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  1. Default Olympic National Park, the Olympic Peninsula & San Juan Islands

    I've been missing in action and I'm sorry for that. It's been 40 years since we visited Olympic National Park so it's high time we planned another trip to the park! Forty years ago we didn't have a lot of vacation time so we only had two days in the park but I remember how beautiful it was!

    DH & I are retired now so we have a lot of time we can spend in Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula. This will be part of an almost 2 month trip. We have a motorhome and we tow a Jeep Liberty & we're not afraid to take the Jeep off the pavement.

    I was thinking about spending two to three weeks in late August - September to really do the area justice. I was wondering if 3 weeks is to long? We like to schedule in bad weather days. I was thinking of splitting our time in three locations. Kalalock Campground, Sol Duc Campground and Salt Creek Campground in Salt Creek Recreation Area. Any areas you think might be better for camping? Any favorite campsites at these locations? Any advise on how to break down the time in each area? I know I need to start booking the campgrounds ASAP.

    We're in our 60's, we like hiking and can do 5 - 6 miles of easy to moderate hikes. We like waterfalls, lighthouses, wildlife, wildflowers, geology, ocean, tide pools, great views & scenic drives. Please let us know you're favorite hikes and scenic drives in and near the park.

    We might even take the ferry over to Victoria Canada. I'd also like to do a Orca whale watching tour if it's not to late in the year to see Orca's. I've never seen an Orca. We will be in Seattle in June for a cruise so we don't need time in Seattle. We're also considering going north of Seattle for several more days to visit the San Juan Islands. Any recommendations on what to see and do and how long to plan for this area.

    Should we avoid the Labor Day weekend? If we did get camping over that weekend, what areas would you advise we avoid? What's the crowds like in September?

    Thank you in advance for any help.

    Utahtea

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,969

    Default A beautiful place.

    Hi, good to see you hear !

    It's a wonderful NP but I am not sure if 3 weeks would be too much or not, I guess it's balancing it with the rest of your trip so it all works as one. I believe there is a campground on the Hurricane ridge road where you could spend a night or two but you would need to check it takes RV's. I think it does but with no hook ups, and you really do need to visit Hurricane Ridge ! (Heart of the Hills campground ??) Sol Duc is in a nice setting but the RV park is more like an overflow car park of the Hot Springs resort and you would have to drive up and down the road to see other areas of the park, so I personally wouldn't book to long in that location. Try and book site that backs on the river side of the site. There is a lovely woodland walk to Sol Duc Falls just up the road. From Kalaloch I'm pretty sure you will be visiting Hoh rain forest and Quinault area but make sure you check out Ruby beach just north of there where the 101 meets the coast. If you are heading south from there and need an overnight stop you could check out Cape Disappointment SP where the Columbia River spills into the Atlantic.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,754

    Default

    Welcome back! We visited much of what Dave just described, this past summer. We were dreadfully disappointed at the smoke from fires up in Canada that was blowing down into the Peninsula -- it blotted everything, including the view of the mountains from Hurricane Ridge.

    We parked at Sol Duc temporarily to buy a souvenir T-shirt, eat our picnic lunch, and would agree with Dave that it was pretty much an overflow parking lot from the Hot Springs Resort. But the trip down to Sol Duc Falls was very worthwhile. We were in our late 50s and handled the walk just fine, nothing strenuous.

    Another lovely area is the Staircase region. That said, however, getting there (where there's a campground) means a trip over a somewhat rough gravel road. We split a tire on it, not knowing it until after we settled up in Sequim that evening. So beware.

    The drive north on US-101 from Hoodsport, along the Hood Canal, is beautiful. We enjoyed it a lot, as the Canal was such a beautiful turquoise!


    Donna

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Hi, good to see you hear !

