Travel guide 2/3: Olympic National Park via Port Angeles


As per my last post, when the Beach Store Café is closed on your last morning out of town, sometimes you gotta stop for a roadside hot dog at 10am. And that's just what we did before a gorgeous ferry ride to the western tip of Washington. 

It's possible we could have spent our whole trip just exploring Olympic National Park. Out of the ten or so I've been to, I think it's my favorite National Park. From our *amazing* Airbnb in Port Angeles, we only scratched the surface of the lakes, trails and rainforests. Despite the hours I spend looking for perfect little cabins for us to stay in, sometimes the options are just limited. Stumbling upon our treehouse on a goat and sheep farm definitely felt like kismet. It was one of my favorite Airbnbs ever because a hot breakfast was included (and brought to you in bed) every morning. Oh! And our lovely hosts had just gotten a corgi puppy two days before arriving, so that's basically all I remember from the entire trip now. See below. 

On your way into Port Angeles, you'll pass through Sequim, a sweet little town with just a few little places to stop for a bite. Desperately wanting a cat nap, we quickly grabbed sandwiches from Pacific Pantry, which ended up being one of the best (and cheapest) meals out we had. The little shop has all locally made sausages, breads and spreads. Get a side of potato or chicken salad, as well!

After that well-deserved nap (so much driving today, props to Dillon), we drove 20 minutes to Lake Crescent for a sunset canoe ride. Like most of the National Parks, there are lodges for those looking for fine dining and a real bed while exploring the beauty of this country. I had read about canoe rentals at Lake Crescent Lodge, which was definitely a gorgeous little spot on a lake that is truly paradise.

Personally, I find a lot of the National Park lodges tacky and a little too "resort" feeling. But this felt quaint with its tiny cabins, which all had views of the crystal blue lake. In the front was a porch-side restaurant and main room with a fireplace; they were doing something right here. For $30 you can rent a canoe for a few hours and head out into the waters. After a peaceful ride with only one other boat on the water, we explored the walking trails off the Lodge's property. Adirondack chairs line the shore, and all the guests mingle there to drink what I assume is really good red wine. It's really a lovely place to spend a few evenings.

We did hike for a few hours in the Hoh Rainforest the following morning, but didn't really feel it was the best place to spend time. It was crowded like the Jersey shore, with cars parking along the shoulder once parking lots filled. If you haven't already been on 5 hikes and seen some crazy moss-covered trees, maybe it's a good stop. We were fortunate to have had pristine woods to ourselves for the past few days on Lummi Island.

After a dinner cooked in our little kitchenette, we drove up and up and up to the top of Hurricane Ridge. This is a place you don't want to miss at sunrise or sunset. We chose a hike we could do in an hour or two, that way we'd get the best sunset, and wouldn't have to hike back in total darkness. Hurricane Hill was perfect for that (though very steep!).

Before parking in a secluded lot at the end of the park, we peaked out our car window to see a black bear family, with cubs in tow. Dillon accidentally spooked them and they bear-crawled up a tree. So. Cute.

All the way a mile up there really are no signs of humans. This hike has a pretty narrow path with more fauna and flora than you knew existed. Baby deer and fat marmots roamed the rocky cliff edge. I (illegally) picked a few wildflowers to decorate our treehouse with. And we saw an epic sunset pouring into Canada. It's a pretty wild view from the top.

As it was Dillon's first time to the west coast, we needed to find a real Pacific sunset. And what better evening to do it on than the Solstice? I don't think we could have been much luckier finding such a majestic beach. Colors changed every minute, and photographers lined up with their tripods to catch the latest sunset of the year. After a short walk through a typical, magical woods, Second Beach in La Push (yes, something about Twilight) stares you in the face. 

Rock formations are being beaten down by waves, sun beams stream through pine trees. People are camped on the beach with fires raging and are bound to see some incredible stars above them as the last light fades.

We had a pleasantly serene few hours here, despite it being a popular destination for surfers and photographers alike. It must be the sounds of the waves drowning out others, or maybe it's just a place filled with reverence. 

Sun or fog, make the drive.