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Olympic Peninsula Tour

Updated on July 29, 2017

Setting out from SeaTac

Let us start with a map of the Olympic Peninsula. The original plan was to drive from SeaTac Airport on the southern route of 101 to Forks, WA. The plan was to stay in Forks and see the surrounding area and then return by the same route. It did not happen this way.

Olympic Peninsula Loop

From SeaTac I went I5 to the 101 loop.
From SeaTac I went I5 to the 101 loop.

The southern route on I5 and 101

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Payless Car Company upgraded me from a Ford Fiesta to a VW Jetta, 2.5 L. While exiting the SeaTac garage I asked for directions to the peninsula. The man said he normally tells people to turn right to get to I5 to go to Seattle, but in my case, to turn left, pass International St. and turn left at 188 or 200. This street is Military Drive and it feeds into I5 at 188 and 200. This is a great alternative if you are going south from SeaTac.

I was headed toward Olympia, the state capitol, to find the 101 loop around the peninsula and I made a wrong turn. I actually went into the state capitol before I realized where I was. I returned to I5 and realized you must take 101 North for a few miles to get to 108 West to get to 101 on the coast. Again, take I5 South to Olympia, 101 North to 108 West toward Aberdeen to get to the West coast. The 101 loop is closed in the south by 108.

I went west on 108 and stopped in the town of McCleary. It is a pleasant little town and I stopped for groceries. I always want an emergency stash of food. I pulled up and stopped the car, but the key would not come out! I tried to start the car, but it would not start! A couple came by and asked if I had a problem and I explained the problem. After trying to call Payless and getting no answer, the man asked whether it was in park. I tried jamming the shift forward and it worked. I had not properly put it into park. Then I bought my emergency stash including peanut butter and jelly and bread and sardines.

I continued West to Aberdeen. It has a good sized port and therefore is a good sized town. I did not stop but continued to 101 North, this one is on the West Coast. So far, I5 and 108 had been pretty flat and dry. It was also hot at 87 degrees. This is not what I had expected.

As I continued North on 101, I noticed a climatic change. It got cooler as the forest got denser. I slowed down and parked by a Ranger Station to see the forest. I hiked around for a while and then found Lake Quinault. This is what I had come to experience, a temperate rainforest and lake. It was beautiful, but I could not stay long because Forks was still a ways off. I got back of 101 North.

The rainforest is enchanting.

This reminded me of a fairyland.
This reminded me of a fairyland.

Ruby Beach

I started to see signs about Beach 1 and Beach 2. I decided to pass them by because my destination for the day, Forks was still far away. I continued and saw signs for Beach 3 and Beach 4. Then I saw a sign for Ruby Beach and I decided to pull over and see it.

Ruby Beach was beautiful. Words fail. It is awe inspiring. There is a great strip of sand and pebbles with ancient, bleached white trees strewn upon it. These trees were huge and positions well above the high tide mark. It looked like a tsunami had torn down the trees and thrown them there. I walked bare foot to the waves. I let a small wave wash over my feet. It was like ice water. I waited for a second wave and it was not so bad. I would not want to swim there, but it is beautiful.

Ruby Beach

How did all those huge trees get so far above the waterline?
How did all those huge trees get so far above the waterline?

I walked along the beach and let the water lap over my bare feet.

The water is ice cold!
The water is ice cold!

Ruby Beach from afar

What downed all those trees?  More on this later.
What downed all those trees? More on this later.

I collapsed in Forks.

I continued North on 101 and went inland, around the Hoh Indian Reservation and along the Hoh River. I was in the rainforest, which was my destination. I continued north admiring the forest to the town of Forks. Forks is so named because the Calawah River forks there. In researching the town of Forks I learned the Twilight Series had been set in it. More on this later.

I arrived at my hotel, The Olympic Inn and Suites, checked in and collapsed. The Olympic inn and Suites is situated in the northern area of Forks. There is a little road named Olympic which takes you there. The address is 800 Olympic Dr. Forks, WA 98331. 1-800-262-3433. Both the bedroom and bath were large. There was a refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and of course, a TV. The bed was large and comfortable. It cost me $99.00 a night to stay there. With tax it way $109.30. Overall it was clean and well kept.

It took me NINE hours to drive from SeaTac to Forks. Most estimates I got was a four hour drive. Well, with all the sight-seeing on the way it was NINE hours.

It was PB&J for dinner and I was glad I had my emergency stash. It was late and I did not feel like going out.

Olympic Inn had big clean rooms.

It looks like Olympic Inn had been an apartment complex.

Undi Road and the Bogachiel River

Monday, August 3, 2015

I awoke ready for the main event, the Hoh Rain Forest. First I had sardines for breakfast from my emergency stash. I packed the PB&J for the trip.

