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The Olympic Peninsula Loop Drive In Washington State

Updated on November 2, 2015

Thoughts to Consider About Washington State

If there is a prettier state in the nation I’m not sure what it would be. Washington State has something for everyone. Consider for a moment that in Washington you can find majestic mountain ranges, the ocean, lakes, rivers, glaciers, islands, and an inland sea. You can find great metropolitan areas and you can find lush agricultural expanses. There are three national parks in Washington and there are142 state parks.

For the adventuresome there are endless trips to take and challenges to meet. Do you like to fish? How about scuba diving, or boating, or hiking, climbing or parasailing? Do you enjoy digging clams, or does your adventurous spirit lean more towards visiting a winery? Canoeing and kayaking are always options, as are sailing and windsurfing.

And if none of that interests you, you can still grab a camera and capture the breathtaking scenery that awaits you on practically every road.

One of those roads is Highway 101, which encircles Olympic National Park. You can plan on staying in motels along the route or you can camp. Pack what you need and leave your worries and obligations behind. Washington is a state that demands your full attention, and once you give it you will be enthralled by the surrounding beauty. The Evergreen State welcomes you with open arms.

The trip begins in Olympia
The trip begins in Olympia | Source

Olympic National Park

The Olympic Peninsula Loop

This beautiful drive takes you completely around Olympic National Park. Along the drive you will see lovely Hood Canal, snowy peaks, a rainforest, the Pacific Ocean, and that’s just for starters.

The driving directions are as simple as you could hope for. From Olympia, follow Highway 101 north and then continue on 101 in a counter-clockwise direction. When you reach Aberdeen take Highway 8 east back to Olympia. Total driving time depends on how much you want to see and how casual you are about driving. The Loop can be done in one day, but we suggest taking two or three days to really enjoy the sites.

Total distance: 329 miles.

Heading North

Leaving Olympia and heading north, you are soon out of the city and surrounded by forests and farmlands. Once you leave Shelton behind you will come to the small town of Potlatch; at this point you will be paralleling the Hood Canal. Stop at Potlatch State Park for some clam-digging and a lovely stroll along the waterfront.

Shortly beyond the park is the town of Hoodsport, where you have the option of turning left on WA-119 and taking a side trip into the Olympic National Park. Lake Cushman State Park, a popular lake for swimming and fishing, is along this road, and further on the road you will enter Olympic National Park and attractions like the Staircase Rapids Nature Trail.

Continuing along 101 you will soon come to Dosewallips State Park and more beachcombing opportunities. Access to Olympic National Park is also available here if you should take Forest Road 2730 up to Mount Walker for some hiking.

Port Townsend
Port Townsend | Source
Dungeness Spit
Dungeness Spit | Source
Olympic Mountains
Olympic Mountains | Source

Heading West

Quilcene is next up and shortly after that town you will see a turn off for WA-20 which will take you to Port Townsend, one of the Top Eight Cities in the United States according to MSN City Guides. This town is pedestrian-friendly and offers great galleries, restaurants, wineries and boutiques to visit. It also has the second-largest collection of Victorian homes; only San Francisco has more. This is a wonderful place to spend the night and enjoy the lovely ambience of this quaint town.

Twenty-nine miles west of Port Townsend is the town of Sequim, pronounced Skwim. Easily the highlight of Sequim is the Dungeness Spit, the longest natural sand spit in the United States. The spit extends over five miles out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is home to a wide-variety of marine life and migratory birds. The ten mile hike to the spit lighthouse and back is well-worth your time if you are not rushed.

Fifteen miles further and you will reach Port Angeles, from which you can take a ferry across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the beautiful city of Victoria, British Columbia, or drive east to Hurricane Ridge and some incredible scenery of the Olympic Mountains. The Ridge sits at 5,329 feet, and is a popular stop during the winter for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and some of the best views of the Olympic Mountains.

