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  1. #1
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    I want to see the Olympic peninsula while I'm in Washington. It looks to to be a more than one day trip, the road around it is over 300 miles alone and looks pretty remote in parts. I was thinking about sights such as Sol Duc hot springs, Hurricane ridge, Hoh rainforest and the Pacific coast.

    Does anyone have some advice on the best way to tackle it, i.e. motels, other sights, gas stations etc.

    Thanks for any help.

  2. Default Check back!

    In about a week or so, frequent poster Judy will be back -- she's an expert on the NW and will have some tips for you probably -- unless someone else wants to jump in and assist! Judy's off on a roadtrip right now. I'm not much of an expert on that area so I cannot help much. Bob

  3. #3
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    Thanks Bob.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Expert? :-)

    Thanks for the kind words, Bob! Well, I'm back and let's see what I can suggest.

    The Peninsula probably looks more remote on a map than it really is. For example, the most remote areas are on the west side. However, this area is dotted with little communities and/or service stations so you're really not all that terribly far from help. If you're concerned about breakdowns, I always suggest AAA-Plus. You should be within the 100 mile towing limit most anywhere on the Peninsula if problems do occur.

    To further assure you, the Hoquiam/Aberdeen area is concerned the "southern terminus" of the Peninsula on the coast side. From there, it's about 105 miles to Forks, WA, the next major town up the coastal side. But, in between, you have communities with services at Axford Prairie, Humptulips, Neilton, Lake Quinault, Queets, and Kalaloch. From this point, you have about 30 miles to Forks. This is about the longest stretch with virtually no services available.

    From Forks to Port Angeles is only 60 miles. But, in between you have services at various points along the way, particularly once you reach the Lake Crescent area. I don't recall the names of most of the communities up that way but there are scattered "settlements" with gas stations, etc.

    From Port Angeles, as you continue around the rest of the Peninsula, you are rarely more than about 10-15 miles from some community with services.

    Hope this appeases your concerns about the remote nature of things.

    Keep in mind, I'm only speaking about the main roads. Obviously, if you explore further off the main roads into the park or along some of the beach areas, you will be getting into more remote areas with more limited access to services.

    Sol Duc Hot Springs: Nice area with a small on-site resort. Nothing fancy but comfortable. It fills up fast so you will need reservations. Adjacent to the resort is a commercial campground but it's nothing to get excited about. I believe it only takes RVs and it's basically a parking lot. But a short 5-10 minute walk up the road it the Sol Duc Campground operated by the National Park Service. It's a beautiful campground with few amenities but then you can walk over to Sol Duc Resort and enjoy the hot springs and other amenities for a daily fee.

    Hurricane Ridge is only about a 10-15 minute drive from Port Angeles so you can easily stay in town and drive there for a day of exploration. Beautiful views are to be had into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island, as well as into the Olympics themselves, if you are lucky to have a day with clear skies. There are numerous trails to explore from short hikes that only take an hour or so, to longer more strenuous hikes.

    Hoh Rainforest: Beautiful area just south of Forks. The famous Trail of Mosses is in here (it's a very short trail - just under 1 mile). You can camp here or just explore for the day (there are some other trails as well and a visitor center) and spend the night in Forks.

    Pacific Coast: Hwy 101 is inland from where you turn south at Lake Crescent to the Kalaloch area so, if you want to see the coastline here, you will have to do some driving off Hwy 101. I would suggest the following:

    Makah Reservation: At the far, NW corner, is the Makah Reservation/Neah Bay. Here you can visit a fantastic little museum packed with treasures excavated in the Lake Ozette area. You can also take a short, scenic hike out to Cape Flattery (the farthest north and west point in the contiguous US). As the entire coastline along this northern road is a big fishing area, there are numerous hotels and campgrounds along this route.

    Lake Ozette: Where the artifacts (in the museum above) came from. About 40 miles from 101. Nice trails, a boardwalk, etc. Great trails to the ocean with probably the most remote beach areas in the US (except for Alaska). If you're adventurous, you can do some beach hiking/camping but get lots more info on this. You need to be aware of tides and trailheads or you could literally drown here if the tide comes in and you're stuck somewhere with no trailhead access. You need tide tables and a good guidebook for this. Also, be aware that bears are frequently seen on these remote beaches. A good guidebook is a must. But it's a fantastic experience and is worth at least a short day trip due to its rugged scenery. It's within the marine sanctuary area.