    It's a wonderful NP but I am not sure if 3 weeks would be too much or not, I guess it's balancing it with the rest of your trip so it all works as one. I believe there is a campground on the Hurricane ridge road where you could spend a night or two but you would need to check it takes RV's. I think it does but with no hook ups, and you really do need to visit Hurricane Ridge ! (Heart of the Hills campground ??) Sol Duc is in a nice setting but the RV park is more like an overflow car park of the Hot Springs resort and you would have to drive up and down the road to see other areas of the park, so I personally wouldn't book to long in that location. Try and book site that backs on the river side of the site. There is a lovely woodland walk to Sol Duc Falls just up the road. From Kalaloch I'm pretty sure you will be visiting Hoh rain forest and Quinault area but make sure you check out Ruby beach just north of there where the 101 meets the coast. If you are heading south from there and need an overnight stop you could check out Cape Disappointment SP where the Columbia River spills into the Atlantic.
    Southwest Dave,

    Nice to see a familiar face.

    Hummm....I'm rethinking staying at Sol Duck and maybe spend several days at Kalaloch and the rest at Salt Creek. Our friends did Salt Creek last year and really loved it. They only spent a week and wish they had spent two weeks. Considering DH and I can spend two weeks camping in Capitol Reef National Park almost every year....we don't bore easily....LOL ;)

    We will be coming up from Oregon and then heading to Idaho. I'll look into Cape Disappointment for the way up.

    Utahtea

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Welcome back! We visited much of what Dave just described, this past summer. We were dreadfully disappointed at the smoke from fires up in Canada that was blowing down into the Peninsula -- it blotted everything, including the view of the mountains from Hurricane Ridge.

    We parked at Sol Duc temporarily to buy a souvenir T-shirt, eat our picnic lunch, and would agree with Dave that it was pretty much an overflow parking lot from the Hot Springs Resort. But the trip down to Sol Duc Falls was very worthwhile. We were in our late 50s and handled the walk just fine, nothing strenuous.

    Another lovely area is the Staircase region. That said, however, getting there (where there's a campground) means a trip over a somewhat rough gravel road. We split a tire on it, not knowing it until after we settled up in Sequim that evening. So beware.

    The drive north on US-101 from Hoodsport, along the Hood Canal, is beautiful. We enjoyed it a lot, as the Canal was such a beautiful turquoise!


    Donna
    Hi Donna! Another familiar face. I had forgot about all the fires. Hopefully it won't be bad this fall.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Staircase region. We split a tire doing a gravel road outside of Telluride....not fun!

    Thanks for the Hoodsport & Hood Canal idea. We'll be driving down that way when we leave the area.

    Utahtea

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,969

    Default A good overnight.

    Hummm....I'm rethinking staying at Sol Duck
    I would say it's worth spending a night just to walk to the Falls and see this little area, just not a good spot to spend a lot of time to visit other areas. There are campgrounds nearer the 101 where you could stopover and then take the Jeep down there, but I think they are all First come First served so a little risky.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,754

    Default

    Cape Disappointment and Fort Clatsop were easily among the highlights of our summer trip. There's a wonderful Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center out at Cape Disappointment. This particular Interpretive Center focuses on activities of the Corps of Discovery on the coast, so it's not a case of "you've seen one center, you've seen them all." Right next to the Center, almost attached to it, is another old Fort, but from far more recent years than the early 1800s! Worth a walk through. Please note that the walk from the parking lot for the Cape is up a hill, but it's short. You also have to pay two fees. One is to Cape Disappointment State Park, then a separate fee for the Center, but neither were unreasonable.

    Fort Clatsop is separate from Cape Disappointment and involves a re-created Fort which reminded us of Fort Mandan (ND), but was different. You can also hike out to the boat launch area that they believe the Corps used.

    As for Olympic, because of the fires, we enjoyed the Staircase region, but we also enjoyed Ruby Beach a lot. I think we were on that beach for an hour or so before moving on to Kalaloch, where we spent another half hour or hour. We were going counter-clockwise on US-101, so that the beaches (when we got there) would be on our right hand side.

    Are you a fan of the book/movie series Twilight? If so, check out Forks. While the movies were not filmed there, you can check out several places that the author used in her series. (I never liked the movies, but read all three books and enjoyed them. My daughter was more the fan, so we sent her photos of the places we could check out, but did not go out to LaPush.)

    Donna

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