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Olympic Penninsula travel plan
Old 07-21-2015, 12:40 AM   #1
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Olympic Penninsula travel plan

I think I have a plan for our trip to the Olympic peninsula, but need some validation. Other ideas are welcome too since I haven't made any reservations yet.

Trip is in early Sept, landing in Seatac in the morning.

1st day
Drive from Seatac to Port Angeles. Along the way, stop at Port Townsend, the Dungeness Spit.

2nd Day:
Hurricane ridge, Crescent Lake & Hoh Rainforest. Hike a bit in the rain forest. Is this too much for one day or can we do Hurricane ridge on the first day?
Stay at La Push

3rd Day:
See La Push beach, Rialto Beach,
Drive to & Stay in Quinault

4th Day
Hike around Quinault
Stay in Quinault

5th Day
Drive to Olympia & see stuff along the way

6th Day
Stay & sight see in Olympia

We live in Denver, so we get to hike high mountains all the time. I'm looking forward to seeing the rain-forests.

(DW had a quizzical look when I told her I was looking for travel feedback in the ER forum
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:04 AM   #2
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I assume you're taking one of the ferry routes across the sound. If not, I'd do it just for the experience. It's been decades since I've done the route, but I think you're doing too much on your 2nd day. Everything else sounds reasonable, but hopefully someone who has done the route more recently will chime in.


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Old 07-21-2015, 04:13 AM   #3
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Yes, that's too much for day two. You can do hurricane ridge and lake crescent one day, fist stopping at the park office which has some neat short hiking nearby. But then it's a longer drive to the Hoh rainforest, and you want to stop at the beach on the way - Rialto beach near Mora. We also enjoyed the drive up to Sol Duc Hot springs with hikes on the way and past it. You might even get to see salmon jumping the cascades. This is near Lake Crescent. Make it two days.

We never actually got past the Hoh rainforest both trips because there is already so much to do and see between Port Townsend and there. We were based in Sequim or Port Angeles both times. You can also take a Port Angeles ferry to Victoria BC for the day as a walk on passenger, and it's well worth it, passport required. Very scenic crossing and awesome city to visit.
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Old 07-21-2015, 07:20 AM   #4
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You can also take a Port Angeles ferry to Victoria BC for the day as a walk on passenger, and it's well worth it, passport required. Very scenic crossing and awesome city to visit.
Quite true. Loved the BC Museum. Then if it was me, I'd go to Vancouver Is. for 2-3 days & go up to Butchart Gardens also vs. so many days around Olympic.
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Old 07-21-2015, 07:57 AM   #5
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See if you can squeeze Poulsbo into your schedule. Neat, Nordic themed town with a lot of European style restaurants. Good for a 15-20 minute walk downtown and a hearty lunch of sausages. I don't think it's too far off your route, either.
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Old 07-21-2015, 08:12 AM   #6
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You can also take a Port Angeles ferry to Victoria BC for the day as a walk on passenger, and it's well worth it, passport required. Very scenic crossing and awesome city to visit.
Well, we're planning a trip to the Northwest in September as well.

This (a day trip to Victoria from Port Angeles by ferry) is also on our itinerary. Any specific pointers - i.e. what's the best way to enjoy a quick visit to Victoria?
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Old 07-21-2015, 08:21 AM   #7
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First day go from Seattle to Port Townsend but spend the night in PT. It's the prettiest little town on the Peninsula and very walkable.
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:03 AM   #8
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I'm going to take a risk of offending some capital city brethren here, but Olympia is one of the least interesting cities in western Washington. I would spend more time on the day 2 destinations, each of which could be a day. Also in that area is the Elwah River grand experiment, where 2 power dams were removed and the fish are returning.
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:30 AM   #9
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Some points to consider:

* The Dungeness Spit is 5.5-mile long, and personal cars are not allowed. If the lighthouse is what you like to see, this becomes an almost day-long excursion.

* Poulsbo, as a previous poster mentioned, is a good spot to stop for lunch and is not out of the way.

* We also like Bainbridge downtown near the ferry dock as a good spot for lunch. If you drive from Tacoma instead of taking the ferry from Seattle, then it is a bit out of the way, unlike Poulsbo.

