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Weekend in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula
Posted On January 22, 2020
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A weekend in Port Angeles is a change of pace and scenery from Seattle and approachable at an hour and a half drive plus a ferry ride. Port Angeles is the biggest gateway community for Olympic National Park and a hub of economic activity on the Olympic Peninsula. This post will cover nearby Olympic National Park must sees as well as other activities in the town of Port Angeles and other public lands nearby. Port Angeles is in the homeland of the Lower Elwha Klallam people.
There are lots of camping options for a weekend in Port Angeles, though finding a spot can be a challenge in summer. Most campgrounds are open year round. Don’t forget your solid rain fly any time of year!
Heart o’the Hills Campground (National Park Service) is about half an hour from Port Angeles. It’s a big year round campground in the forest, but it fills up on summer weekends and they don’t take reservations. Get there early to get one of the beautiful forested sites!
Dungeness Spit Campground is also year round and also about half an hour away near the town of Sequim (see more info on Dungeness Spit below). They take reservations which is a bonus! It’s also a large, partially forested campground and some sites have views over the bluff to the Strait of Juan de Fuca
A bit further away (45 minutes) and a bit smaller, but beautiful and near the beach is Salt Creek County Park. More information on Salt Creek is below. They take reservations and are open year round
Another National park service campground is Fairholme on the far west side of Lake Crescent. Fairholme is only open in the summer and does not take reservations (and fills up).
Hotels, Motels and Vacation Rentals
As a national park gateway community and regional hub, there are lots of places to stay in and near Port Angeles. There are a number of Airbnbs in Port Angeles and nearby Sequim. In addition, there are lots of chain hotels at a range of budgets. The tour company I worked for uses the beautiful Olympic Lodge, which is a bit more expensive, but very nice! A bit further away (half an hour drive) in a beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Crescent, is the Lake Crescent Lodge and cabins (open seasonally April – December).
Explore the many shops and restaurants in the area around the pier
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is a vast and varied park! Here are a few highlights that are perfect for a weekend in Port Angeles.
Sol Duc Hot Springs about an hour west from Port Angeles (past Lake Crescent) and open seasonally (late March through late October) is the gorgeous Sol Duc valley. There are a number of trails, including one to a gorgeous waterfall! There is a developed hot springs which is a great place to spend a rainy day or relax after a hike.
Lake Crescent: The lodge mentioned above has canoe, kayak and row boat rentals to get out on the water. They even rent fishing poles! Lake Crescent also has many trails, including the flat Spruce Railroad trail and the Barnes Creek trail through an old growth forest to Marymere Falls, two of my personal favorites!
Hurricane Ridge is about an hour drive up, up up into the mountains from Port Angeles. Stop in the Visitor Center on the way up the hill to check the conditions. In clear weather, the views from Hurricane Ridge are spectacular! It’s open on weekends and holidays in the winter and is a highlight of a winter or summer visit to Olympic National Park (in clear weather). This is also a place to see deer and sometimes marmots and even black bears (especially in early summer).
Salt Creek County Park
Located west of Port Angeles, Salt Creek is a beautiful county park with camping on the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with views across to Vancouver Island in Canada. The real highlight here is the incredible tide pools, which rival the epic ones on the Olympic Coast (a couple hours further away). Check the tide charts and plan a visit when the tide is low, the lower the better!
Mouth of the Elwha River
This is a fascinating place to see nature reclaiming the river after the removal of the two dams on the Elwha River that blocked it for decades until it was removed in 2012. This is also a good place to find solitude, and a good place to look for eagles. To get to the mouth of the Elwha, from westbound highway 101, turn right on Place Road (just after you cross the bridge over the Elwha river), follow it to Elwha Dike road, turn right and the road quickly dead ends near a sort of hidden outhouse. Head out toward the river and the Strait of Juan de Fuca a short distance on foot.
Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge
The Dungeness spit stretches for six miles into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is protected as a wildlife refuge. It has a picturesque lighthouse at the end for those who are up for the 12 mile round trip beach walk. If you don’t want to go that far, walk as far as you want to along the beach. In addition to beautiful views, you are likely to see many shore birds and possibly marine mammals in the water. Located near the town of Sequim (follow the signs from highway 101).
Visiting local farms, wineries and cideries
The North Olympic Peninsula has lots of agriculture and a weekend in Port Angeles would not be complete without some local food, perhaps even some to take home! A few highlights include
Nash’s Organic Farm store near Sequim: combine this with your trip to the Dungeness spit! This awesome store is surrounded by their fields. In addition to produce, you can get locally grown grain and local dairy.
Love cider? If so, don’t miss Finn River Cider near Port Townsend, open daily year round for tasting!
Visit Victoria, British Columbia
The Coho Ferry departs from downtown Port Angeles and crosses over to Victoria, British Columbia in about 90 minutes. If you have and extra day during your weekend in Port Angeles, you can walk on the ferry and take in all the fun things to do in Victoria (make sure to bring your passport as Victoria is in Canada)! The ferry ride itself is also absolutely beautiful.
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!