I drove around the town of Forks for a while to get the feel of it. Forks is a small town, but has a large general store, hardware store and medical clinic. Medical specialists make appointments to come to Forks.

Proceeding south on 101 I came across Undi Road. I turned off and discovered it follows the Bogachiel River. There are numerous turnouts on this road and I stopped at many of them. One trail looked like it had been cleared for a road and was now growing back. On either side of the grassy “road” were blackberry bushes. I picked and ate my fill.

Farther down Undi Road was a trail leading to the Bogachiel River. It was steep and rocky and left only rocks to stand on in the river. There was no beach. Farther along was another trail which led to a small rock strewn beach. Finally, I made it down to the river. The river was low due to the drought. I hiked along the river rocks along its bank and finally returned to the car.

Driving on, I found driveways leading off into the woods and occasionally saw a house or cabin or RV among the woods. After several miles (and hours) of driving and hiking I returned to 101 determined to make it to the Hoh Rainforest.

the Bogachiel River

the river in full sun

Here is a map of the trails further east.

I walked along the river

Hoh and the werewolf

I finally make it to the entrance Hoh Rainforest Park. There is a long road of about 18 miles before getting to the ranger station. I drove along the road and stopped frequently to hike a trail.

This was the Hoh Rainforest and was everything I had hoped for. It had soring trees, cool air, ferns and lichen. On one trail, I decided to bound through the forest like the great white werewolf that I am. After a short distance I realized the forest looked alike in every direction. Not to fear, I used my excellent sense of hearing to head back to the road.

Finally I was in the Hoh Rainforest


I loped along until everything started to look the same.

Me as my alter ego

the great white werewolf
the great white werewolf

Hard Rain Café and Twilight

I was hungry so I went back to an eatery nearby on Upper Hoh Rd. It was called the Hard Rain Café. I had a BLT, a drink and a Twix bar for $8.13. Then I returned to my hike. After about two hours I made it the 18 miles to the park entrance. I decided I had hiked enough for one day and headed back to Forks.

I got back to Forks in time to go to the visitor center. There I collected maps and learned about the Twilight Series. The City of Forks has a Twilight tour of the town. They show places that look as described in the books. They even have a summary sheet of each book. Yes, there were teenage girls at the visitor center.

Tourism is the new industry in Forks.

Real Estate and the New Plan

I was tired from a day of hiking, but I went to the real estate office next door, Forks Avenue. I met with Erin Queen of Forks Avenue Real Estate, 360-374-1100. She described Forks as a town of working people as opposed to Port Angeles and the east peninsula as artsy and hippie. Real estate prices are actually affordable in Forks! She was kind enough to print a few listings. She then showed me a map and described nearby areas. She suggested going to either Rialto Beach or La Push this evening and then Lake Crescent tomorrow. Lastly, she suggested continuing on 101 and completing the circuit because Forks was halfway.

This got me to thinking. It took 9 hours to get to Forks from SeaTac. I therefore needed to start back sooner to make my plane. Therefore I decided to see the beach this evening and check out early a.m. and travel the 101 loop towards Seattle without backtracking. This plan would save me many miles of travel, show me a new area and place me within an easy drive from SeaTac.

I left the real estate office and headed north. Only a mile or so north of Forks is the turnoff for La Push and Rialto Beach, highway 110. The rain forest surrounded the highway. After about 12 miles there is a campground for RVs in the forest along with a café and store. It is a beautiful setting. There is a fork in the road, Mora Road takes you to Rialto Beach and 110 takes you to La Push. I decided to make a right and go to Rialto Beach.

I arrived at Rialto Beach and it was awe inspiring. It was like Ruby beach. I could only speculate that all the beaches on the west coast were like this. What a wonderful place to live. I walked the beach for a while and then returned to Forks.

Rialto Beach

I walked along the beach and in the surf.

Many bleached white trees
Many bleached white trees

more bleached white trees

Blakeslee Bar & Grill did a good job on a Ruben.

I stopped by the Blakeslee Bar & Grill on S. Forks Ave. I wanted a solid meal. They do not do Bar-B-Q so I had a Ruben. It was large and well made. I thought it was a good deal at $13.82. Note, the state taxes food in Washington. I ate half and saved some for later. The Ruben eventually made three meals.

Address: 1222 S Forks Ave, Forks, WA 98331Phone:(360) 374-5003


La Push and the Quileutes

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I packed and left the motel about 9:30 a.m. I decided to go to La Push before I continued on 101. I went down 110 all the way to the beach this time.

La Push is part of the Quileute Indian Reservation. I drove around the reservation for a while and noted the houses. They were one story frame and needed some paint. There was trash strewed around in the yards and junk here and there in the front yards. I wondered why they did not just beautify their own town.

Well, at least the beach was great. There are upscale cabins for rent. The beach is beautiful. After circling the town I got back on 101 north.

