Traveling this Fall? Trip #32

Traveling around the Olympic Peninsula in the fall can be sublime. The days are usually warm, evenings cool and mornings have that crisp, clean warmth. Here’s a quick 3-day itinerary to see the best of the best.

Day One. Starting in Seattle or Tacoma. Be ready for a busy day.  Enjoy the splendor of the

Hurricane Hill Hike

Hurricane Hill Hike

Elk in the Dosewallips River

Elk in the Dosewallips River

leaves changing color along Hood Canal. Grab a bite to eat at one of the several places with local seafood. Check out the Olympic Peninsula Culinary Loop for suggestions. You’ll probably see bald eagles and herons, and perhaps a herd of Roosevelt elk. If you pack a lunch, stop at Triton Cove State Park. Continue on Hwy. 101 North to Port Angeles. From

there it’s about 45 minutes to the top of Hurricane Ridge. Hopefully, there will be new snow on the mountain range. Stunning hike to Hurricane Hill! You can see the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada, and the interior of the Olympic Mountains. Overnight in Port Angeles or the surrounding area.

Fall at Lake Crescent

Fall at Lake Crescent

Day Two. Heading west on Hwy 101. Enjoy the beauty of Lake Crescent. Take a walk through the woods to Marymere Falls, one of the falls on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail. The trailhead can be found turning off Hwy 101 with the signs to Lake Crescent Lodge. The lodge is open until January 1, then closes for the season. Continue around the lake to Hwy 113, the to Hwy112 West. Hwy 112 is one of the newer Scenic Byways in our state. At this time of year the leaves along this route, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca sparkling water to the north, is one of the favorite drives. Scenic it is! Head to Neah Bay and Cape Flattery, the most NW tip of the contiguous US. There is a short hike, mostly on boardwalk to the overlook to Tatoosh Island. You’ll often see whales and an array of marine animals and shore birds. Make a stop at the Makah Museum. World-class exhibits you won’t soon forget. Either stay along Hwy 112 or wander into Forks or La Push on the Quileute Nation for the night.

Olympic Peninsula Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Day Three. Check out the Visitor Center in Forks, Land of Twilight. You’ll be amazed at the map with pins representing visitors’ homelands. There’s John’s Beach Combing Museum in Forks. Take a look at what washes up on our shores. Traveling south on Hwy 101, make a turn into the Hoh Rain Forest. Walk the Hall of Mosses for that other-worldly experience of hiking through canopies of drippy moss. Catch the Ranger-led walk if you can. Back to Hwy 101 and a stop at Ruby Beach. One of our favorites. Continuing south, Kalaloch Lodge has dining and accommodations right above the beach.  Or further down Hwy 101, you’ll find Lake Quinault with many types of lodging and dining. Interesting fact about Lake Quinault. The National Park owns some of the property around the lake. The Olympic National Forest owns part of the land and the Quinault Nation has jurisdiction over the water.

The morning of the fourth day, head back to Seattle/Tacoma/Portland/Olympia. It’s closest to keep going on 101, making almost the entire loop.

Olympic Peninsula Map

Port Angeles vs. Chattanooga

PA Campaign for Best Town

PA Campaign for Best Town

Earlier this spring Outside Magazine asked America to identify America’s Best Town Ever in their fifth annual contest. Outside Magazine looked for places with great access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and, of course, a good beer scene. For the first time, they added a wild-card round, letting their Instagram followers nominate favorite towns. As wild cards, Port Angeles, WA; New York, NY; Saugatuck, MI; and Roanoke, VA filled final spots in each section of the bracket. A beautiful video was produced to help support the Port Angeles cause, showing off the area at its finest. Do you see familiar places?  https://vimeo.com/129609263

After a lively campaign Port Angeles and Chattanooga ended up in the finals with Chattanooga taking the top prize. Port Angeles had a tough road to get to there, going through Santa Barbara, CA; Bainbridge Island, WA; Glenwood Springs, CO; Flagstaff, AZ; and Eau Claire, WI. With a population of only 19,000, Port Angeles had a fine showing against more populated areas. Chattanooga’s population is a little more than 193,000. It was a David and Goliath battle to be sure!  Chattanooga’s final round count was 67,432 votes to Port Angeles’ 62,130 (52 percent to 48 percent). At the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau there are visibly more requests for Travel Planners from Chattanooga area since the contest!

