Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula is home to Olympic National Park and one of the largest temperate rainforests in the US, home to some gigantic and awe-inspiring trees. There are also sandy beaches with tidal pools and massive rock formations called “sea stacks.” And if you’re lucky, you might spot some marine wildlife such as sea otters of whales.
1. Port Angeles
Our first stop was Port Angeles for a sea kayak tour with Adventures Through Kayaking. We took the 9AM tour of Freshwater Bay. While we didn’t get to see any whales, we did spy a few otters, and we got to explore the rugged seacoast.
Pro-Tip: Tides and wind can make this a strenuous workout for your upper body!
2. Hurricane Ridge
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center is about a 30-minute drive from Port Angeles. Here you can take some hikes up into the mountains for some beautiful views of the park, including snow-capped Mount Olympus, colorful wildflowers, and maybe even some deer.
3. Sol Duc Falls
It’s a bit of a drive up into the park, but then the hike itself is fairly short. You’ll walk along a fairly easy trail through the moss-covered forest to a wooden bridge over the river. You can get some great shots of the falls if the light is right.
4. Hoh Rain Forest
The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is a great starting point for several short, easy, but breathtaking hikes. The trees in this area are MASSIVE.
In particular, the Hall of Mosses trail (1 mile) and Spruce Nature Trail (1.25 miles) are a great chance to enjoy these ancient giants. Keep an eye out for “nurse logs,” which are fallen trees out of which new trees sprout and grow.
Pro-Tip: It’s a rain forest for a reason: it rains a LOT here. However, July and August are usually pretty dry, so these are popular times to visit.
If you or any member of your family are fans of the Twilight series of movies and books, you simply can’t drive through the town of Forks without taking some pics!
6. Ruby Beach
Again, if you’re familiar with Twilight, you probably know about the rugged beachs of the Peninsula, such as La Push. Ruby Beach is similar. Situated near the mouth of the Hoh River, the beach is littered with driftwood logs. Nearby stands a large sea stack. When the tide is out, you can get some nice closeup shots of starfish and sea anemones in the pools that are left behind.
Pro-Tip: If it fits into your schedule and budget, the nearby Kalaloch Lodge is a great place to stay the night. You can watch the sun set over the beach, and enjoy a fantastic dinner.
Here’s a rundown of our itinerary, the driving distances, and the places we stayed.
Day 1 - Port Angeles
- Sea Kayaking tour
- Hiked Hurricane Ridge
- Spent night at Olympic Lodge
Day 2 - Sol Duc, Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach
- Sol Duc Falls, 45 miles from Port Angeles, about 1 hour drive
- Drive through Forks on the way to Hoh Rain Forest (about half-way)
- Hoh Rain Forest, 75 miles from Sol Duc, about 2-1/2 hour drive
- Ruby Beach, 30 miles from Hoh Rain Forest, about 45 minutes
- Spent night at Kalaloch Lodge