 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.3% (34 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,680 square miles
--- #4 largest county in state, #194 nationwide

- Population density: 35.6 people / square mile (95,502 residents)
--- #20 lowest density county in state, #1,355 nationwide

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Jennifer Gottwald // Wikicommons

#19. Chelan County

- Rural area: 99.1% (2,894 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.9% (27 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,921 square miles
--- #3 largest county in state, #177 nationwide

- Population density: 26.1 people / square mile (76,229 residents)
--- #17 lowest density county in state, #1,100 nationwide

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Thayne Tuason // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Douglas County

- Rural area: 99.1% (1,803 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.9% (16 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,819 square miles
--- #17 largest county in state, #322 nationwide

- Population density: 23.1 people / square mile (42,023 residents)
--- #15 lowest density county in state, #1,006 nationwide

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#17. Lewis County

- Rural area: 99.1% (2,382 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.9% (21 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,403 square miles
--- #6 largest county in state, #226 nationwide

- Population density: 32.5 people / square mile (78,145 residents)
--- #18 lowest density county in state, #1,284 nationwide

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Sam Beebe // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Pacific County

- Rural area: 99.2% (925 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.8% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 933 square miles
--- #30 largest county in state, #767 nationwide

- Population density: 23.3 people / square mile (21,688 residents)
--- #16 lowest density county in state, #1,011 nationwide

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#15. Kittitas County

- Rural area: 99.5% (2,285 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (12 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,297 square miles
--- #8 largest county in state, #242 nationwide

- Population density: 20.0 people / square mile (45,897 residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #895 nationwide

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Adbar // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Jefferson County

- Rural area: 99.5% (1,795 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,804 square miles
--- #18 largest county in state, #326 nationwide

- Population density: 17.3 people / square mile (31,285 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #806 nationwide

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Joe Mabel // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Adams County

- Rural area: 99.6% (1,917 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,925 square miles
--- #14 largest county in state, #295 nationwide

- Population density: 10.2 people / square mile (19,594 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #584 nationwide

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Ilyaunfois // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Whitman County

- Rural area: 99.6% (2,151 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,159 square miles
--- #10 largest county in state, #258 nationwide

- Population density: 22.8 people / square mile (49,231 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #992 nationwide

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BrandonHansen18 // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Stevens County

- Rural area: 99.6% (2,469 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,478 square miles
--- #5 largest county in state, #218 nationwide

- Population density: 18.0 people / square mile (44,655 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #827 nationwide

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MagicalT // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Klickitat County

- Rural area: 99.7% (1,865 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (7 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,871 square miles
--- #16 largest county in state, #305 nationwide

- Population density: 11.6 people / square mile (21,721 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #620 nationwide

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John Stanton // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Columbia County

- Rural area: 99.8% (867 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 869 square miles
--- #31 largest county in state, #942 nationwide

- Population density: 4.6 people / square mile (3,992 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #352 nationwide

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Bouldernavigator // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Okanogan County

- Rural area: 99.9% (5,263 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 5,268 square miles
--- #1 largest county in state, #71 nationwide

- Population density: 7.9 people / square mile (41,842 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #487 nationwide

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Ruthven78 // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Pend Oreille County

- Rural area: 99.9% (1,399 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (1 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,400 square miles
--- #25 largest county in state, #429 nationwide

- Population density: 9.6 people / square mile (13,377 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #558 nationwide

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Jelson25 // Wikimedia Commons

#6. San Juan County

- Rural area: 100.0% (174 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 174 square miles
--- #39 largest county in state, #3,034 nationwide

- Population density: 96.5 people / square mile (16,788 residents)
--- #29 lowest density county in state, #2,231 nationwide

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Walter Siegmund // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Wahkiakum County

- Rural area: 100.0% (263 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 263 square miles
--- #37 largest county in state, #2,877 nationwide

- Population density: 16.2 people / square mile (4,268 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #776 nationwide

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U.S. Geological Survey // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Skamania County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,656 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,656 square miles
--- #24 largest county in state, #364 nationwide

- Population density: 7.1 people / square mile (11,753 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #457 nationwide

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Publichall // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Lincoln County

- Rural area: 100.0% (2,310 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,310 square miles
--- #7 largest county in state, #240 nationwide

- Population density: 4.6 people / square mile (10,574 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #350 nationwide

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Kevmi // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Ferry County

- Rural area: 100.0% (2,203 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,203 square miles
--- #9 largest county in state, #254 nationwide

- Population density: 3.4 people / square mile (7,578 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #265 nationwide

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Calvin Beale // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Garfield County

- Rural area: 100.0% (711 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 711 square miles
--- #33 largest county in state, #1,290 nationwide

- Population density: 3.1 people / square mile (2,230 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #244 nationwide

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