This friendly (for the most part!) contest brought the two towns in contact with each other and forged a connection between the two communities. At the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau there have been more requests for Travel Planners from Chattanooga area since the contest!

In July, the sad story of the death of four Marines and a Navy Petty Officer during an assault on Military Recruiting office sent Chattanooga into shock and Port Angeles into sympathy for our newly-acquired Tennessee friends. Twenty banners with sympathy messages expressing condolences to the people of Chattanooga were taken personally to Chattanooga’s mayor by Leslie Kidwell Robertson. You can read the story of Leslie’s visit to Chattanooga at Revitalize Port Angeles. It was reported that everyone who saw the banners were deeply moved when they were presented.

Finding Totem Poles on the OP

A Few Totems Around the Olympic Peninsula

Sequim Totem Pole

Sequim Totem Pole

After a meeting in Sequim we stopped to look at the new totem pole installed at the site of the new City of Sequim offices. The totem is the starring highlight of the plaza outside the building. Stop to take a look (and some photos!) on your way through Sequim. The totem represents the sun always shining in Sequim. We know that’s true! The legend this pole represents can be found at this link. There is also a geological reason the sun shines a lot in Sequim; and that is because of the rain shadow created by the Olympic Mountains. As weather systems come ashore along the Pacific Coast, the mountains slow the systems down where a majority of rain gets deposited on the western slopes, creating the famous, lush, mossy rainforests.

For a description about the rain shadow, Wikipedia does a pretty good job:

Rain Shadow Effect

Rain Shadow Effect

The Dungeness Valley around SequimWashington lies in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. The area averages 10–15 inches of rain per year, less than half of the amount received in nearby Port Angeles and approximately 10% of that which falls in Forks on the western side of the mountains. To a lesser extent, this rain shadow extends to other parts of the eastern Olympic Peninsula, Whidbey Island, and parts of the San Juan Islands and southeastern Vancouver Island around Victoria, British Columbia.

Port Ludlow Totem Pole

Port Ludlow Totem Pole

After spending some time examining the Sequim totem, I got to thinking about other totem poles and carvings on the Olympic Peninsula.  Port Ludlow did a re-dedication last July 4th of their 40-foot refurbished totem pole that sits on Burner Point. It was originally carved from a 720-year-old western red cedar that grew near the Hoh Rain Forest and was blown down in the 1993 windstorm. If you get to stop to see this totem, you’ll find places to go kayaking, good food and beverages, and a picture-worthy marina. There are often bald eagles keeping an eye on things around the area. If you have time, Ludlow Falls is not far. OlympicPeninsulaWaterfallTrail.com

 

Artists Pavilion, Neah Bay

Artists Pavilion, Neah Bay

Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal Center

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Center

PA totem poles

Port Angeles Totem Poles

Another stop on Hwy 101 is in Blyn at the Tribal Center for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the Longhouse Market and 7 Cedars Casino. There are several totems at these properties along the edge of Discovery Bay. A stop at the House of Myth (the totem carving shed) at the Tribal Center is a special treat if the doors are open. Stick your head in to watch! They are actively carving totem poles by traditional methods and tools. It smells so good with cedar essence in the air.

Port Angeles waterfront has two totem poles to stop and visit while you pick up additional information you may need from the Visitor Center on Railroad Avenue. One represents our glorious past, our great present and the future for all of us. While you are there you might want to walk out the pier for a view back across the city with the Olympic Mountains in the background.

Carved figures at the Makah Cultural & Resource Center

Carved figures at the Makah Cultural & Resource Center

Part of the Olympic Discovery Trail goes in front of the Visitor Center. This rails-to-trails project along the old railroad line traverses peninsula lowlands, bordered on the south by the Olympic Mountains and on the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. One end point is the Victorian seaport of Port Townsend, the other is La Push on the Pacific Ocean. When complete, the trail will be a 130-mile-long, wide, paved path designed for multiple uses: bicyclists, hikers, and disabled users, with a 4’ shoulder for equestrians where appropriate.

There are several totem poles in Forks and some lovely carvings in La Push. If you’re in Neah Bay, you’ll see two figures by the Makah Cultural & Resource Center and Museum. Be sure to stop by the new Artist’s Center on Hobuck Road, Neah Bay.