From Port Angeles you will drive west on 101 and pass Lake Crescent, a favorite place to swim during the summer months. Then you will re-enter the Olympic National Forest. Get the camera ready for some incredible pictures of giant trees in this dense forest. Soon you will come to the town of Forks, recently famous as the setting of the popular Twilight book series.

Hoh Rainforest
Hoh Rainforest | Source

Heading South

The town of Forks is home to the Forks Timber Museum as well as the Wilderness Information Center. You can also choose to drive down WA-110 to Rialto Beach, or go a little further to First Beach for whale watching and surfing.

Fourteen miles south of Forks is the Upper Hoh Road, which will lead you to the Hoh Ranger Station and the Hoh Rainforest. Here you will see one of the few temperate rainforests in the United States, and easy walking trails are there for your enjoyment. Dress for rain, however, since this section of the forest receives between 120 and 140 inches of rain per year.

Back on 101 and you will cross the Hoh River and then turn west to the Pacific Ocean. The first beach you will have access to will be Ruby Beach, where you can see sea stacks, shore birds, crabs and a variety of other sea creatures. Nine miles further down the road you will come to Kalaloch Beach and the majestic Kalaloch Lodge.

Travel a little further and you will come to the town of Quinault. Visit the Wilderness Information Center in Quinault and find out about local hiking trails, which include the Quinault Rainforest Trail within the Quinault Rainforest. You will be surrounded by lush vegetation and some of the largest trees outside of California.

In Quinault you have a choice. You can either continue on to the next town of Hoquiam, or you can detour on the Moclips Highway which will eventually take you to the resort town of Ocean Shores. During the summer months this is the busiest of the ocean towns as tourists head there to get away from possible inland heat and take advantage of the very wide and easily accessible beach.

Grays Harbor Wildlife Refuge
Grays Harbor Wildlife Refuge | Source

Heading East

If you choose to continue to Hoquiam then make sure you stop to see the Grays Harbor Wildlife Refuge. During the spring this is the home of thousands of migratory birds including the western sandpiper, dunln, dowitchers and plover.

Continue on to Aberdeen and visit the Polson Museum and the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, where you can see the Lady Washington, the first American vessel to travel into this region.

From Aberdeen you will follow US-12 east, which will become WA-8 and then US-101 back to Olympia.

And Your Trip Is Complete

Your journey may be finished but the memories will stay with you for a lifetime. This drive gives you a glimpse of all that Washington State has to offer. Of course you can make the trip in one day, but why would you when there are so many things to do and see?

Gas up your car and see for yourself why Washington State is considered an outdoor paradise.

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nancy, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thank you!

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Thanks for the wonderful tour. Definitely a place to visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, it's an easy sell. It truly is a beautiful place to live. Thank you my friend.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      With all the tour guides you have on Washington State, I must get out there some day. I only drove through it once with my parents when I was a teen and it wasn't much of a view. You make the state an inviting place to visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, our door will always be open to you and your husband if you ever make it up here. It would be wonderful to meet you in person.

      Thank you and enjoy your weekend.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      We really have to get out there. I think I have said before it is high on our vacation to do list. My husband fell in love with Seattle years ago and wants to head back to Washington. Awesome hub!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...welcome home from work, Kindred! I look forward to that hub from you.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      There probably is but I'm not sure I'm ready to tell it. But then again...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I think there is a hub in there somewhere about your sleeping places. LOL

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Sometimes I enjoy pets more than people so all three dogs are welcome to share my space. I'm not at all greedy or stuffy and without telling stories, just trust that I have slept in stranger places. :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks again, Kindred. You are always welcome to visit. We'll only make you share the room with two of the three dogs. :)

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      My goodness, I ave taken a vacation and never even packed a bag. Your state is beautiful and I am sure I would fall in love with the landscape there. I already know that there are some really cool people there. Good job pal.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rajan! I think you would find this state very beautiful!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Washington state seems to have something for everyone. The pictures are beautiful. Thanks for sharing this beautiful information, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Russ and I obviously agree, it is lovely here. I hope you are able to return one day.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, let me know what that spare time looks like, will you. LOL

      I have dreams of travelling; maybe one day they will come true. If so, you will see Bev and I on your doorstep asking for a cup of tea. :)

      love,

      billy

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      I love Washington State. When I first visited Seattle I toured around a bit. It's a lovely part of the country, especially when it's not raining.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Oh so wonderful my friend.

