- 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!
Twitter at Twitter.com/OlympicCoast
Thanks to Karlyn Langjahr, guest Blogger: Olympic Coast Discovery Center Manager
Adventure Travelers Winter Itinerary #101 for Washington’s Olympic PeninsulaWinter activities on the Olympic Peninsula are pretty much the same as what you can do during any other time of the year – just with different attire! Hiking, kayaking, surfing, biking.
Two-day Adventure on the Olympic PeninsulaArrival Evening in Port Angeles or surrounding area Go for a run or bike ride along the Olympic Discovery Trail. Be sure to put your lights on! Day 1 ~ Hurricane Ridge - Get up early and head to Hurricane Ridge for some outdoor altitude play! A 45-minute drive takes you into the Olympic Mountains. The road is scheduled to be open Fridays through Sundays and Monday holidays through the end of March, weather permitting. Depending on the weather, it will also be open December 26 to January 3. If the parking lot gets too full, the road may close temporarily, so an early start is good thing! Sitting atop an alpine meadow is the day lodge and observation point. From here you have many choices whether there is snow or no snow! No snow? Wander along the trails and stop at great spots for photo opportunities. Snow? Skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoe, snow board! Carrying chains in the car is mandatory during the winter. Take the Ranger-led snowshoe walk that is about a mile and takes about 90 minutes. Learn lots and see the area in a new way. Sign up at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center when you get there. These walks fill up fast. Minimal cost of $7.00 for adults. $3 for children 6 – 15. Free for children 5 and younger. Scope out places to take your cross-country daring-do. Here’s the scoop for Hurricane Ridge.
Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center
Wilderness Information Center
Olympic National Park
3002 Mount Angeles Road
Port Angeles, WA 98362
360-565-3130Day 2 ~ Kayaking the the Morning - Depart for Lake Crescent area A deep, clear 12-mile long lake in the Olympic National Park, 17 miles west of Port Angeles along Hwy 101. There are several spot to launch: Fairholm at the far west end, public boat launch at Barnes Point or in front of Lake Crescent Lodge. Other nooks and launch areas can be found. Enjoy the gorgeousness of this special place. Short paddle, long paddle, your choice. Be aware that the weather can change very rapidly on the lake and the wind usually starts to gather steam at noon. Feel like a short hike to loosen up the legs after sitting in the kayak? Trail options around the Barnes Point area are: the Moments in Time or Marymere Falls. The hike to Mount Storm King is longer and difficult but well worth the steep climb. Be REALLY careful in the winter when the ground is slippery. The cliffs are non-forgiving. If it is snowy or icy, save it for summer! Moments in Time Nature Trail is approximately a ½-mile loop trail and offers nice views of the lake and winds through old-growth forest and former homestead sites. It is located between Nature Bridge and Lake Crescent Lodge. A 1/3-mile trail extends from Storm King Ranger Station parking lot. Marymere Falls is a spectacular 90' waterfall just one mile from Lake Crescent. The trail leads through old growth forest with flowering plants and mushrooms in season. If it’s snowing or freezing cold the waterfall becomes fairyland like you’ve never seen. Totally worth the hike, but be really careful crossing the bridge and along the switchbacks. Across the lake near the headwaters of the Lyre River you’ll find the Spruce Railroad Trail that is also part of the Olympic Discovery Trail. The Spruce Railroad Trail connects the North Shore of Lake Crescent and Lyre River trailheads. Much of this relatively flat 4-mile trail runs on or adjacent to the World War I Spruce Railway bed and offers excellent Lake Crescent views.
Have a safe, warm, adventurous time!
Romantic/Foodie Travelers Winter Itinerary #214 for Washington’s Olympic Peninsula
Comfort food and wine tasting at its best. Take your Valentine wine tasting, stay in a cozy B&B or lodge, and taste exquisite food along the Olympic Culinary Loop.
