A Weekend in Olympic National Park, Washington

I just got back from a long weekend visiting my boyfriend in Seattle, and this time we thought we would switch it up and explore more of the Pacific Northwest! We planned a bit of an impromptu trip out to Olympic National Park and it turned into an amazing weekend! Seriously insane landscape, very cute little towns and great local food! Have you ever been to the PNW?

Friday

After work on Friday we headed out of Seattle for Sequim. I would 100% leaving either early or later as the traffic around work hours was pretty horrific. It was a good excuse to binge listen to podcasts and try out some Trader Joes snacks.

Sequim ( pronounced squim) is a pretty adorable town set just north of Olympic National Park. We found might be the cutest Airbnb to spend the night. Set in our hosts backyard, this little bunkie was equipped with all the necessities and stuffed with vintage paraphernalia ( records, mini SMEG fridge and old games). Once we were settled we walk a couple blocks to the main strip where we wandered around until it was time for our reservation at Blondie’s Plate.

This restaurant is set in an old church and does amazing farm to table food with fun twists. The dishes are tapas style which is great as you can try a lot of different things. Our meal was amazing- we had short ribs, steamed clams, asparagus and cornbread, plus some local Washington wine. The vibe is very fun and the servers were super friendly.

Saturday

We woke up nice and early Saturday to make it up to Hurricane Ridge before the crowds. It was a pretty grey day when we woke up but we brighten up with coffee and breakfast at this amazing coffee shop (Hurricane Coffee) in Sequim! What I loved about Sequim is that it had this super local feel where you could really tell there was a strong community here. The coffee shop had a tree where people could pay extra and leave little notes from friends or strangers ( $10 for so and so on your birthday, $5 for someone in need etc… It was an amazing take on the pay-it-forward trend! Across the street there was this adorable, tiny tiny bakery in a parking lot called Pane d’Amore. We didn’t have time to go in but the place was packed early in the morning and the bread looks amazing. There is also a morning market that happens in the centre of town and when we walked by there was a ton of artisans setting up booths. Sequim’s economy appears to be a bit of mix between traditional industry, tourism and artisans which makes for a pretty cool town.

We drove up to Hurricane Ridge, briefly stopping at the visitors centre where you, in fact, DO NOT need to buy your pass. This line is only for people buying camping/back country passes and bear barrels. The centre was pretty cool and did have a lot of information on the park.

We continued up the road where we bought our pass ($30 for 7 days) at the gates. The drive up to Hurricane Ridge is stunning, like the Swiss mountains featured in BMW car commercials stunning. In classic Washington style by the time we reached the top it was raining but nevertheless we hiked around a bit, taking the little ridge hike up the highest lookup. Even in the rain the surroundings were beautiful so I can’t imagine what it would be like on a clear day.

After walking around we were freezing from the weather so we drove back down and headed into Port Angeles. Port Angeles is the biggest town in the area and right on the water. There are a ton of good restaurants here so it is a great place to head to grab a bite.

We grabbed pizzas and local beer at Bar Hop Brewing Company where they were kind enough to put on the World Cup game for us. If it wasn’t raining we would have sat on their patio which overlooks the ocean. After lunch it cleared up a bit so we wandering around town, walking along the water, popping into some cute book shops and picking up more coffee for the road.

A little known fact is that while most Washington wine comes from the eastern part of the state, the area north of the park is in fact a viticulture region and does have a lot of wineries. We headed to Camaraderie Wines which had some highly recommended. There are no vines on site but the tasting room is super cute and people working very helpful. We split a tasting which was $7 for five wines and I am very happy we split it as there were very generous pours. We tried a white, rose and then 3 reds and then ended up buying one of the reds. All the wines were amazing but Washington definitely excels at their reds, a mix of classic French grapes and some Spanish Tempranillo.

Next we headed to Lake Cresecent, a beautiful deep blue lake in the park. Nearby is also a short hike to Marymere falls, a nice way to walk off all the wine. Upon recommendation from a woman at the winery we checked out Lake Crescent Lodge, a beautiful Roosevelt style national park lodge that sits right on the lake. We made reservations for an early dinner and curled up by the lake to read and chill out for a bit. There are also boat tours that leave from the lodge daily and boat around the entire lake that I think would be great to try next time.

The food at Lake Crescent Lodge is a little expensive, but very fitting with the lodge’s history of being a nature escape for the Northwestern elites. We had seafood chowder, a Dungeness crab salad and fish and chips, all of which were amazing. The dining room is beautiful and we managed to get a table right by the window overlooking the lake. If you just want drinks there is also a veranda attached to the bar which looked stunning.

After sufficiently stuffing ourselves with seafood we headed off to our Airbnb for the night in Forks.

TBH there is really nothing in Forks, once your get past Port Angeles you really get into rural Washington but what else could you expect around what is the known as the “least developed national park in North America”.  I would just come prepared for this with some snacks or eating dinner before you get to Forks because the choices become pretty slim.

Sunday

We woke up in search of coffee only to realize Forks doesn’t have any coffee shops, thankfully they do have these little coffee sheds in parking lots off the main street where you can just drive up and order coffee and breakfast. I was a little hesitant at first (because how good can coffee be from a shed in a parking lot?) but it was actually great! I am converted to the coffee shed trend out here! We grabbed coffees and a bagel which was perfect to get our day started.

Our first stop back in the park was the Hall of Mosses hike in the Hoh Rainforst. This is what makes Olympic National Park amazing, yesterday we were hiking on a mountain, then walking along the ocean, and today we were lost in a thick rain forest. The diversity in this area is astounding. The Hall of Mosses hike is barely a hike and more of walk as it is pretty short and flat but the scenery is amazing. Huge ancient trees dripping with all sorts of different mosses. We ended up catching the end of a ranger tour who talked us through a lot of the wildlife and plants in the area.

After the rain forest we headed back to ocean, on Ruby Beach. Ruby beach looks like a Big Sur beach, a huge expanse of sand at the base of foliage covered cliffs with giant rocks coming out of the water. It is a truly one of those breathtaking landscapes. There were some brave souls swimming in the freezing water and tons of kids playing in the tidal pools. We had brought camping chairs and set ourselves up with books and snacks to take in the air and views.

Once the water started coming in( the tides here are pretty dramatic) and the rain coming down we decided to head out to our last stop in the park, Lake Quinault. A bit smaller than Lake Crescent, Lake Quintault is a beautiful lake up in the mountains. Similar to Lake Crescent it also has a beautiful old National Park Lodge, however since we got here at a weird time the restaurant wasn’t open. We headed across the road to the general store which has a little cafe counter but after waiting in line for twenty minutes nothing was really happening so we ended up having a late lunch of cheese strings, pita chips and chocolate milk. Since this is a national park and most people are camping finding food is a little difficult and you kinda just need to take what you can get. If we were here later there is supposedly quite a good restaurant (Salmon House) just further down the road that does dinner.

One of the biggest draws to Quinault is that it is home to the largest Sitka tree in the world! Just a short walk from the road this tree needs to be seen to be believed it is truly massive. The roots were taller than me. After taking a ton of photos of the tree ( with us for size reference!) it was later afternoon and we headed out of the park and back to the city!

That is it for our Olympic National Park adventure! Definitely one of the less developed and most “remote” parks I have been too, which really allows you to take a step back and appreciate nature! So what do you think, planning on heading to the West Cost anytime soon?

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