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Easy Day Trips from Seattle: Venturing into the Olympic Peninsula

March 18, 2014 at 12:22 PM | by | ()

Seattle, home of the Space Needle, Starbucks, and so much more, is worth a trip to the Pacific Northwest alone – but not exploring further what Washington State has to offer while you’re there would be a shame. This week, we'll look at a few options for a one-day or multi-day trip from the city.

Part 2: the Olympic Peninsula (see here for part 1)

No matter where you are in Seattle – walking down the street and catching a glimpse as you turn a corner, or getting the full panorama from high up at the Space Needle – the water of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula on the other side are never far from view.

Circled by the U.S. 101 before its journey south into Oregon and California, home to everything from beautiful beaches to temperate rainforests and both the westernmost (Cape Alava) and northwesternmost (Cape Flattery) points in the contiguous United States, taking the time to get up close and discover the peninsula further is something we’re sure you won’t regret.

We’ll divide a look at your options in three parts: heading into the Olympic Peninsula from the east up to Port Angeles, exploring the Olympic National Park and its rainforests, and coming through the other end to the Pacific beaches. That’s still just scratching the surface of course, so depending on how much time you have, there is always more to do and see.

There are a number of ways of getting across Puget Sound, but having checked out the Chihuly glass sculptures in Tacoma, we drove past Olympia to pick up the 101 as it climbs its way back up north. Soon you’ll leave any memory of city streets and traffic behind and find yourself surrounded by nothing but endless forests and, most likely, moody grey skies. This is one of the wettest places in all of the US, so bring rain gear and don’t expect blue skies and sunshine. As much as we love the sun, it didn’t bother us and felt very appropriate, in a J.R.R. Tolkien kind of way.

Just before the 101 starts heading west, you can take a brief side trip and follow the 19 to the historic town of Port Townsend, with its Victorian district that’s a national historic landmark. Past Sequim Bay, you’ll end up in Port Angeles on the northern coast, where if you were to swim straight out of the harbor and aim north you’d end up in Victoria on Vancouver Island (something we obviously don’t advise doing; besides, there’s a ferry).

About 20 miles west of Port Angeles, you’ll find Lake Crescent (above), the largest lake in the area and so deep (over 1000 feet) that its exact depth is unknown.

Lake Crescent Lodge is worth a look at for its picturesque setting, which it has occupied since 1915, and historical significance, hosting Franklin D. Roosevelt on his tour of the Olympic Peninsula that led to the creation of Olympic National Park in 1938. It offers a number of rooms and cottages if you want to stay the night, or take more time to have a few lazy days sitting in Adirondack chairs and rowing out onto the crystal clear water.

Next up, we’ll continue winding down the 101 and take the turnoff into the heart of the Olympic National Park and its gorgeous rainforest.

[Photos: JasonD]

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