Category Archives: Transportation

Travel the Olympic Peninsula w/o a Car

Yes, travel to the Olympic Peninsula without a car can be done

Travel to the Olympic Peninsula without a car can be a challenge, but it can be done. There are many resources to help you plan your visit sans automobile. We hope this blog post will inspire you plan and navigate your way around with a bicycle or on foot. If you are bicycling, check out the Olympic Discovery Trail for transportation corridors across the peninsula. If you are arriving at SEATAC Airport, Seattle, The Dungeness Line or Rocket Transportation shuttles are easy to find at the south end of the airport. The Dungeness Line has a scheduled route, while Rocket Transportation will deliver you to your specified destination.

Links to local websitesto connect around the Olympic Peninsula:

  • Clallam Transit Bus. Contact the Clallam Transit center directly for questions about their routes and prices 800-858-3747.  Keep in mind, also, that you can rack a bicycle on the Clallam Transit buses for free on a  first-come first-served space.
  • Mason County Transit Authority. All MTA buses are equipped with bike racks to carry two or three conventional single seat, two-wheeled bicycles.
  • Jefferson TransitThis website has a page with a listing of other auto-less transportation options for the entire area - Seattle, Victoria, Kitsap, Whidbey Island. A useful resource!
  • Grays Harbor Transit
  • Another option is hiring a private tour guide to take you anywhere you want to go.  Here is a link with a list of them.
If you are based in Port Angeles, you'll find these bus lines with some suggestions of things to see and how to get there.
pt erider a new way to travel in Port Townsend

PTe-rider - a new way to travel in Port Townsend

#30 Port Angeles to Sequim. Once you're in Sequim you can schedule a Dial-a-Ride to take you out to the Dungeness Rec Area where there is camping and hiking.  This needs to be scheduled 24 hours in advance. From Sequim to Port Townsend take the Jefferson Transit #8 bus.  There is a cool new way to explore this charming, Victorian seaport. It's the PTe-rider. Hop aboard the first electric shuttle service in Washington State. Open April through October, they offer taxi service tours of Port Townsend's historic districts. #10 Port Angeles to Joyce on Hwy 112 will drop you off at Camp Hayden Rd. which is about 4 miles south of Salt Creek Recreation Area. It would be a hike to get to Salt Creek, but if it's low tide and you are a tidepooler, it might be worth it. Even if you don't want to go as far as Salt Creek, I'd recommend the blackberry pie at the Blackberry Cafe - also the jalapeno burger if it's still on the menu. Two must dos are the Joyce General Store and the Joyce Museum. Words can't adequately explain - it's part history, part now. Start by talking to Margaret at the museum. She can tell you the historical details, local lore and guide you through the museum that used to be the old railroad station. #20 Port Angeles to the Olympic National Park Visitor Information Center where passes and permits can be bought.  This route will drop you off a couple blocks down the hill from the Visitor Information Center. You would need to hire a vehicle to take you up the mountain, either taxi or guide. Here's a link to guide services.  Green 8 Taxi Service.  Black Tie Taxi Service.
Travel Lake-C-fall-pano-lo.jpg

Lake Crescent

#14 Port Angeles along Hwy 101 around Lake Crescent.  Stopping here at Lake Crescent you can hike to Marymere Falls and into the backcountry. A visit to Lake Crescent Lodge is an historical treat. Sit on the sun porch with cool drink in hand, relaxing in wicker chairs and watching the kayakers and swimmers. This route will also take you to Forks, if you ever want to travel from its serene shores.
Travel Camping on Second Beach

Second Beach

#15 Forks to La Push.  At La Push are the hikes to Second Beach and Third Beach, both great for setting up a tent and falling asleep to the sound of the waves. These beaches are located in the National Park and so camping permits to stay overnight need to be obtained from the Visitor Center in Port Angeles.  There are no amenities or camping sites on these beaches and everything must be packed in and packed back out. Forks south to Lake Quinault. Jefferson Travel from Forks (Forks Transfer Center is located at 552 S Forks Ave & E Street) can take you south to Lake Quinault area, stopping at Lower Hoh, Kalaloch, Queets and then to Amanda Park Mercantile at the lake. From Amanda Park you can transfer to Grays Harbor Transit, which will require a separate fare and exact change. #16 Port Angeles to Neah Bay.  The Makah Reservation has its own bus system once the Clallam County system drops you off.  There is a bus that will take you to the Cape Flattery Trail but contact this bus system directly to make sure.  Cape Flattery is the most NW point of the contiguous United States. There are views of Tattoosh Island and lighthouse along with excellent wildlife viewing. If the whales aren't around, the birds will be. There is no service of this bus system on Saturdays, Sundays, or Holidays. Be sure to visit the Makah Cultural and Resource Center. It's a world-class museum with artifacts and displays highlighting the history and culture of this part of the world.

Travel to Victoria, Canada - Bring your passport!