      I had a category of bookmarked hubs before ;I called the group 'Armchair Travelling'.

      I have now added to it again for the first time in months.

      When I have a few moments to spare hahaha!!I know you are laughing too. Some spare time ???Chance would be a fine thing.

      Anyway back to my comment;I shall indeed partake in some Armchair Travelling very soon.

      Your journey so well presented,informed and beautiful photos for that awesome finnishing touch.

      Have a wonderful day my dear friend.

      Lots of love from my little corner of Wales.

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Natasha, you do indeed need to visit, and make sure you tell me when so Bev and I can buy you coffee and we can visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are welcome, Mary!

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      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      So beautiful! I have a friend in the Navy based out of Washington (oh, and I think I have family in Washington, too), so I see lots of great pictures. I agree that it is absolutely beautiful. I need to visit for myself some day!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Oh and we would love it to...who knows, maybe one day! Thanks for the invite.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mary! You will always have an open invitation to visit us if you come to Washington. Bev and I would love to meet you in person.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Bill how beautiful...both the state and your hub....the directions are spot on, the pictures breathtaking and you've picked some lovely places. My hubby has always wanted to go to the State of Washington. He has a cousin there but we've never made it. I can't even imagine making the trip in one day, when I stop to look at something I like to really look and it seems there is much to see!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting. Shared for others to enjoy as well.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Ruby, if you ever visit him I hope you'll let me know. I would love to meet you in person.....thank you!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I have a nephew who lives in Washington State and he loves it. My hope is to visit him someday. Thank you for sharing..

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Martin!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. Loved those road trips of old.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, the directions are as easy as I made them sound. If you can drive in a circle you can drive this trip. :)

      Washington will be here waiting for you, and so will Bev and I.

      Thanks for the angels; all is right in my world once they arrive.

      Blessings and hugs coming your way

      bill

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      You had me with the directions. I am geographically challenged as my onboard gps is terminally broken. So, this is the kind of trip I would love from the onset.

      To have all of the experiences you have shared would make it a trip that I would enjoy for sure.

      What I really liked about this article is that you totally unabashedly sing the praises of this amazing state :) If I hadn't want to come there before I read this, I definitely would now

      Have a lovely Sunday evening, my dear Friend.

      Sending you Angels all the way to that lovely state where you live. :) ps

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      lambservant, thank you! I hope you get a car soon that can take you on this trip. You won't be disappointed. :)

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      This sounds wonderful. I rode on Hwy 101 for a short way back in the 90's. Took my son to a boyscout camp somewhere there and it was absolutely beautiful, what little I saw. I love road trips, but I don't have a car that could make a trip like this. Rats. Thanks for a great travel log hub BB.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lucky you for sure, Sheri! I love Victoria and I need to take Bev there; she has never seen it. :)

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 4 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Hey Bill....better than Vancouver (although I spend a lot of time there), but home is Vancouver Island, in a lovely little seaside village! Lucky me!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alicia, you live in a darn nice part of the country too; much like this state. If you swing by Olympia this summer let me know and Bev and I will buy you lunch.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Annie! You are always welcome to come visit us any old time. :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The Pacific Northwest region of North America is a beautiful area. I love the scenery of British Columbia, and it sounds like Washington is just as lovely! I must explore some of the state this summer. Thanks for the driving instructions, Bill. The route sounds very tempting!

    • Annie Miller profile image

      Annie Miller 4 years ago from Wichita Falls, Texas

      My favorite state for road tripping! Lovely post, Bill. Thanks!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheri, I agree, it is beautiful up there. Where do you live? Vancouver?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, it's been too long since I've been out of Washington. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, you would be in heaven with your binoculars and camera here.

