Tag Archives: outdoor recreation

Olympic National Park Entrances

Hwy 101 Scenic Byway map

Olympic Peninsula Hwy 101 Scenic Byway

From Hood Canal to Lake Quinault, follow the Highway 101 Scenic Byway to find several possibilities for entering the Olympic National Park. Each place offers different terrain, experiences, and chances to learn more about the park. PORT ANGELES - The primary Olympic National Park Visitor Center is open daily 8:30am - 5:00pm. General information, a children’s Discovery Room, bookshop, maps, exhibits and a near-by nature trail makes this a must stop while in Port Angeles. Be sure to take time to watch the movie. If it isn't running, just ask one of the rangers to start it. For park information call 360-565-3130. If all you want to check is the 24- hour recorded road and weather update, call 360-565-3131. If you need backpacking information or permits, or to acquire required bear cans for backcountry camping, check with the Wilderness Information Center (WIC) May 1 - June 11,  8am - 4:30pm daily June 12 - September 10, 8am - 5pm daily (until 6pm Friday, Saturday) September 11 - 30, 8am- 5pm daily.
Hurricane Hill walk from Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Hill walk from Hurricane Ridge

HURRICANE RIDGE - The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is open daily 9:00am - 5:30pm with information, maps, exhibits, an orientation film, and nearby trails. The snack bar and gift shop are open daily 10:00am - 6:00pm. The information desk is staffed daily 10:00am - 5:30pm. Enjoy the Terrace Talk, daily 10:30am, 1:00pm, 4:00pm. Learn about this amazing wilderness park at a 20-minute talk. Topics vary. Join the easy one-hour guided walk to explore life in the mountains for a Meadow Walk, daily at 11:30am. and 2:00pm. Discover wildlife, wildflowers and other features of the Olympic landscape. HEART O’ THE HILLS - At Heart O’ the Hills Campground amphitheater, join others to enjoy the Evening Program,on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00pm. Topics will be listed on bulletin boards. Junior Ranger Forest Activities are on Saturday at 10:00am for one hour of forest activities. Meet at the campground amphitheater.
Fall at Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent

LAKE CRESCENT - Storm King Ranger Station is open Wednesday - Saturday 11:00am - 4pm with information, activities for kids, and access to trails. Join the Marymere Falls Forest Walk on Fridays at 10:00am. Meet on the Lake Crescent Lodge porch for this easy, 1-1/2-hour guided hike. Got a younger one with you? How about them becoming an Olympic Junior Ranger? This program starts Saturdays 10:30am at Storm King Ranger Station. Join a ranger for an hour of hands-on activities. One of the highlights of summer in the park are the evening programs. Lake Crescent evening gatherings are on Tuesdays and Saturdays 7:30pm at Storm King. Learn more about the park after dark. Topics will be listed on bulletin boards at the Ranger Station. MORA - Beginning June 25, the Mora Ranger Station is open Friday - Monday 1:00 - 5:00pm for   information and maps. Bark Rangers - If you have a dog with you, you might want to show up on Saturdays, Sundays at 10am at the Rialto Beach Trailhead. Learn how to visit the park safely with your pet and earn a Bark Ranger Badge for your pup. There is also an Evening Program - Monday, Friday 8:00pm at the Mora Campground amphitheater. Topics will be listed on bulletin boards at the Ranger Station.
beach

Kalaloch Beach

KALALOCH - Kalaloch Ranger Station is open daily with information, exhibits, bookshop, and maps. Science on the Shore is held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday Times and topics vary with changing tides. Explore the shore with a ranger in this hands-on program. Schedule and location information will be listed on bulletin boards. Vacation Volunteers can take a walk on the coast with a ranger and help leave this park better than you found it -  Saturdays 10:00am - noon.  Bark Rangers - Daily, 1:00 p.m. at  at Learn how to visit the park safely with your pet and earn a Bark Ranger Badge for your pup. Meet at the Kalaloch Lodge Gazebo, daily at 1:00pm.  The Evening Program is held on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8:00pm at the Kalaloch Campground amphitheater. Topics on bulletin boards. QUINAULT RAIN FOREST - Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station on North Shore Road is open Thursday - Monday 9:00am - 5:00pm. It is closed for guided walks and lunch. You find information, exhibits, a bookshop, maps, and nearby trails. Life in the Rain Forest Walk is scheduled Thursday - Monday at 1:00pm. Learn about rain forest plants, animals and homesteader lore. Meet at Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station for this easy 1-1/2-hour, 3/4-mile walk.
Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest

