The Most Sprawling College Campus in Washington Is Basically Its Own City

Written by Justin Zipprich
Updated: October 28, 2023
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Key Points

  • The University of Washington is located in Seattle, which is the northernmost major city in the United States and is situated between Lake Washington and Puget Sound.
  • The campus covers 703 acres and is home to over 500 buildings, making it its own city.
  • The University of Washington has spent over one billion dollars on research and development, ranking it fifth in the nation.
  • The campus is home to a variety of wildlife, including mammals like raccoons, deer, and black bears, as well as birds like crows and owls.

Washington State is known for the natural beauty of the Pacific-Northwest, its rich agriculture, and a fantastic educational system. If you’re choosing a university based on size, then visit the most sprawling college campus in Washington. Today, we’ll tell you about that famous college, including the true size of its campus, interesting facts, and animals that call the area home.

What is the Most Sprawling College Campus in Washington?

When judging by land area, the largest college campus in Washington is the University of Washington, at 703 acres

Where is the University of Washington Located?

The University of Washington is located in the great city of Seattle, a seaport city on the Westcoast. Seattle is the seat of King County in the state of Washington. At a population of 733,919, as of 2021, it’s one of the most populous cities in the United States, and the large enrollment of the university is a major contributor.

Seattle is located snuggly on an isthmus between Lake Washington and Puget Sound. It’s the northernmost major city in the country, and it’s about 100 miles south of the Canadian border. 

In addition to being the home of the University of Washington, it’s also home to the University of Washington Educational Outreach, which is the school’s professional and continuing education unit. According to the 2017 edition of News & World Report, UW is the number 11 university in the world. The education sector is well-represented in Seattle as there are many other smaller institutions, including Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University, Western Seminary, and the Pratt Fine Arts Center, among others. 

The Features That Make the University of Washington so Vast

The University of Washington was founded in 1861, making it one of the oldest colleges in the country. It was established about a decade after Seattle was founded. In addition to the 703-acre main campus, the school also has satellite campuses in Bothell and Tacoma. It’s wild to think about the size, especially considering that the school started at only 10 acres when it was founded.

The campus truly is its own city since it’s home to over 500 buildings. There are many towns across the nation that don’t have half that many structures. The buildings there are so vast that they cover over 20 million square feet of space. The campus is also home to one of the largest library systems in the entire world, and students can visit numerous different museums, art centers, and stadiums. Most cities in the world don’t even have one of those! Of course, there are also many classrooms, laboratories, and lecture halls mixed in there as well.

This is an incredible university that produces a lot of bright students and does a lot for the world in general. In recent years, the school has spent over one billion dollars on research and development, which ranks it fifth in the nation. The college has also produced a lot of athletes over the years. There are 22 different varsity sports teams, and many student-athletes have gone on to compete in the Olympics. 

Four-Part Campus

The huge campus is made up of four parts: north, south, east, and west campuses. Each of them has amazing sights to behold. Head to the north campus and visit the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, which houses a 66-million-year-old T-Rex skull. The south campus is home to the medical school. The east campus contains several class buildings in addition to animal-filled wetlands. Finally, the west campus has buildings on many of Seattle’s city streets.

Wildlife Around the University of Washington

American Black Bear in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Many wild animals can be found around the University of Washington, including black bears.

©Orhan Cam/

The most sprawling college campus in Washington is also home to many amazing animal species. Travel through the campus grounds or the greater Seattle area, and you could come across a myriad of different birds, reptiles, mammals, and more. The official animal of Washington is the Olympic marmot, which is a cousin to the squirrel


There are many incredible mammals traveling around Seattle, including common species like raccoons, deer, coyotes, elk, and rabbits. However, there are also some exotic species walking the forests, such as bobcats, cougars, black bears, bats, and tree squirrels.


Look up at the skies, and you can also see a variety of birds, from common species like crows, pigeons, robins, and owls to more unique birds, including turkeys and Canadian geese.

Dangerous Animals in the State

There are also some dangerous animals to look out for when you’re strolling around campus, including the western rattlesnake, which has enough venom to pose a danger to humans. There’s also the Asian giant hornet, which can be lethal, but the death rate is quite low. You aren’t likely to run into these critters, but be careful nonetheless. 

Flora at the University of Washington

While touring the sprawling campus or the larger Seattle area, you’re bound to run across some of the many amazing trees, flowers, and plants that call the area home. Common flora in the area include:

  • Pacific bleeding heart
  • Red columbine
  • Tall mountain shooting star
  • Red-osier dogwood 
  • Evergreen huckleberry
  • Indian plum 
  • Vine maple
  • Wild ginger
  • Red flowering currant


This has been your tour of the University of Washington, the most sprawling college campus in Washington. This incredible school has plenty of rich history and a wonderful education program that has been churning out bright minds for years. Consider paying the school a visit the next time you’re in the greater Seattle area.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Justin Zipprich is a writer at A-Z Animals, where his primary focus is travel, state facts, pets, and mammals. Justin has been writing and editing animal content for over 7 years, though he holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Instructional Technology from Western Illinois University, which he earned in 2005. As a resident of Texas, he loves discovering local animals and spending time with his wife and two kids.

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