Red Wine & Chocolate Winery Tour February 13, 14, 15 & 20, 21, 2016 11:00am – 5:00pm 21 and older for wine tastingTaste your way along a leisurely romantic drive through the scenic Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Peninsula Red Wine and Chocolate Tour is one we wait for every year. The tour travels around the peninsula so it is good to have a designated driver. We split the driving by one person driving the Port Angeles/Sequim area one day and another person driving the Port Townsend area the next day. The next tour (NW Wine and Cheese Tour in May!) we switch drivers so each driver gets to taste in both areas. An online ticket is $40 and gets you a commemorative wine glass, complimentary wine tasting and chocolate samples at all TEN wineries on the tour. Tickets sold at the wineries are $45. Tickets are not required to attend. A $7 wine tasting fee will be charged at each winery for non-ticketed visitors. Visit www.olympicpeninsulawineries.org for further information. Each of the wineries will pair their special wines with yummy, decadent chocolate offerings and other tasty treats. Olympic Peninsula Wineries on the Tour Finnriver Farm and Cidery. Tarts baked in the wood fire oven. Variety of adult “cocktails” Address: 142 Barn Swallow Rd, Chimacum, WA 98325 Phone: (360) 732-4337 Marrowstone Vineyards. Dark chocolates, white chocolates and caramels with new wine releases Address: 423 Meade Rd, Nordland, WA 98358 Phone: (360) 385-9608 Lullaby Winery – New Tour Destination. Artisan chocolates from France and Walla Walla paired with four handpicked wines Address: 274 Otto St, Port Townsend, WA 98368 Phone: (509) 386-1324 FairWinds Winery. They will have their chocolate fountain again this year! Address: 1984 Hastings Ave W, Port Townsend, WA 98368 Phone: (360) 385-6899 Eaglemount Wine & Cider. Quince mead, Dandelion wine, local chocolate, hors-d’oeuvres Address: 1893 S Jacob Miller Rd, Port Townsend, WA 98368 Phone: (360) 732-4084 Wind Rose Cellars. Yvonne’s Chocolates, new releases of 2013 Dolcetto and 2012 Bravo Rosso, live music Feb. 7, Feb 13 and 14 Address: 143 W Washington St, Sequim, WA 98382 Phone: (360) 681-0690 Olympic Cellars. Morphs into late 19th century Moulin Rouge. New releases. And 2009 Merlot and 2009 Syrah, both gold medal winners! Address: 255410 US-101, Port Angeles, WA 98362 Phone: (360) 452-0160 Camaraderie Cellars. Quadra, red wine blend is new to the tasting. Pulled pork with cocoa-spiced rub cooked in the winery’s wood fire oven Address: 334 Benson Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98363 Phone: (360) 417-3564 Harbinger Winery. We Do Fudge from Sequim will be there….need we say more? Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and Caramel paired with Dynamo Red? Says it all! Address: 2358 Highway 101 West, US-101, Port Angeles, WA 98363 Phone: (360) 452-4262 Any number of lovely B&Bs will add to the romance and keep you close to the winery tour trail. Check on the Inns of Excellence for ideas. InnsofExcellence.com Also, check the Olympic Culinary Loop for dining ideas. You’ll find the cuisine of the Olympic Peninsula in establishments from casual to white linen napkins. OlympicPeninsulaCulinaryLoop.com
Twenty-one free things to do on the beautiful
Olympic Peninsula, Washington
- OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK. Several times a year, National Park entrance fees are waived. Consult http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm. These days usually are:
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January;
- five days in April for National Park Week;
- August National Park Service Birthday celebration;
- National Public Lands Day in September; and
- Veterans Day weekend in November.
- Take a Twilight tour in Forks to look for vampires. There are organized tours to see places from the popular Stephenie Meyer book series, or you can simply stop by the Forks Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center to pick up a free Twilight map to make your own self-guided tour. While you’re there, take a picture with a replica of Bella’s truck! http://www.forkswa.com/HomeofTwilighttheBook.html
- Travel the “Magical Misty Tour” on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail. A delightful way to explore the Olympic Peninsula, the Waterfall Trail offers year-round adventures and dramatic beauty. From the cliffs of Cape Flattery to the glacial fjord of the Hood Canal, waterfalls of all sizes and shapes abound. A sweet little summer trickle can be a thundering torrent during spring run off. There is a falls for every level of adventure. One waterfall can be seen from a paved, wheelchair accessible path, one can only be reached by kayak or raft, others require short hikes, some can be seen from the car, while others require route finding skills or a backpack trip. http://www.olympicpeninsulawaterfalltrail.com
- Walk the fragrant lavender fields in the Lavender Capital of North America™ Sequim, Washington. Visit the many colorful lavender farms in the Sequim Valley. With over 40 farms, lavender is one of the most fragrant and useful herbs. The weather conditions in Sequim are perfect for lavender. The U-pick season typically lasts from July to the first of October. America’s largest celebration of lavender is always held the third weekend in July with Lavender Weekend in Sequim activities throughout the valley. http://www.lavendergrowers.org/
- Explore World War II forts. Three forts offer history buffs in your family an opportunity to see where guns were located to protect Hood Canal, to check out the still-in-place bunkers or visit the museum at Fort Worden in Port Townsend. Hiking, camping, tide pooling and other activities are also in the areas of these historic reminders of our past.