HOH RAIN FOREST - The remodeled Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is open daily 9:00am - 5:00pm. At this visitor center you'll find general park information, a bookshop, maps, and nearby trails. You can get backcountry wilderness permits and bear cans here. There is the Rain Forest Walk at 2pm daily. Learn about giant trees, wildlife and more on this 1-1/2-hour easy walk on the Hall of Mosses or Spruce Nature Trail. Meet at the Hoh Visitor Center. The popular Evening Program begins at 8:00pm at the Hoh Campground amphitheater. Dates and topics on local bulletin boards.
Staircase trailhead sign

Staircase Trailhead Sign

STAIRCASE -  At the south end of Hood Canal you'll find the Staircase entrance to Olympic National Park. The Ranger Station hours vary. They do have information, exhibits, maps, trails nearby. If you are headed into the North Fork of the Skokomish River you will need backcountry wilderness permits and bear cans that are available. Thursday through Sunday at 2:00pm there is a Forest Walk.  Meet at bridge for 1-1/2 -hour walk by the Skokomish River. Discover Staircase!  on Sundays at 10:00am. Meet at the ranger station for this 1/2 -hour talk about the plants, animals or history of Staircase area. Fun for all ages! Evening Program is held Thursday through Saturday 7:30pm. Meet at the Staircase amphitheater.

6 Travel Tips for this Spring

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.
Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent in Winter

Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent in Winter

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Hummingbirds in the winter? Yes!

Anna's hummingbirdIf you are a birder, young or old, you'll add to your life list on the Olympic Peninsula. I'm interested in them, but I'm not a birder - YET. I know that this area almost always leads Washington State in high counts of species during spring migration. The Christmas bird count a big annual event for the Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park along the Olympic Peninsula Discovery Trail. The reason for my investigation?  I've noticed hummers hanging around my house for the last few days. My curiosity was up. So I started some research about these lovely little guys that chose to stay here in the winter. Boy, was I surprised.     In looking for bird information, I found listings for over 350 species that visit the Olympic Peninsula. We have three different types of hummers. Anna's, Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds all have been reported. Maybe on examination, I think I know which one I saw. Anna's like to live in the forests, brush areas and in town. It is a permanent resident along the West Coast from British Columbia to northern Mexico. Calliope's like to live in the forests and have only been seen on the Olympic Peninsula a few times. They are the smallest - about three inches long. (The ones I saw seemed more robust!) That leaves the Rufous hummingbirds. They live in forest, brush areas and in town. They are rarely seen in the winter. They are common in the spring and early summer, and fairly common in the fall. So I probably am not seeing Calliope's or Rufous. But, I want more information. An email to my birder friend says that Anna's should be the only ones hanging around at this time of year. According to ebird.org, there was a registered siting in Neah Bay on February 1. And, Anna's have been seen on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles within the last couple weeks. Conclusion: Anna's Hummingbirds are at my house! All this is fascinating to me. Think how far birds travel during their life times. Much farther than many of us do over the course of our life times. This graphic from Cornell Labs totally mesmerized me. Be sure to watch the animated migration.
Watch the animated version to see how far birds actually travel

Watch the animated version to see how far birds actually travel

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.  

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.

Stars! Stars! Get Close to Famous Stars!