    LaPush/Quileute Indian Reservation: This is a nice 1/2 hour drive off the main highway near Forks, to the coast, and takes you out to another area of rugged beach beauty with many nice hikes or beach-walking but, unlike Ozette, there are more services here.

    Kalaloch: If you prefer staying on the main roads, this is another wonderful area. There is a lodge and campground area to stay in. And the beach is fantastic. About 10 minutes north of here is one of my favorite beaches - Ruby Beach - with great tidepools. Kalaloch Lodge is beautiful with a nice restaurant.

    Lake Quinault: A beautiful lake with the Olympic National Park on its north and east sides, Olympic National Forest to the south, and Quinault Indian Reservation to the west. There is a small community there with services, hotels, and campgrounds. There are numerous short hiking trails that are almost as good as the Hall of Mosses trail in the Hoh Rainforest area. The Lake Quinault Lodge is worth a visit just to see the architecture and decor; pretty good food, too.

    From here you can continue south into Aberdeen/Hoquiam and go back to Olympia and the I-5 Corridor, or you can veer west and visit the various beach communities. Moclips, Pacific Beach, Copalis Beach, and Ocean Shores all have hotels and campgrounds and the beach areas and "feel" of the communities are very different so each is worth a stop, IMHO.

    Aberdeen/Hoquiam offers some interesting museums, with emphasis on logging and ship-building that used to be immense enterprises there. Also the Lady Washington, a replica of on of Capt. Robert Gray's ships. The Lady was featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie (the boat the exploded at the end). It is normally painted in a bright palette of colors vs the black used in the movie and is an interest boat to visit. Sometimes sailings are offered.

    I'll go into less detail on the rest of the north and east areas of the Peninsula, but worthy places to stop are: Dungeness Spit Rec Area in Sequim, Port Townsend for its fantastic Victorian era architecture, Bremerton for its naval mothball fleet and nuclear sub base.

    Actually, there's tons more to see and do but I've typed enough for now. If you want further info on anything, let me know. I hope this helps!

    Good website about the northern part of the Peninsula: http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/index.html?source=northolympic.com

    Info on camping in Olympic National Park (and links to other info): http://www.nps.gov/olym/pphtml/camping.html

    Info about the Hoh Rainforest area with links to more about Forks: http://www.forks-web.com/fg/upperhoh.htm

  5. #5
    Guest

    Default Rainforest

    Thanks Judy, if you are not an expert, you certainly know a lot more about the area than I do.

    The idea of a temperate rain forest fascinates me. I live in a very rainy part of the world, the valleys of east Lancashire UK. It's so wet here that they built many cotton spinning mills in the 19th century because the dampness in the air kept the cotton thread moist and stopped it breaking. I think that the climate is similar, but many of the forests were cut down centuries ago, only sheep, sheep and more sheep now. It is still very beautiful though.

  6. #6
    Guest

    Default Rainforest

    Thanks Judy, if you are not an expert, you certainly know a lot more about the area than I do.

    The idea of a temperate rain forest fascinates me. I live in a very rainy part of the world, the valleys of east Lancashire UK. It's so wet here that they built many cotton spinning mills in the 19th century because the dampness in the air kept the cotton thread moist and stopped it breaking. I think that the climate is similar, but many of the forests were cut down centuries ago, only sheep, sheep and more sheep now. It is still very beautiful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default UK Weather

    With all the rain England is famous for, it is surprising that you don't have a rainforest there, or in Ireland at least. Maybe in the past?

    I think you'll love it. The mosses, ferns, nurse logs, etc. make you feel like you've gone back to a pre-historic time. If you think of more specific information you need, or want more info on a specific area, please let me know. I'll try to help.

    Also, I love to meet up with people coming this way. If you want, email me privately and maybe we can meet while you're here and I can play tour guide a bit?

    Just hope you have a great trip.

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