- Speaking of tide pools! Check out mysterious critters in the tide pool areas around the Olympic Peninsula. Salt Creek with its stunning views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, British Columbia, is the perfect setting to explore some of the most exceptional tide pools in the Northwest. Come during low tide, and you'll see starfish, sea cucumbers, crabs, sea anemones, and urchins among the plentiful sea life on display. Many of these tide pools are located at the Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary, which is under water at high tide. Slip Point near Clallam Bay and areas in Port Townsend also have great tide pools. http://www.visitolympicpeninsula.org/tidepools.html http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/things-to-do/salt-creek-recreation-area
- Take a hike to the ocean in search of petroglyphs. A nine-mile triangle hike (three miles into the beach, three miles along the beach, and three miles back to the trailhead) can be customized to your hiking level. Do the complete nine-plus mile triangle or opt to walk the northern trail to Cape Alava to see ancient petroglyphs of humans and whales.
- We have a 5-acre outdoor art gallery in Port Angeles. Part of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, the Webster’s Woods Art Park features art in many mediums from metal sculptured ferns to a “shoe tree” to a large labyrinth to walk in the meadow. The Woods are open all daylight hours year round. http://www.pafac.org/websters-woods.html. Port Angeles also has a free Art on the Town self-guided sculpture walk through downtown with its award-winning Avenue of the People. http://portangelesdowntown.com/avenue_of_the_people.php
- Experience our wonderful native cultures. Each Tribal community offers places and/or activities for respectful visitors. In late winter and spring in La Push watch the migrating gray whales or join in traditional song with the Wednesday night drumming group. On the grounds of the Makah Cultural and Resource Center and Museum in Neah Bay there are several large totems. And, in Blyn, location of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Center, Longhouse Market and 7 Cedars Casino you can find many more totems. The Resort at Port Ludlow in Port Ludlow and the Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course in Sequim also have totems. To watch this ancient art being re-created with traditional tools and methods, check out the House of Myth on the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Center property. Take a walk on the Warrior Path to an estuary of the Elwha River near the Lower Elwha Tribal Center to see birds and maybe even some river otters. To learn more about the Olympic Peninsula’s native people and cultures visit the web site www.explorepacificnwtribes.com
- Watch for real “tweets” at the Dungeness River Audubon Center. Want to see the detail of Bald Eagle tail feathers or the webbed feet of a seagull? Here’s the place to get up close to native species. Or, you can join a group for a Wednesday morning bird walk to check out birds in the wild. The Dungeness River Audubon Center is located at the site of the historic railroad trestle that crosses the river north of Highway 101. The trestle has been converted to a planked section of the North Olympic Discovery Trail. Territorial views of woodlands, river vistas, local wildlife and native flora beckon from th nature trails. The Center offers interpretive programs, summer science day-camps, and river talks and classes in the River center building, as well as exhibits, displays and specimens.
- Sit in an old buggy at the Joyce Depot Museum. The original log train depot built in 1914 is home to the Joyce Museum. Housing historical memorabilia from the towns of Joyce, Lake Crescent, Twin Rivers and the former town of Port Crescent you will find yourself surrounded by the rich history of the area. The many displays of various artifacts are but a small part of what makes this museum stand out. On shelves casually housing many historical books, you can find nuggets of treasure that bring history to life. Don’t forget to visit the Joyce General Store across the street. If you can’t find it there, you probably don’t need it! Be sure to take a photo of the mailboxes on the wall. The bulletin board outside the store will give you a good idea of things going on in this rural community.
- Watch for whales on the Whale Trail. There are several locations on the OP designated good spots for seeing whales, if they are in the neighborhood. Bring your binoculars for scouting on the horizon, but don’t miss seeing ones that may be very close to shore. Keep your eyes peeled for other marine mammals, too.
- See how far you can skip a stone in the ocean. Ruby Beach with a meandering creek, dramatic sea stacks, and drift logs is named for its sometimes garnet-colored sand. Witness this phenomenon especially near sunset. A gold mining operation was located here in the early 1900s. Olympic National Park protects over 73 miles of the some of the most primitive natural coastline in the 48 contiguous United States. The views of ocean, cliffs, headlands, islands and sea stacks, coupled with the dramatic changing sea, provide a unique wilderness experience. Most of the coast can only be accessed by foot. Rialto Beach and Kalaloch beaches, including Ruby Beach, are accessible by road. You’ll find prefect skipping stones at Rialto Beach near La Push.
- Indulge in a section of the Olympic Peninsula Culinary Loop. Local farms and markets are a source of entertainment for young and old alike, to say nothing of tantalizing the taste buds. Check out the open-air markets during most of the year across the peninsula. Or, introduce yourself to a row of carrots, some bushes of blueberries or take some photos of salmon in a stream or on your plate.
- Pedal the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) or challenge yourself on the Adventure Route. There are many places to enter and exit the ODT that will eventually connect Port Townsend to LaPush with a 130 miles of paved, multi-user trail. This is a perfect place to bring the bikes and get out to see the area. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, take on the 25 miles of groomed, single-and double-track trails.