 

Farmers Markets

farmers markets

Beautiful rutabaga at the Jefferson County Farmers Market

It’s that time again to revel in the bounty of the Olympic Peninsula. This is a blog that we posted a couple years ago and have updated. Things have changed, but not our love of these markets.

The Olympic Peninsula is home to an incredible bounty of fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, fish, meat, flowers, herbs, and locally produced products. Farmers markets are great ways to support local producers and create your own Olympic Coast Cuisine dishes. There are numerous famers markets to choose from, a couple are even award-winning. Many are open primarily during the summer and early fall while a few markets stay open year round. The Olympic Peninsula is also home to bakers, cheese makers, honey producers, and chefs many of whom are represented at the farmers markets. In addition to edible products, many of the farmers markets offer local artisan wares such as jewelry, lotions, pottery, fiber arts, garden decor, and even toys. Below is a list of some of the farmers markets around the Olympic Peninsula.

Chimacum Farmers Market – Sundays 10-3, June-October, 9122 Rhody Dr.

A colorful display at the Sequim Farmers Market

Forks Open Aire Market– Saturdays 10-3, Mid-May-September, 1421 S. Forks Ave.

Jefferson County Farmers Markets– Saturdays 9-2 April-December, Wednesday Summer Market 2-6, 650 Tyler St. Port Townsend

Quilcene Farmers Market-April through Sept at Hwy. 101 & Center

 

Port Angeles Farmers Markets – Saturdays 10-2 Year Round, Wednesday Summer Market 10-2, Downtown at Gateway Transit Center

Sequim Farmers Market – Saturdays 9-3, May-October, 2nd & Cedar St.

Baskets at the Chimacum Corner Farmstand

Shelton Farmers Market – Saturdays 9-3, May-September, Franklin St.

Farm fresh produce and products can also be found year round at farm stands and stores.

Chimacum Corner Farmstand– Open daily 9 am – 7 pm. 9122 Rhody Drive, Chimacum, WA.  360-732-0107

Nash’s Farm Store – Open daily 9 am – 7 pm.  4681 Sequim-Dungeness Way, Sequim, WA.  360-683-4642

Sunsets West Co-op – Open daily 10 am – 7 pm, longer in the summer. 16795 Hwy 112, Clallam Bay, WA.  360-963-2189

Junior Ranger Program at Olympic National Park

Rangers in National Parks study different aspects of the parks to understand animals, vegetation, geology and many other things to help protect the parks, as well as to help visitors understand and safely enjoy their visits. Your younger traveling companions can help! When you visit the park they can complete the steps in a Junior Ranger booklet to become an Olympic National Park Junior Ranger.

Pick-up a copy of the Olympic National Park Junior Ranger booklet at any visitor center in the park. Add even more to your visit by borrowing the Olympic National Park Discovery Backpack to enhance your exploration of the park.

contents of Jr. ranger backpack

Click here for details of the Discovery Pack

In the backpack you’ll find field worksheets, two interactive outdoor games, and six photo field guides. When our out-of-town, wanna-be ranger participated in the program we were treated to her poem about the Hoh Rainforest, and long conversations in the car about the flora and fauna she had learned about and identified. It was an afternoon well spent – out among nature, enjoying all we could see, hear and smell through different eyes. It was a joy to witness the unbound enthusiasm in our young traveling companion for the beauty and diversity of Olympic National Park.

Jr. Ranger swearing in

Taking the Jr. Ranger Oath

After she had completed the tasks in her booklet and they were reviewed by a Ranger, she stood proudly in front of him and took the oath for being a Jr. Ranger, which she took very seriously. She still treasures her badge and displays it proudly in her room among the stuffed animals and Harry Potter memorabilia!

 

If you are interested in Jr. Ranger Programs, check out becoming a Web Ranger! There is lots of information, quizzes and activities. Join the Webrangers Community. Click here!

Wondering Which Olympic Peninsula Loop to Drive?

Traveling around ‘loops’ seems to appeal to many people these days.

On the Olympic Peninsula, we have three loops to try out!