John Goar

John Goar with two of his telescopes

If you’re around the Olympic Peninsula and can get to Hurricane Ridge for the telescope viewing and full moon hikes, don’t miss it! This is an advantage of high elevation (5,242') with little ambient light. 2014 is the fifth consecutive summer of public telescope viewing at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. You may get to see Saturn and her moons, globular cluster M13, planetary nebula M57 (a.k.a. The Ring Nebula and galaxy M31 (a.k.a. The Andromeda Galaxy). Did you think Andromeda was only in science fiction? Plus, you can take your imagination other mysterious, far-away places through the scope eyepiece.
  • July 22 and 23 - 10:45pm
  • July 24 – July 30 beginning at 10:30pm
  • Aug. 14 - Aug. 20 beginning at 9:45pm
  • Aug. 21 - Aug. 29 beginning at 9:30pm
John Goar, your host through space, is the Astro-VIP at Olympic National Park -- a volunteer who leads free public telescope viewing. John is a member of the Olympic Astronomical Society, an astronomy club that meets monthly in Bremerton, Washington.  John is also a certified Master Observer by the Astronomical League. In the offseason, John teaches math and science at Kingston Middle School in Kingston, Washington. The Olympic Astronomical Society will have their 17th Annual OAS Hurricane Ridge Star Party on July 26th and on August 23rd, weather permitting.  Most OAS members will be happy to have the public look through their telescopes! Full Moon Hike to Hurricane Hill
  • Saturday August 9, Sunday August 10 - DEPART 8:30pm
A three-mile, round-trip hike.  Meet at Hurricane Hill Trailhead. It is a 1.5 miles drive beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Please wear sturdy shoes.  A constellation tour will occur at the top of Hurricane Hill. Both the Telescope Program and the Full Moon Hikes will cancel if there is cloud cover. For cancellation due to clouds, visitors can call the Hurricane Ridge Road Hotline on the day of the program after 3 pm.  (360) 565-3131.

Town Spotlight: Port Hadlock

Port Hadlock

Port Hadlock 1903

The Port Hadlock, Irondale area is steeped in a strong industrial, maritime heritage. Samuel Hadlock, the founder of Port Hadlock, moved west in the 1850s, landing in the area that would become Port Hadlock in1870. He built a large lumber mill on a spit of and off the Bay, with deep enough waters for tall ships to moor and load nearby. The lumber from the thriving mill was shipped mainly to San Francisco. The next industry to the area was what would became the first iron producing blast furnace in what is now Washington State. When this iron mill was completed the new boom town near Port Hadlock, Irondale, was born in 1881. The initial hope was for Irondale to become a major iron and steel producer for the western United States. About 1200 tons of pig iron was produced during its first year of operation, with ore obtained from the nearby Chimacum valley, This dream was not to be, the iron mill was closed during the depression and bank panic of 1889, and, with the lumber mill fire the Hadlock, and, Irondale residents were looking for new hope. Continue reading

Olympic Discovery Trail

Olympic Discovery TrailThe Olympic Discovery Trail connects North Olympic Peninsula towns on the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Pacific Coast. This unique way to explore the Olympic Peninsula includes more than 130 miles of paved trails which wind through towns, forests, river valleys, mountains, and coastlines. The Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) is open to travelers, and their pets, using non-motorized modes of transportation. This includes hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. ODT can be done as a whole or broken into smaller sections for shorter day trips. The four main sections are:
  • East End the Sound and Bay Section which includes Port Townsend, Discovery Bay, Sequim Bay, and Miller Peninsula
  • East Central the River and Prairie Section with Blyn, Sequim, Dungeness Prairie Cross, and Port Angeles Harbor
  • West Central the Foothills and Lake Section which includes Port Angeles, Elwha River, Lake Crescent, and Joyce
  • West End the Forest and Ocean Section with Sol Duc Valley, Forks, and Pacific Beaches Continue reading

Paddling Around The Peninsula- Popular Paddlesports

paddlesports lake crescentThe Olympic Peninsula is home to a variety of waterways including wild rivers, protected bays, and serene lakes, together providing many paddlesport adventure possibilities. 
 
Visitors can kayak the Elwha River in the midst of an historic dam removal project. The first of two dams has already been removed, a year ahead of schedule. Nature Bridge’s Amazing Elwha River Story Adventure gives families two opportunities to experience the Elwha, learning about its history and ecology while rafting and doing science experiments.
 
Sea kayakers can watch for grey whales at Neah Bay, join the seals at Dungeness Spit, or look for otters in Freshwater Bay. The guides at Port Angeles-based outfitter, Adventures Through Kayaking are happy to share their knowledge of the area and point out wildlife along the way. Continue reading