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Olympic Peninsula - Your Gateway to Adventure

By Tarana Rana, 25 Jul, 2016
  • Olympic Peninsula - Your Gateway to Adventure

Home to the Olympic National Park, endless hiking trails, sandy beaches, temperate rainforests, a trail of waterfalls, and more, Washington States’ Olympic Peninsula is a summer mecca
for outdoor and nature enthusiasts.

Waves crashing on fine sand beaches, craggy, ancient trees sheltering wildlife, snowcapped mountains in the distance – the Olympic Peninsula is as entrancing as it is wild. Situated on the northwest corner of Washington State, it is truly a diverse blend of climates and natural wonders!

With crystal-clear lakes, three pristine rainforests, over 24 waterfalls, not to mention the coastal beaches, mountains, hot springs and more, the Olympic Peninsula is a slice of nature at its finest. Besides its outdoor gems, it is also dotted by a handful of small cities that boast unique cultural and community experiences.

Whether you visit for a day or a week, there’s no shortage of things to do. Here are some quintessential sights you should check when visiting this natural treasure:

 

EXPLORE OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Declared a national monument, the Olympic National Park is definitely one of the area’s prime attractions. This 1406-sq park offers endless opportunities for adventure. Check out Hurricane Ridge, one of the most accessible mountain areas in the region. Named after its frequent winter storms, it has a number of hiking trails with panoramic views that’ll make you catch your breath.

The Hoh Rainforest is another must-see, as one of the only protected temperate rainforest in the Northern hemisphere. Both of these areas have convenient places to stay, either at their lodges or camping grounds.

 

Coastal Beaches

You are never more than a stone’s throw away from a gorgeous, pristine beach in the Olympic National Park. Dotted with driftwood, there’s a lot to explore here, from tide pools filled with fascinating sea creatures to eye-catching arches and sea stacks. Some popular beaches include Ruby Beach, named for its sometimes ruby-coloured sand and the Kalaloch area, with its handful of beach trails. If it is tide pools you are after, check out Beach Trail 4, a dramatic pebble beach, which is also a popular place to smelt.

La Push & Forks
 
The Quileute Indian Village, La Push, also has some spectacular beaches. First Beach is a hot spot for surfing, whale watching and kayaking. Second Beach, accessible by a relatively easy trail, is haven for wildlife photographers and an ideal sandy spot for a lazy afternoon.
 
Nearby lies the small town of Forks, made famous by Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. This small, rural town is a perfect pitstop with its homey shops and restaurants. You could also make it home base for the duration of your trip, by staying at one of its cozy B&Bs. (If you have any twilight fans in the family, they’ll be happy to know that you can actually stay at the ‘Cullen’s House) If you have some time to spare, be sure to visit the Timber Museum, for its interesting exhibits of pioneer and regional history.

 

 

Lake Crescent & Sol Duc Valley

The picture-perfect Lake Crescent is another popular Olympic Peninsula destination. This glacier-carved lake is perfect for swimming, boating and trout fishing. You could choose to stay here at the Lake Crescent Lodge, one of the park’s oldest resorts. A network of hiking trails that lead to stunning waterfalls also surrounds Lake Crescent.

Speaking of waterfalls, if you only plan to visit one, make sure it is the mesmerizing Sol Duc Falls, which is renowned as one of the largest and most beautiful waterfalls of the area. Sol Duc River is another must-see, with its streams of salmon. This area also offers lodging. For a more relaxing stay, check out the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, with its convenient access to hot mineral pools.

 

TAKE A CITY BREAK

When you’ve soaked in as much natural wonder as possible, why not take a city break? Here are two small neighboring cities to explore.

Port Angeles
 
Steeped in history, this small city has quite a lot to offer. Spend a leisurely afternoon browsing for antiques at the Port Angeles Antique Mall downtown. Finish up by having a glass of Washington State wine or two at Harbinger Winery. If you have the time, make the 15-minute drive from Port Angeles to the picturesque Washington Lavender Farm where you can feast your senses on fields of heavenly-smelling lavender. 

 

Port Townsend
 
Situated on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula and only an hour’s drive away from Port Angeles, this small maritime town is another must-see in this region. With its authentic Victorian-era buildings and booming art scene, Port Townsend is a history-lover’s dream.  Walk around to get a feel of the place and be sure to keep an eye out for breathtaking buildings like the Jefferson County Courthouse! You can further explore its rich maritime history at the Jefferson Museum of Art and History and take a walking tour of the area. When you’ve worked up an appetite, a bite at one of the local, quaint restaurants like the Fountain Café is a great way to wind down after all that adventuring! 
 

Photos by Istock. Washington Tourism, Olympicpeninsulablog.com

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