Olympic Peninsula MapLoop #1. A natural way to explore the Olympic Peninsula is around the Highway 101 Scenic Byway Loop. Start in Seattle/Tacoma/Olympia, circle the OP and arrive back at your starting spot. This loop drive of about 329 miles will take you a minimum of about eight hours – with NO stops for anything! Not sure why anyone would want to do this, but they do! It’s way more pleasant to stop to take some photos, stop to enjoy some Olympic Coast Cuisine (like fresh oysters along Hood Canal), stop to do some geocaching along the way, stop to look for whales, stop to meet some locals or view other wild life! Taking only a few highlight stops along the way will probably make it a 15-hour trip. Why not make it two or three days? You’ll be able to get to places in Olympic National Park like Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rainforest and Rialto Beach. More information from earlier blog post.

Highway 112 loopLoop #2 is the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway. Take Hwy. 112 from Port Angeles to Neah Bay and back. Yes, this is stretching the loop concept a little, but it’s a glorious drive on Hwy. 112 all the way to Neah Bay. For part of the trip, the road will hug the shore along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, providing you with possibilities to see whales and other marine mammals and birds. LOTS of birds!

Stops along the way would be in Joyce to visit the Joyce General Store and the Joyce Depot Museum. If you’re going through during the Wild Blackberry Festival in August, lucky you! All the blackberry pie you can eat. (August 1, 2015) Once in Neah Bay, the Makah Cultural and Resource Center and Museum is a must. World-class museum at the edge of the earth. You’ll need to retrace a little bit of Hwy. 112 and then return by Hwy. 113 to Hwy. 101 around Lake Crescent and back to Port Angeles. Enjoy the clear blue water of the lake or a hike to Marymere Falls, an hour hike to a lovely falls.

Loop #3. Travel the 31-mile loop around Lake Quinault in the heart of the Quinault Rainforest! Driving around takes about two hours, but it will give you the opportunity to see wildlife – Roosevelt elk, deer, bald eagles, just mention the most common. You might see a fisher, black bear, cougar or bobcat, but these are rare sightings in the area. So feel special if you run across one of these extraordinary animals.

Check out the waterfalls along the way. The Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail web site has detailed information about falls on the Olympic Peninsula. There are four falls mentioned specifically in the Quinault area, Willaby, Bunch Creek, Merriman and Gatton Creek Falls, as well as Enchanted Valley. Enchanted Valley requires a 12.9 mile-mile hike into the valley. The trail head is near Lake Quinault.  At this moment, 5/18/15, Enchanted Valley is closed to camping after reports of bear-human interactions. Check with the Park for updates. 360-565-3130.

Getting Here is Part of the FUN!

Washington State FerryWhether you are coming to the Olympic Peninsula from your home in Washington, continuing from SEATAC airport or driving from another destination, getting to the Olympic Peninsula is half the fun. You can find several Washington State Ferry routes to begin your adventure. Ferry Schedule.

According to the WNPS Olympia News Bureau, Washington’s ferry system is not only the largest in the country, but it’s also the largest vehicle ferry system on EARTH: over 10 million vehicles carried per year. Astounding!

The ferries are Washington’s single largest tourist attraction. Taking a ride on the ferry can get you some gorgeous views of the mountain ranges of the Cascades and Olympic Mountains, as well as individual peaks over 10,00 feet, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker.

Washington’s ferries are the single largest state contributor to carbon emissions, but an eventual conversion from diesel to liquefied natural gas aims to change that.

Washington ferries boast a 99.5 percent reliability rating. Only one in every 200 voyages is delayed or canceled. One of the routes that gets canceled on occasion is Port Townsend / Coupeville, usually for extremely low tides.

The largest vehicles in the fleet can carry up to 2,500 people and 202 vehicles. There are more than 400 Washington ferry departures per day. Have a look and plot your course to take advantage of great boat ride. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/pdf/wsfroutemap.pdf

Washington Ferry

 

Dungeness Wildlife Refuge Turns 100 Years Old

Dungeness SpitCATCH ONE OF THE CELEBRATIONS!

The Dungeness Wildlife Refuge will have a year-long, public celebration to help commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2015. Everyone is welcome! A short version of the history of the refuge: On January 20, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed an Executive Order establishing the Dungeness Spit Reservation as “…a refuge, preserve, and breeding ground for native birds.” In 1940 the Reservation’s name changed to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. One hundred years later, celebrations for the Refuge are planned with a series of educational events throughout 2015.

197See the 2015 Schedule of events and join the commemoration of 100 years of working for wildlife. There are several birding walks during the year, a kid’s day on June 20 with hands-on activities, and two geology walks on July 18. We are all waiting for July to learn more about the geology of the Olympic Peninsula and why it’s such a magnet for birds and other animals.

