Pacific Northwest: Exploring the Peninsula (April 22-24)

From our cottage we have views of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca in the back and the snow-capped Olympic Mountain Range out the front.

View of the Olympic Range from our cottage

Strait of Juan de Fuca, looking Northeast

The mountains called louder our first day and after a stop at the Visitor Information Center, we headed up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. A spectacular drive with knockout views under bluebird skies. It just doesn't get much better than this! Along the way we saw the Pacific or Taiga version of Gray Jays, and heard the subtle booming of Sooty Grouse in the forest.

Gray Jay on another photographer's camera

A viewpoint on the way to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park

Mt Baker, the Strait, and Dungeness Spit at center left

Pano of the view near Hurricane Ridge

Up top it was calm and pleasant, and even though the snow was slushy some folks were still skiing and boarding. Ten feet or so above the plowed road people were hiking or snowshoeing. How fantastic that we can reach this spot in just 45 minutes from our cottage!

Susan posing with a snowshoer above

After lunch at "home" we checked out nearby Ediz Hook in the Port Angeles harbor. Although part of the Olympic Discovery Trail, the area feels somewhat industrial with the Nippon Industries paper plant at the start and a Coast Guard unit at the end. Still families, cyclists, kayakers and picnicers were out enjoying the day all along the hook. We saw our first Brant geese, more Surf Scoters, Common Loons, and got a closeup look at some Eared Grebes while enjoying the views back to PA.

Port Angeles and the Olympic range, taken from Ediz Hook
Eared Grebe on the water near Ediz Hook

Curious about the Dungeness area, later in the afternoon we drove east toward Sequim (pronounced "skwim") to check it out. We walked Dungeness NWR trails along high golden cliffs with great views and learned about an all-day hike to the New Dungeness Lighthouse at the end of the spit.

The bluffs overlooking the Strait and Dungeness Spit

Tuesday morning brought more sunshine, so we seized the good weather opportunity and drove two hours out to the Hoh Rain Forest, part of Olympic National Park.

Lake Crescent, on the way to the Hoh Rain Forest

Susan in the obligatory entrance sign photo :-)

Everything in the rain forest is green and so lush

We spent the rest of the day soaking in the peace and quiet along the Spruce Trail and Hall of Mosses Trail.

On the way back home, we found a nice spot near Port Angeles to take in the beauty of a colorful sunset on the Strait.

Sunset near Port Angeles

Wednesday again brought more sunshine so even though we were needing some downtime, we drove the winding and scenic road out to Neah Bay and Cape Flattery, located on the Makah Nation Indian Reservation. The Makah Museum was excellent, and we found the story about the Ozette Indian Village excavation in the 1970's especially interesting.

Along the scenic drive to Neah Bay

Bald Eagles, coming and going in Neah Bay

After lunch at the Warm House Restaurant, we drove out to the Cape Flattery trailhead and walked the three quarters of a mile out to the most northwesterly point in the continental United States. Once again, spectacular beauty combined with calm and clear skies made for a wonderful outing. With the help of some professional whale watchers who happened to be there, we even spotted a Humpback Whale in the distance. We ran out of time to hike to Shi Shi Beach, but hope to go back before we leave next month.

Mike and Susan about to do the short hike to Cape Flattery

The boardwalk through the woods to Cape Flattery

Tatoosh Island with the Cape Flattery Light

More views from Cape Flattery, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, towards Canada

A cove near the Cape


  1. Really a nice series Mike. You're making me homesick. My wife & I are reminiscing about all those locations and all the good memories.


  2. Thanks, Randy! We still have several more posts to go and we're enjoying documenting such an enjoyable trip to such a beautiful part of the country! Stay tuned... :-)