The side trip popular with many visitors is to travel to Victoria, BC, Canada, is a simple, 90-minutes, walk-on ride on the Coho Ferry. The ferry docks in the beautiful inner harbor across the street from the Parliament Building. Make your visit a "two-nation vacation"! If you are bringing your bike or would just like to have a lovely walk, put the Galloping Goose Trail from Victoria to Sooke on your itinerary. Here are some photos from their website. Have fun and travel safely!

News Spotlight on the OP!

The Olympic Peninsula has been all over media in September! Here's a sampling of what's being said: Congratulations to Port Townsend for the “5 Fabulous Things to Do In Port Townsend” by writer, Paola Thomas, for Seattle Refined, a partner with KOMONews.
  • Breakfast at the Blue Moose Café,
  • Visit the Northwest Maritime Center,
  • Shop at Port Townsend Farmers’ Market
  • Afternoon tea at Pippa’s Real Tea, and
  • Shopping on Water Street.
The Olympic Peninsula is so proud of the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT). Terri Gleich of the Kitsap Sun covered “Olympic Discovery Trail an Expanding Wonder”.  Almost 80 miles of the trail are complete. The ODT is used for both commuting and recreation and will eventually link Port Townsend to La Push with a paved path.
Port Angeles during Crab Festival

Port Angeles during Crab Festival

Of course, the Olympic Peninsula is taking some of the cudos for Port Angeles being named one of the “America’s Best Towns” by Outside Magazine. Second only to Chattanooga, Tennessee, Port Angeles made a strong showing, coming from a wild-card placement in the competition. And, with a population of about nine times smaller than Chattanooga, it’s even more impressive to have lost in the polling by a small margin. The top five places went to:
  • Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  • Iowa City, Iowa
  • Port Angeles, Washington
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
Olympic National Park Sign at Rialto Beach

ONP Sign at Rialto

Tripping, the world’s largest vacation rental site, named Rialto Beach, in Olympic National Park, one of "10 Perfect Honeymoon Beach Destinations". Other places mentioned were Honeymoon Beach in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands; Wailea Beach on Maui, Hawaii; Carmel in California; and, Hanalei Bay on Kauai, Hawaii. Take a look as some stunning photographs from Shi Shi Beach from an article written by Kristin Jackson for the Seattle Times, "Visiting Washington’s wild and magical Shi Shi Beach". We couldn’t agree more that’s it one of the most stunning, magical places on the Peninsula! Moira Macdonald, a Seattle Times arts writer, captured the charm and essence of Port Townsend in her article, "There’s Something for All Kinds of Tourists in the Olympic Peninsula Town" – culture, history and the outdoors!
Washington State Ferry

Washington State Ferry

Conde Nast Traveler has named the Washington State Ferry System as one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. And, we're in good company with Hong Kong, London, Sydney and Venice also being in this group! Why not hop on one of those WA State ferries and come out to the Olympic Peninsula, our very own UNESCO World Heritage site, the Olympic National Park.  The journey is part of the fun!  
Olympic Peninsula Sol Duc pools

Sol Duc pools

Here is a link to the online version of an article on Northwest hot springs resorts by Tamara Muldoon. This article, Play, Soak, Repeat at Hot Springs Resorts, includes Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort in Olympic National Park. The resort, open seasonally, has basic yet comfortable cabins, RV and tent campsites. Three hot spring pools, a freshwater swimming pool, massage, hiking trails complete the experience at Sol Duc.

Accessible Travel on the Olympic Peninsula

Here's a video from the National Forest Service. It takes a quick tour around the Hwy 101 Loop of places to go and things to see that are wheelchair accessible. This is the first blog to start gathering information about wheelchair accessible travel on the Olympic Peninsula. If you can add additional places or ideas for wheelchair exploration, please comment here, or email to communications@olympicpeninsula.org. We want to build an all-inclusive data base! One new great new possibility on the Olympic Peninsula is going for a ride up in a hot air balloon to view the peninsula from above! There is a company based in Sequim, called Morning Star Balloon Co.  An article in the Peninsula Daily News  by Chris McDaniel on Sept. 23, talked about Captain-Crystal Stout, the Chief Flight Officer and Owner, and the special, two-seated aircraft designed for challenged individuals. Captain-Crystal is also the Executive Director of a fantastic non-profit, 501(c)3 foundation called Dream Catcher Balloon Program. To find out more about this awesome program go to Dream Catcher Balloon Program.
PDN article

PDN article. READ MORE

While the weather is still nice this fall, Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and the Meadow Loop Trails are a good place to get outside and enjoy the wonderful views of the Olympic Mountains to the south, and Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands to the north. The Loop Trails offer several short, flat viewing areas. Check out TripAdvisor for some lovely photos of the area. Madison Creek Falls on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail has a paved trail that runs from the parking lot to the base of the falls. This 200-foot path is paved and near a great spot for picnicking.   Check out OlympicPeninsula.org website for a list of accessible accommodations.  