172If you are planning to include a visit to the Refuge on an upcoming trip to the Olympic Peninsula, the Refuge opens at sunrise and closes ½ hour before sunset daily. An entrance fee of $3.00 is required. A minimal amount to take in this wonderful place. Children 15 and younger are free.  And, please, no pets are allowed. We want the ‘locals’ to have run of the place – the local deer, otter, nesting birds and so on!

mapHere’s a kind of fuzzy map, but you can get the general lay of the land. Accordihng to Wikipedia, Dungeness Spit is a 5.5-mile (8.9 km) long sand spit and the longest natural sand spit in the United States. The lighthouse at the end of the spit was once run by United States Coast Guard, but in 1976 an automatic light was installed, and since 1994 it has been staffed and maintained by the volunteer ‘New Dungeness Light Station Association’. If you are interested in being a lighthouse keeper for a week, check out the website. The spit is open to the public year around.

It was first found by Europeans during the Spanish 1790 Quimper expedition. The name ‘Dungeness’ comes from the Dungeness headland in England. The spit was named by explorer George Vancouver in 1792, who wrote: “The low sandy point of land, which from its great resemblance to Dungeness in the British Channel, I called New Dungeness.” We’ll go along with the Wikipedia description of our past and heritage of the spit.

OlympicDiscoveryTrail – Lowland fun during winter

ODT Trailhead

ODT Trailhead

Last time we walked part of the Olympic Discovery Trail, it was a colorful canopy of leaves above and a scattering of color underfoot. Leaves fell like huge, lazy orange snowflakes, except not wet and cold! We’re so lucky to experience the Trail in all seasons. Now, with winter is full 50 degree weather, it’s still the perfect time to get in a good walk (or ride) without having to venture too far from home base.

One of the favorite rides is the 3.3 section from the 18th Street trail head west of Port Angeles to the Elwha River Bridge. Ride onto the lower deck of the bridge to and duck out of a brief rainstorm. Return in the spring to watch salmon returning upstream to the river and its tributaries. Last fall fish were spotted upstream of the upper dam for the first time in 100 years and they still know where to return! Ain’t nature wonderful!

Here’s a video that was done a while ago, but it might give you some ideas of where to take a winter ride or walk between Port Angeles and Sequim. I know there are wildflowers, leafy green trees and sunny meadows in the video, but, hey, we don’t stay indoors because of a little coastal mist.

All the way from Port Townsend to La Push. Pick a spot, any spot, along the way for an outing. Our winter has been so mild (so far) and we’ve been able to play outside most of the season. Aren’t we lucky? Come join us. The Olympic Discovery Trail has places along the way to stop and get warm, dry out and start all over again!

 

 

Mother Nature at Her Best

Glines Canyon

Glines Canyon

Parts of the Elwha River area are OPEN for viewing

The largest dam removal project in US history began on the Elwha River in 2011, removing two, 100-year-old dams. The Restoration part of the project is underway and the Elwha River is flowing freely from its headwaters in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca for the first time in 100 years. With the dams gone, salmon and other migratory fish are returning to 70 miles of spawning habitat, bringing with them the promise of a restored ecosystem and renewed cultural tradition for the Lower Elwha tribe.

To witness some of Mother Nature’s magic, you now can visit Elwha River Restoration Viewpoints. In the above photo, there are two sections high above the river that remain for visitor use as viewing platforms. The one on the right is accessible now and after additional work, the left viewing area will be open later in 2015 when interpretive signs are installed and the parking lot is complete.

The former Elwha Dam (Lower Dam, as it was called)/Lake Aldwell lake bed and Glines Canyon Dam/Lake Mills lake bed sites, as well as Olympic Hot Springs Road are open to the public. The parking area at the former Glines Canyon Dam site remains closed; and the Elwha River and its tributaries within Olympic National Park are closed to all fishing. Boating is prohibited from Upper Lake Mills Trail to Altair Campground.

About Glines viewpoints — here’s a map of the access for both the Whiskey Bend Road (east) side and the Olympic Hot Springs Road (west) side. Both are open, but viewpoint and lake bed access is only available on the east side. Anticipated opening the western Glines viewpoint and lake bed access from that area is summer 2015.

Elwha_area_closures_mills2014_v7