* We have been up Hurricane Ridge twice. The 2nd time, it was so foggy I could hardly drive up that road. Could not see anything, so that was a short stop.

* Hoh Rain Forest has two trail loops totaling 2 miles. They are very walkable and allow one to see plenty.

* If pressed for time, instead of Rialto Beach that is a bit off the highway, you can substitute Kalaloch Beach, which is right on the highway. Close to the NP campground is a lodge for people who do not camp.
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by walkinwood View Post
I think I have a plan for our trip to the Olympic peninsula, but need some validation. Other ideas are welcome too since I haven't made any reservations yet.

Trip is in early Sept, landing in Seatac in the morning.

1st day
Drive from Seatac to Port Angeles. Along the way, stop at Port Townsend, the Dungeness Spit.

2nd Day:
Hurricane ridge, Crescent Lake & Hoh Rainforest. Hike a bit in the rain forest. Is this too much for one day or can we do Hurricane ridge on the first day?
Stay at La Push

3rd Day:
See La Push beach, Rialto Beach,
Drive to & Stay in Quinault

4th Day
Hike around Quinault
Stay in Quinault

5th Day
Drive to Olympia & see stuff along the way

6th Day
Stay & sight see in Olympia

We live in Denver, so we get to hike high mountains all the time. I'm looking forward to seeing the rain-forests.

(DW had a quizzical look when I told her I was looking for travel feedback in the ER forum
If you can squeeze in Deception Pass it's a must see! Cheers!

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Old 07-21-2015, 11:08 AM   #11
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Well, we're planning a trip to the Northwest in September as well.

This (a day trip to Victoria from Port Angeles by ferry) is also on our itinerary. Any specific pointers - i.e. what's the best way to enjoy a quick visit to Victoria?
There is plenty to do within walking distance of the dock which lets you off right in the heart of historic downtown Victoria. The Museum is right there - big totem poles outside. It's worth strolling through the historic Fairmont Hotel, even if you don't indulge in a $$$ meal there. There is a lot of shopping right there - we enjoyed visiting the Murchie's Tea store, but there were numerous nice shops on the same strip. Great topiary to view - orcas!!!

The ferry does provide some combo trips - like quick trips to Butchart Gardens, but IMO that would be better with spending the night so you have time to enjoy the gardens and it not just be a rush. The gardens are a bit of a drive away from Victoria, and worth several hours plus tea or lunch at the restaurant. The "high tea" at Butchart Gardens is very nice and way cheaper than the famous one at the Fairmont.

I recommend catching the earliest ferry over, since you'll have most of the day, then you can catch the mid or late afternoon one back. It's also quite practical to walk-on with your luggage to spend a night or two in Victoria - plenty of hotels close to the dock.
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Old 07-21-2015, 11:17 AM   #12
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I'm going to take a risk of offending some capital city brethren here, but Olympia is one of the least interesting cities in western Washington. I would spend more time on the day 2 destinations, each of which could be a day. Also in that area is the Elwah River grand experiment, where 2 power dams were removed and the fish are returning.
We always drove through Olympia without stopping, LOL! This is is when we were coming up from the south, not from Seattle. I liked the Ferry to Kingston from Edmonds but we happened to be up there anyway - otherwise the Bainbridge Island ferry from downtown Seattle is quick.
Washington State Ferry Routes: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/pdf/wsfroutemap.pdf

We enjoyed the Dungeness Spit near Sequim. It's a neat walk just part way out on the spit. Lots of nature areas around that town.
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Old 07-21-2015, 11:34 AM   #13
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Deception Pass is not to be missed if you are in the area but it is way out of the way for a trip to the Olympic Peninsula.

We lived on Bainbridge Island for many years, our favorite lunch spot was Doc's - not far from the ferry. In Poulsbo we liked Sluy's Bakery.

