The Olympic Peninsula Loop is a distance of 329 miles that can easily be done in a day (with back-to-back espresso’s and a lead foot), but we took a week to do it. And who wouldn’t want to take their time, with jaw-dropping views like these!
The loop encircles Olympic National Park. The red road “101”, including 73 miles of wild coastline, would be our route for these 7 days. No road goes through the Park, and most of the experiences are “off the beaten path,” so a leisurely-frame-of-mind leads to lots of memorable moments.
Olympic NP is known primarily for its diverse ecosystems. Consider it the “amazon.com of national parks”: it’s got it all! From glacier-capped mountains, to dry oak savanna, temperate rain forests, ocean beaches, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, lowland forests, highland forests, middleland forests … you get the idea! Nearly 1,000,000 acres of protected wilderness.
There are lots of places to go and things to do, but here are a few highlights!
In Port Townsend, we took in the sights of this charming port town …
and got together with friends Stan and Sigrid (fellow RV’ers) and Phoenix ex-pat’s Jock and Sonchen. Jock is an outstanding chef and made us a Nicoise Salad with Swordfish that was good enough to rival anything you’d find in this foodie capital of the Olympics.
In Lake Crescent, we soaked up alpine views and water fun on this glacier-carved 624-foot-deep lake.
Arizonies, here’s your frame of reference:
Tempe Town Lake 13 feet
Lake Pleasant 69 feet
Lake Havasu 90 feet
So, 624 feet is wearrry wearrry deep!
(The DEEPEST lake in the U.S. is Crater Lake at 1,946′– and we’re also heading there this month!)
The water is crystal clear and smooth as silk — perfect for kayaking with canine friends.
We had never seen water so crystal-clear!
The Olympic Discovery Trail is a bike/hike path that will be 130 miles along the north shore of the peninsula when completed (70 miles so far). The portion we hiked was not yet paved and completely deserted — just the way we like it!
In Sol Duc, the alternately crashing and misting waters of Sol Doc Falls cast a rainbow of happiness (no glitter or unicorns, however) over my sweetie.
At nearby Sol Duc Hot Springs, we rested our weary bones in 108 degree water and prayed the “healing properties” would overcome “old people hiking pains” (alas, no).
At Cape Flattery, we hiked the trail to the tippy-tippy-tippiest, northwesternmost point of the entire continental U.S. “Just take a step back, honey …. just a bit more …. a little further ….” hee hee hee!
We knew we were at the furthest reaches when our (previously service-less) cell phones beeped to welcome us to “Verizon Canada”! Well, not exactly, but close enough!
The beauty in 360 degrees was exceptional, making it worth the drive 60 miles out of our way.
Besides, when else would we ever be near here?
At Forks, an unexpected and unwelcome addition to the itinerary, we had to get a broken transfer case fixed on the Jeep. Forks is the revered location in which author Stephanie Meyer based her Twilight saga. With not much else going for it, Forks definitely embraced the marketing opportunities thrown into their laps, with every business trying to grab a slice. Sign on the local hotel: “Edward Cullen didn’t sleep here.” etc etc etc.
And no driving tour of the area would be complete without a visit to the Twilight “Treaty Line,” where the human chattel known as Bella would be exchanged, with Edward returning her to the border of the Quileute Indian reservation land on one side of the line, and Jacob returning her at that same spot after her visit with him. Cooperation at its finest, ‘eh? Two sides of the same sign:
At La Push without an adventuremobile while the Jeep was being fixed, we were “stranded” (oh me! oh my!) on this gorgeous beach with fine-grain sand, gorgeous views, beach campfires and dogs allowed (heck, everything allowed — this is on the Indian reservation) just steps from our RV campground. It took every ounce of strength not to secretly call the car repair shop and offer to pay extra if they would delay the repairs by a couple days!
At Kalaloch, nearby temperate rain forests like Hoh and Quinault get drenched in over 12 FEET of rain a year … no wonder everything is so green! I kept expecting Kermit the Frog to go strolling by.
This area is called “Valley of the Giants,” with some of the largest recognized trees in the entire world. The largest Sitka Spruce tree in the entire world is at Lake Quinault, 191 feet tall and 55 feet in circumference. Wowsa! Only a small portion of it would even fit in a photo.
Likewise, the Kalaloch Big Cedar Tree has been standing in the same location since the Byzantine Empire ruled Constantinople, more than 1000 years old.
It wasn’t all greenery and nature, however — we had “big-city” fun in Lacey, where we had a bank-parking-lot BBQ (similar to tailgating, but without the football) with my stepmom Janene while waiting on the laundromat machines to finish spinning (any disgust you may have for public laundry facilities goes right out the window when you start RV’ing):
And so … with the “sun setting” on our Olympic Loop fun …
even though it ‘s been a “hole” lotta fun …
… it’s time to cross into Oregon and head to Silver Falls State Park, the 9,000-acre “crown jewel” of the Oregon parks system! Lucky Charmin’ all the way!