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 4 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Nice hub! I have done a fair bit of driving in Washington. Some pretty places for sure. Almost as pretty as Beautiful British Columbia which is my home!

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx for the road trip, Bill. It's been too long since I've been out of Florida! :-)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It sure sounds like there are lots of great bird things to do.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Saltymick, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • saltymick profile image

      saltymick 4 years ago

      As a life long road tripper and sightseer, I have to say, this is a great guide to a beautiful part of the world. If I ever make it back to the Pacific North West I use this as a resource. Thanks mate.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, I'm glad you were able to go to Hurricane Ridge. The views really are magnificent from up there. I really want to return to Victoria in the near future; Bev has never been there and I think we deserve a road and ferry trip up there soon. :) Thanks buddy and have a great day!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. This is my kind of road trip. Great job. We've never made it all the way around the loop but would love to someday. We did go to Hurricane Ridge a few years ago and it's spectacular. The views were unbelievable and we were greeted in the parking lot by the welcoming committee, a herd of deer. Loved this hub.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kathryn, even the individual states are different in and of themselves. Western Washington is completely different from eastern Washington...the west is wet and green and the east is mostly arid farmland with some deserts. There is no shortage of sites to see if you ever visit. Thank you for dropping by my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jim, when are you relocating? If you ever come up north, look me up. I'd love to sit and spend time with you. Thank you for the visit.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Washington is one of the states I barely ever hear anything about, so it was incredibly interesting to read about it. I have heard that some of the states out West are beautiful, but they seem to vary greatly in landscape.

      I had no idea the USA had any rainforests! That is fascinating.

      Thank you for sharing the tour through part of Washington. If I am ever in that area, I'll have to keep this Hub in mind.

    • JimTxMiller profile image

      Jim Miller 4 years ago from Wichita Falls, Texas

      Looking forward to spending more time in the Olympic Peninsula once we get relocated.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Liz, how ya doing? I'll tell you something about Port Townsend that most people don't know...they get significantly less rain than the rest of western Washington. Something to do with the rain shadow and the Olympic Mountains blocking out storms. They get about half the rain we get here in Olympia, so they have that going for them....plus it's just a pretty city.

      Thanks for dropping by my Dunedin Dynamo!

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      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      I'm glad you finally stopped complaining about the weather. LOL I'M KIDDING.

      I looked up Port Townsend. It looks like my kind of place. If we ever decide to move closer to the home we never knew, that's where we'll go.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Chris, my pleasure, and thank you. Good fishing along the trip so bring your pole. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I hope you return soon. I would love to meet you in person one day. Thank you and have a great Super Bowl Sunday.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning Faith! Thank you dear lady; I hope you get to visit us some day. Bev and I will welcome you with open arms. :)

      love,

      bill

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      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      That is a trip I will take sometime, just not sure when. Thanks for passing this excellent information along Bill.

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      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I agree with you..and after living in Oregon there is nothing like the northwest. Though there is lots of rain the price we pay for the green...It rarely gets really freezing cold. I miss the ocean a lot and that kind of misty weather. Also the humidity after the dryness in Arizona. I love the parks, the ocean and all the beauty...You made me a bit homesick.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Wow Bill!

      Washington State has to be one of the most beautiful in the US no doubt.

      Thanks for taking us along on your road trip! I hope to one day visit Washington. It is a real blessing to you, I know, to live there and be surrounded by such beauty.

      Voted up ++++ and sharing.

      Hugs and blessings, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, thanks. I'm just getting my SEO crud out of the way so I can write about things that matter next week. LOL I don't even know why I bother with these hubs. I'll have to think about that.

      Have a wonderful Sunday my friend, and thank you!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Sounds beautiful Bill and thanks for taking us on a tour of your neck of the woods. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Have of course voted up and shared, too!!