If you don't plan on stopping at either Bainbridge or Poulsbo then consider taking the Bremerton Ferry. You will see more maritime activity and the islands. The fare is the same for both rides, two boats operate on each route but because the Bremerton ferry is a longer voyage departures are less frequent. When you buy a ticket in Seattle you need to tell the ticket seller which boat you want.. if you just ask which you can board soonest they should be able to point you to the right boat. Both ferries have light food service - you can buy a cup of Ivar's chowder on board. Once you have parked your car go immediately to the upper level deck to enjoy the view.

I agree that there is little to see in Olympia from a tourist standpoint. Spend that day as a walk-on the M. V. Coho from Port Angeles to Victoria. Victoria is very walkable but if a hop-on/hop-off tour bus is operating that may be the best way to catch the sights. Don't miss Royal BC Museum and for a break catch high tea at the Emperess Hotel Victoria Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont Empress Resort Victoria, British Columbia
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:22 PM   #14
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Take your car to the top of blue mountain - you won't regret it. I think you just take deer park rd and keep going.


That's way too much for day 2.


It will take you about 4 hours to get from SeaTac to PA, we usually stop in sliverdale for Chinese.


Gig Harbor is a nice spot too.
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:25 PM   #15
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You need to spend a day in Victoria.
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:37 PM   #16
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Thank you, thank you.

I should have laid out the whole trip instead of just focusing on the Olympic peninsula.

Our trip will include a 1 or 2 days on San Juan Island. We don't kayak, so we'll probably bicycle/hike about the island and take a boat out to see the whales.

I need to do research on the rest of the trip, but at a high level....

Next up is Vancouver probably with day in Bellingham (anyone recommending skipping this?). We'll drive up via the Chuckanut Drive.

We'll then make our way over the cascades to Spokane before heading back to Seatac to fly home. On that last leg, we'd like to spend a day wine tasting. Recommendations?

I am now thinking that it may be better to do the Olympic Peninsula trip in a clockwise direction starting with one night in Olympia, 2 in Quinault, 1 in La Push, 2 or 3 in Port Angeles and then take the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidby Island & see Deception Pass on the way to Anacortes.

Does it make more sense to see Victoria from Port Angeles or from Vancouver. On the map, it looks much closer to Port Angeles.
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:44 PM   #17
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The Vancouver-Victoria ferry docks quite a distance from Victoria proper. You would need your car. If you left from Port Angeles you could park your car on the US side and walk on the Coho. IMHO Port Angeles is the better port.
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:52 PM   #18
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I am now thinking that it may be better to do the Olympic Peninsula trip in a clockwise direction starting with one night in Olympia, 2 in Quinault, 1 in La Push, 2 or 3 in Port Angeles and then take the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidby Island & see Deception Pass on the way to Anacortes.

Does it make more sense to see Victoria from Port Angeles or from Vancouver. On the map, it looks much closer to Port Angeles.


We've done clockwise before - good idea.



Victoria is about 10 miles away from PA.

I have a rental house in PA (occupied) and 10 acres of property on the NE corner of finn hall and gunn road in agnew that I bought in 99.

Thinking about (eventually) using the rental for a second home. Love that area. Only problem is the rental is about 700 sq ft.

We were going to retire there until we moved to paradise...but it's only 600 miles away....
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Old 07-21-2015, 02:30 PM   #19
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Let me know how your trip goes, walkinwood, as DH is going out there in October.

The launch for his Icarus paramotor race is in Elmo, west of Olympia and I'm planning to get a car rental for him at Seatac (and for his two ground crew buddies) to drive to there. They'll have a couple of days of goofing off while he does his credentialing runs, so would love ideas for anything easy to get to from there.

Thanks! The race ends at Valley Springs, CA, somewhere kinda near Sacramento a couple of weeks later, and they won't really have any other sightseeing chances in between, owing to watching for him to hopefully not plummet to earth.
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Old 07-21-2015, 03:06 PM   #20
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Elma?

You can go up Wynoochee valley road to the lake, hang left on Forest rd 22 and go out to US101. Have lunch at historic and beautiful Quinault Lodge north on 101, then south on 101 to Aberdeen and hiway 8 back to Elma. A few gravel miles on 22, but I read that doesn't trouble you much. Not fantastically scenic, but Elma is kind of in a dead zone for scenery. Nearby in Mcleary is the bear festival, but I can't recall when that is.
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