- Explore a Lighthouse. At 5.5 miles in length, the Dungeness Spit is the longest naturally occurring sand spit in North America and home to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a sanctuary for over 250 species of birds, 41 species of land mammals and eight species of water mammals. Its trails and picnic areas offer breathtaking views of beaches, the Dungeness Harbor and the strait of Juan de Fuca. If you’re up to hiking the spit, you’ll find the old Dungeness Lighthouse, built in 1857 and now on the National Register of Historic Places. Access to the light Station is limited to hikers at low tide
Wildlife Refuge: http://www.fws.gov/washingtonmaritime/dungeness/
- Indulge your inner cowboy at John Wayne Marina. The great film legend, John Wayne, was a frequent visitor to Sequim Bay aboard the family yacht, the "Wild Goose." John Wayne was struck by the pristine natural elegance of Sequim Bay and believed it was the perfect location for a marina. An ideal destination for water adventurers, the marina stands on land donated by the late film star in 1975. The main Marina building has a collection of John Wayne memorabilia on display. The facility is designed to be compatible with its surroundings, so barefoot mariners can look forward to a quiet cove and excellent amenities. Visitors seeking restful waterscapes as a backdrop for picnics and uncomplicated walks will find this picturesque setting ideal.
- Get a history lesson at the Forks Timber Museum. Harvesting timber plays an historic and important role in the economy and development of the Olympic Peninsula. The museum displays exhibits depicting local history dating back to the 1870s. It is located next to the Visitor Information Center in Forks and is open May through October.
- Drive one of the newest Scenic Byways. Highway 112 from Joyce to Neah Bay is truly “scenic” – all 249 curves of it! Take the beautiful drive and count them yourselves! Make extra time to stop along the way at overlooks and at the easy-access beach turnouts! No telling what you’ll find.
- Explore the historic Dungeness Valley. Driving around the Dungeness Valley Scenic Loop and around the outskirts of Sequim, (pronounced skwim), you’ll find an abundance of things to do and see. The organic farms, lavender farms, Audubon Center, Olympic Discovery Trail, and Dungeness Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse (mentioned separately in this list!) are only the beginning of the story with this fertile valley. Steeped in history, this special place is located in the so-called “blue hole”. Contrasting to the 120 inches of rain in the rainforests to the west, Sequim is nestled in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains where the area only receives about 17 inches of rain per year. With the fertile valley and easy access to the Strait of Juan De Juca there is a rich history of this area. Some of these locations are geocache sites on the Geocaching.com website. To get more information about geocaching, check out https://www.geocaching.com/
- ... search Yelp or TripAdvisor for restaurants with high reviews and read all the restaurant ads in magazines before planning your next travel destination?
- ...have friends who tell you about a chef in an area that prepares amazing local, sustainable food and you start researching how to get there ASAP?
- ...watch TV shows that are on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel?
- …Washington Trail Association’s website is set as a browser favorite.
- …the trunk of your car is a storage unit for at-the-ready adventures; a sleeping pad, dusty hiking boots, snow shoes, extra socks, bug spray, a carabineer.
- …you are blown away by Ed Viesters and like each and every one of his Facebook posts.
- … you love dirt and you tear up a little removing your bike rack at the end of the riding season
- …you plan based on what and where are we going to find something to do for everyone.
- …your activities include touching, tugging, digging and discovering (running up, down and all around while discovering awesome stuff)
- …you want to avoid driving endless hours and plan ahead for stop-offs every 60-90
- … you are driven to make meaningful memories where coming away with some sand or dirt between our fingers and toes
- …you seek out locations that will provide privacy
- …you travel to make memories and plan trips that provide stress-free ease of travel
- …you appreciate the journey as much as the destination
- …you will make dining choices on atmosphere as much as on the food
Thanks to ThurstonTalk and Douglas Scott for their original article.
Traveling in different seasons The Hood Canal area and the rest of the Olympic Peninsula will give you more opportunity to see different wildlife if you travel in different seasons. For example, during the warm summer days you would be more likely to see an Olympic Marmot sunbathing on a rock. During the spring and fall, migratory birds show off all over the Peninsula. Eagles are year-round residents, so chances of seeing them are pretty good of seeing them in tall, dead trees. However, when the salmon come back to the rivers to spawn, you'll likely see eagles around the mouth of the rivers. Roosevelt Elk can be seen in herds most of the year.
Mr. Scott's article not only gives good advice on when and where to view wildlife, but he also includes links to other resource information about Hood Canal area, such as a link to Six Quintessential Hood Canal Hikes, or Seven Incredible Viewpoints and Stops along Hood Canal.
Most of all when visiting the Hood Canal, take your time. There is a lot to see and experience. Recently a friendly blogger suggested a four-day minimum stay to enjoy all the area has to investigate.