Here are six travel tips from a native Olympic Peninsula-ite, who thinks that winter and spring are special times to enjoy the outdoors here. Yes, of course, it can rain, but good gear will negate any reasons to not get out there to enjoy the lush greens and fresh air. You can find exquisite glimpses of nature that only happen at this time of year. There is a quiet solitude on most trails and the beaches entertain the changing weather. Late winter, early spring are good times to come visit. Whether you storm watch or shred the ski slopes, you’ll find yourself renewed.
- TRAVEL TIP #1. Do some research before you come. If you aren’t one to make reservations ahead, at least check to see if there are activities that may limit hotel availability so you will be prepared. Be sure places you want to go are open and accessible on the days you plan to come. For example, at this time, the Hurricane Ridge Road is open Friday – Sunday. And it depends on the weather. Have a back up plan to find snow if the ‘Ridge road is closed and that’s your destination. Don’t over plan. Give yourself time to enjoy being here. The Olympic Peninsula Travel Planner can help with ideas. OlympicPeninsula.org. PS. If you are bringing your dog, be sure check out the Dog-Friendly Map info from another blog.
- TRAVEL TIP #2. Plan your visit by drive times, not by miles. Drive times and distance don’t always make sense. For example, if you are planning to drive directly to Neah Bay from Seattle it is only 154 miles, but it takes about 4-1/4 hours to get there. Magnificent scenery along the way, but no freeways. From Port Angeles to Forks, it is 56 miles and takes about 1-1/4 hours. These times are dependent on traffic and weather conditions. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the journey. Please obey the speed limit. There are multiple law enforcement agencies that will be watching!
- TRAVEL TIP #3. Pack for wearing layers and bring some rain gear. That’s an all-season recommendation for the Olympic Peninsula. You can drive from a sunny Blue Hole in Sequim to the damp, wet rain forest. Some tennis shoes are good for hiking on slick boardwalks and sturdy hiking boots are good for trails if they are muddy. I’ve seen flip-flops on the beach in the winter and wondered if the people hadn’t packed correctly, if they were trying to be one with the Pacific Ocean, or if they were just teenagers. I’m pretty sure their feet were cold no matter their reasons!
- TRAVEL TIP #4. Budget accordingly. Ferry (if you take one), gas, food, lodging, park permits, attraction fees and souvenirs. The Olympic Peninsula is abundant with things to do for free and low cost. Check out a previous blog for some free suggestions.
- TRAVEL TIP #5. Check out what the locals are doing. The communities around the peninsula are little jewels to explore. Take a look at the local papers, or bulletin boards at grocery stores or shop windows. Join the people who live here to see what they support in their communities. You can find everything from gem shows, to yoga retreats, to baking classes, to fly tying workshops, to “you-name-it” gatherings, to great local theater.
- TRAVEL TIP #6. Be realistic. I guess this is the biggest tip – to be realistic. Have an idea what you’d like to do, but remember all the variables. Weather, distance being the two main ones. Don’t try to do too much. Come and visit multiple times. Enjoy what you can do while you are here. Maybe one trip is only to go to Sol Duc Hot Springs and see one waterfall there. Maybe the next time you’ll go to the beach and stay, checking out a couple nearby beaches. The next time, maybe you will only camp at the Hoh Rainforest and do the hikes from the campground and take a raft trip down the river. You couldn’t do all of those itineraries in one weekend. Well, I guess you could, but you’d need some R&R when you got home!
Enjoy your visit. Relax, play, and let the nature of the Olympic Peninsula soak into you.