The Olympic Peninsula

Olympic   016Olympic   005Arriving in Forks, Washington, a small logging town which also happens to be the setting for the Twilight books and movies, we immediately witnessed the town’s earnest efforts to capitalize on the Twilight craze.Olympic   008

Olympic   009It was a surreal experience. Vampires and werewolves unseen in the background. Brilliant rivers and lakes, verdant meadows, towering trees, rugged peaks, and a wild coastline.  And then there were the various forests: lowland, montane and subalpine.

We had arrived at the Olympic Peninsula.Olympic-Peninsula-map

Olympic   002Our route from La Conner included a ferry, Island Girl’s first ferry this summer, but definitely not her last. The ferry shortened our route by at least half and the total cost was less than the cost of gas for driving the long way around the south end of Puget Sound.Olympic   003The ferry departed from Coupeville on Whidbey Island and arrived in Port Townsend, a lovely town known for its many Victorian buildings.

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Olympic   007This is logging country and there was lots of evidence of it – huge logging trucks, the Timber Museum in Forks and signs designating years for logging of specific plots of forest.

Trees grow about 50 years before harvest.  Interesting.Olympic   006

Olympic   010Olympic National Park protects 922,651 acres in the Olympic Peninsula  and a diversity of wildlife. Home to eight American Indian tribes, the park is also a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.Olympic   011Olympic   014Olympic   012

Olympic   019Olympic   015Our first stop was in the Hoh Rainforest for a short hike.  It was strange to be in a rainforest on a clear, sunny day, but this was the dry season.  Still, it was a lush forest with giant spruce and hemlock trees, and alders and maples covered in moss.  Olympic   018Olympic   013

Olympic   023Olympic   020Olympic   028Olympic   024Olympic   017Lichen and mushroom are abundant in the forest and the Hoh River, with light blue green glacial water, runs through it.  On balance though, I think I prefer the rainforest on a rainy day.Olympic   027Olympic   022

Olympic   025Olympic   026Olympic   029Angel came along on a tour of the Quinault Rainforest, which allows doggies on its trails on the south side, the national forest side. Unlike the Hoh Rainforest which is entirely in the national park.Olympic   032Olympic   035

Olympic   036Olympic   038Our tour was a loop around Lake Quinault and a section of the Quinault River, where we had a picnic lunch. Then we hiked around a couple of waterfalls on the south side of the loop:  the 60′ Bunch Creek Falls and the 40′ high Merriman Falls. A very peaceful and seemingly less traveled part of the park.Olympic   034Olympic   039Olympic   031Olympic   033

 

Olympic   001Olympic   041And we just had to visit the mountains. Hurricane Ridge, at 5,200 feet, offers a panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains, the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island.Olympic   043

A nineteen-mile road climbs 5,000 feet from the town of Port Angeles to a visitor center, picnic areas and trails. Angel was with us so we  were confined to developed areas.

Wildflowers framed the road and black-tailed deer were everywhere.

Particularly fun were two adorable fawns frolicking with each other (and their dad?) in a meadow.  With mom camouflaged in the grass.

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Olympic   048Olympic   059We found a quiet picnic area away from the visitor center and the crowds, where black tailed deer walked among the picnic tables, seemingly unafraid of humans (which I guess is ok in a protected area). Angel first met deer in Colorado, but they always get her attention.Olympic   057

Olympic   042Olympic   053Olympic   054Olympic   060Olympic   058Olympic   056Olympic   062After basking in the beautiful views and enjoying watching a sleeping deer on top of Hurricane Ridge, we continued on a narrow gravel road with sections of shelf road that climbed another 1,000 feet.   Where there were even more wildflowers and some cute marmots. We love marmots!Olympic   061Olympic   064Olympic   065

The inland section of Olympic National Park is beautiful but some of the best was yet to come: the coast.

~ BrendaOlympic   052

14 thoughts on “The Olympic Peninsula

  1. Wow!!! (Do I start all of my posts with “wow”?) Overwhelmingly gorgeous!!! And you know me, I love nature and getting to see the beautiful trees, wildflowers, animals, landscapes, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, and seas. Never-ending gratitude for sharing your adventures, you two! Sending a big hug and a smile…

    • Not all of them :), but we like it. So glad you’re still enjoying the blog.
      Big hug back at ya,
      Brenda

  2. Loved tripping around the Olympic Peninsula with you! Your photos are as gorgeous as ever. I thought that was a bear in the photo! But it was Angel!

    • Thanks. Angel rump does look like a bear! And her face looks like a wolf sometimes. She’s our wild girl.
      Brenda

  3. It’s been 20 years since I was last there. Your photos make me want to return. Thanks for taking us along your journey. Looking forward to your posts from the coast! Maureen

  4. I just started following your blog and love it! My husband and I just bought a 27 ft motor home and will be going to the Olympic Penninsula in August. Can you tell me if it possible to drive a motor home up Hurricane Ridge? Thanks!

    Joyce

    • Thank you and welcome to our blog! Hurricane Ridge is curvy and pretty steep but a good road. It’s possible to drive an RV but I’d say it also depends on your level of experience/comfort driving those types of roads in a RV. In our case, Hector would definitely drive it but I wouldn’t. Also there can be extremely high winds at times (thus the name) here’s the webpage for updates http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/hurricane-ridge-current-conditions.htm. The weather in general on the peninsula was variable when we were there, foggy and cold on the coast (at times) and warmer and clearer inland, so be prepared for all types. But truly a beautiful place to visit.
      Happy Trails,
      Brenda

    • I think Nina and Paul had the right idea, staying in a couple of different towns to access different areas of the park. It’s an enormous park.
      Brenda

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