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  

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!    

In the Land of “It Depends”

A friend told us an interesting story the other day that shed some light on a very important aspect of traveling – perspective.  We all know every human has his or her own perspective.  All of our visitors are unique and their homes are as unique as ours is.  The region that our friend was referring to in particular was that which she calls the “Flat Lands”.  The Flat Lands are the Midwestern heart of America where the Great Plains roll into the horizon and (from what I’ve heard) the roads remain straight and perpendicular. If you can see a flat horizon out your window, you might be in the Flat Lands.  The “Flat Landers” are the people of this land.   If you measure distance in miles and have a habit of punctuality, you might be a Flat Lander.  And as her story goes, on a flight into Seatac Airport one day she couldn’t help but overhear two Flat Landers’ plans for a “little side trip” from their Seattle business convention.  The colleagues planned on hopping from Seattle to Port Angeles, across the Strait to Victoria, British Columbia, skipping over to Vancouver, British Columbia, and jumping back down to Seattle… …in one day. It was about this time that our friend intervened. “Excuse me,” she said as she tapped one of them on the shoulder “I’m sorry, but I heard your plans and I must tell you that what you are wanting to do is impossible.”  Now there’s little doubt the two colleagues were probably shocked by this Washingtonian’s interruption but fortunately they let her continue.  She explained that when a visitor looks at a map of the land around the Salish Sea, it seems like one actually could drive from Seattle to Port Angeles and through Canada in one day.  But here maps are misleading, miles are measured in minutes, water gets in the way, and we start our travel plans with “It depends...”.
Hood Canal Bridge connects the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas.

Hood Canal Bridge connects the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas.

From a Flat Lander’s perspective, if point A is 60 miles from point B and the speed limit on the highway is 60 miles per hour then (if the rules we were taught to rely on in pre-algebra still hold true) it will take one hour, unless it’s snowing that is. (We Pacific Northwesterners respect the Midwest winters.) Well, that is fine for those people fortunate enough to live with those straight roads and flat horizons.  But from our perspective, the answer to the same question is much more complex and, it seems, much less satisfying to our visitors.
Washington State Ferry

Washington State Ferry unloading its passengers. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

Let’s say for example, point A is Seatac Airport and point B is Victoria, B.C.  In just over 150 miles a traveler could experience a traffic jam or a ferry wait, a backup at the Hood Canal bridge if it opens for a ship, another ferry wait, a 90-minute cross over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and finally standing in line to go through international customs and disembarking.  That’s not including any other stops.  If we used the same math equation above, the entire trip should amount to no more than 2.5 hours, but to quote our well-intentioned friend, that would be “impossible”.  If none of the hurdles above hinders the trip then the speed limit most definitely will.  Most of the highways on the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas are one-lane county roads that meander through small sea-side towns and curving hills.  No zooming through at 60 mph the whole way here.  And, if you’ve been following any of our other blogs, you’ll see that our home is pretty darn interesting!  There are things to do and places to see.  We plan ahead and make extra time because, well, we might make it from point A to point B by a certain time but it depends if we stop and enjoy the trip along the way. Seatac Victoria MapAs it turned out, the two miss-informed business colleagues were so thankful to our friend (and now theirs) that they accepted her invitation to have lunch at her home and make new plans.  After shortening their trip considerably and slowing down to enjoy themselves they returned to the city and eventually back to the Flat Lands with a new perspective of the Pacific Northwest.

From Sea-Tac to the Olympic Peninsula

Hurricane-Ridge-Road.jpgMany travelers have questions about how to get from Seattle to the Olympic Peninsula. There are a number of options-  using public and private transportation- to get from Sea-Tac (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport) to the Olympic Peninsula.
  • One option is to take a Washington State Ferry from downtown Seattle to Bremerton or Bainbridge Island. The Central Link lightrail departs Sea-Tac approximately every 7.5-15 minutes. One way lightrail ticket prices are $2.75 for adults, $1.25 for youth, and .75 for seniors. Passengers depart at the Pioneer Square stop and walk (around 8 minutes) or take a taxi the last leg to the ferry terminal.
  •  Olympic Bus Lines - Dungeness Line offers two trips daily from Port Angeles, Sequim, and Kingston to SeaTac (as well as a couple other destinations). Fares are $49 one way or $79 roundtrip. Rocket Transportation offers shuttle service from additional locations including as far away as Forks and Neah Bay. Prices vary depending on starting point.
  • Kenmore Air, a partner of Alaska Airlines, flies daily from Sea-Tac to Port Angeles. On a clear day, this quick flight features stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
  • Visitors wishing to rent a car can drive South towards Tacoma on I5  and then West on WA-16. From here you can head South on WA-3 towards Shelton or North towards the Hood Canal Bridge.
All pricing and times should be verified with the company ahead of travel. We hope you have a safe trip.