Olympic peninsula is guarded by Pacific ocean on the West,Hood Canal on the East. Strait of Juan de Fuca on the North and anchored by the impressive Olympic mountains.Home to Olympic National Park, there is only one word that comes in my mind to describe it – Diverse.
Diversity exists in all forms in such a compact geographical area mainly in scenery and weather.One can experience snow, rain and sun in different regions of the park in one day.One can be at the top of the mountains overlooking the glaciers and an hour later can sun bathe on beautiful beaches or can stroll around in rainy Rain forests.The area is pretty unpredictable so it is good idea to prepare for the worst weather.
Here are the few highlights from Olympic National Park/Olympic peninsula.
1) Port Townsend
There are many ways to reach Port Townsend but ferry ride from Seattle is my favorite one.Start your trip by enjoying the vastness of Puget Sound from ferry.Take the Edmonds-Kingston ferry to cross the Puget Sound.Port Townsend is an hour ride from Kingston ferry terminal.It is a small Victorian city which serves as a base camp for Olympic National Park.You can easily spend 3-4 hours exploring the city and its surroundings.Check out Chetzemoka park for beautiful flowers and beach access.Take a coastal drive from downtown to Fort Worden State Park overlooking Puget Sound and Juan de Fuca.
2) Hurricane Ridge
Continue your journey onwards to Hurricane Ridge which is inside the national park.This is my favorite place in the park.Hurricane Ridge visitor center is the best place in the park from where you can see the majestic Olympic mountains up close.I particularly like this area when there is snow around.The Hurricane Ridge is open for few months in summer and fall.The road up the visitor center operates between May-October.If the sky is clear you can even see Mt Baker and Victoria,Canada from top of the hill.
3) Port Angeles
I love this place because of its beautiful waterfront.It’s another big city in the Olympic peninsula and great place to break for lunch/dinner or lodging.Most of the tours and cruises operate from this area.You can also make this city as your base while travelling around the peninsula.
4) Lake Crescent
The lake is located on US Route 101 and is known for its brilliant blue and green waters and exceptional clarity.The area is home to many trails,most popular being Marymere falls.
5) Sol Duc Falls
This is probably not the most beautiful fall you will ever see but the soothing green color of the rain forest around it makes the visit worth it.Its an easy 1.6 mile hike.
6) La Push
The next stop for us was a beautiful beach in La Push – First Beach.Its a beautiful place where you can watch spectacular sunset to end your day and the only beach accessible by car in the region.La Push is famous for beach hiking and beach camping in Washington.There are many beautiful beaches which are accessible only by hiking like Rialto,Second and Third beach.
7) Forks & Hoh RainForest
Forks is another small city after Port Angeles, so if you need gas,lodging,food etc get it here.If you are a vampire fan, probably you know about this place.Yes, the Twilight Saga was based on this rainiest town from western Washington.Spend a night to get a feeling of this rustic city.
45 mins drive from Forks lies another gem in Olympic National Park – Hoh Rain Forest.The region gets an annual rainfall of 140 cm from the moisture laden winds from the Pacific ocean.There are 3 trails near visitor center which gives a great insight into the rain forest.”Hall of Mosses” is an absolute must do in the park.
8) Ruby Beach,Kalaloch Beach and Lake Quinault
Leave the National park and head towards apparently the most photographed beach in Olympic Peninsula – Ruby beach with soft sand,zig zag creeks,tide pools,drift logs and sea stacks.Continue on US 101 S along the seashore and end your Olympic peninsula drive on Lake Quinault before heading back to Seattle.
9) Other Attractions
Longest natural sand pit in US – Dungeness spit,lavender farms in Sequim,hike to Mt Walker,Antique museum in Port Gamble and Western most point in Washington – Neah Bay and Cape Flattery.
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