La Push Beach

The water was cold.
The water was cold.

La Push Beach

More driftwood at La Push

Where did all the wood come from?
Where did all the wood come from?

After pleasantly driving along for about twenty minutes, I saw a sign for Lake Pleasant. Since I was on my way in plenty of time I decided to stop. The town of Beaver overlooks Lake Pleasant. This is a small, but more upscale town than Forks. It has only one general store on the highway. The lake itself is beautiful. There is a boat ramp and a place for fishing. Two guys I spoke to were not having any luck fishing. After a lunch of PB&J, I was off again on 101. I was now heading east. The forest gave way to grasslands.

The road along Lake Crescent is made for a Porsche.

Highway 101 parallels the Sol Duc River until it bends south into the mountains from which it flows. The Sol Duc River flows along the western boundary of Olympic National Park. Here the forest begins again. There is a road from 101 into the mountains to the hot springs and the resort. The road is about ten miles long and it costs $20.00 to enter. I decided not to expend the time or the money and returned to 101 going east.

A few miles later, 101 runs along the southern shore of Lake Crescent. The speed limit drops to 45 mph and at times 35 mph. It is a winding and curvy blacktop road canopied in forest. The lake on my left was gorgeous. The lower speed limit allowed me to enjoy the scenery. It was here I wish I had a Porsche to really grip the road.

Here is the map again.

I am just west of Port Angeles going East.
I am just west of Port Angeles going East.

The blacktop along Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent was gorgeous.

Road and forest

El Puerto de Angeles Mexican Restaurant

I came out of the forest near Port Angeles. This is a small, but upscale town. Port Angeles is not at all like Forks which is a small conservative country town. It has a harbor which services large ships and ferries to and from the San Juan Islands and Seattle.

I ate lunch at El Puerto de Angeles Mexican Restaurant on East 1st Street. The service was good and the people were very helpful in giving directions. Their phone number is 360-417-2963.

Heading east out of Port Angeles the scenery becomes more level and grassy. Suddenly I began to see, “Watch out for Elk,” signs. I guess elk like grassy lands and not the forest. At last I was making progress on this leg of the trip. I was determined to get close to the ferry before stopping for the night.

I drove past Sequim and Jamestown. I thought I would stop in Port Townsend. I turned onto highway 20 north, but then realized Port Townsend was about 20 miles further in the wrong direction. I turned around and headed back to 101 South, determined not to backtrack.

I stopped at a visitor information center to check my route. Yes, I ask directions frequently. I had to turn off 101 to 104 toward Edmonds (and Port Gamble) and then take 3 south to Poulsvo and then 305 to Bainbridge Island. The ferry leaves Bainbridge Island to Seattle. I could take 101 all the way to Tacoma, but that is a much longer distance and I did not want to backtrack. I took the shorter route and just followed the signs to the ferry.

After seven hours of driving I was getting tired and wanted to stop for the night. I had made good progress and was within a short distance to the ferry. I was going slowly and a sign caught my eye. It was a sign for the Suquamish Clearwater Casino and Resort. I immediately pulled in and checked in. I got a non-smoking room for about $160.00. It turned out to be a suite with high end finishes. I liked the Olympic Inn, but the finishes at Clearwater were much higher.

High End finishes in the rooms

This resort is perfectly placed on the peninsula and near the ferry.
This resort is perfectly placed on the peninsula and near the ferry.

Beautifully designed and maintained building

I checked in and hit the hot tub and then the pool.

The hot tub and pool was just what I needed after driving.  The pools were well done.
The hot tub and pool was just what I needed after driving. The pools were well done.

I sat out and looked at this view.

It was a little cool at 62 degrees, but I managed.
It was a little cool at 62 degrees, but I managed.

Good mom or bad mom?

After my time in the hot tub and pool, I decided to eat and check out the casino. I wound up getting the chef salad in the deli which is part of the casino. I watched a mother teaching her two daughters (?) how to gamble at the craps table. The mom took out a $100.00 bill and gave it to one of the girls to play with. Is this a good mom or a bad mom?

Who am I to judge?

If you judge another to the extent of creating negative feelings, you are only hurting yourself. So, do not judge to that extent.

I returned to the room (without gambling) and got a good nights sleep.

I checked out next morning and drove across Bainbridge Island to the ferry. The island is only seven miles across, but it has three stop lights and a speed limit of 35-45 miles an hour. I arrived at the ferry at 9:30, just in time for the 9:40 ferry. The ferries run about ever 30 minutes. I had an uneventful flight home on Southwest.

The Juan De Fuca Plate

I thought about moving to the Pacific Northwest due to the wonderful climate and scenery, but a friend told me about the Cascadia plate system. You can look up, "Cascadia subduction zone." Briefly put, the Pacific Plate pushes the Juan De Fuca Plate into the North American Plate.

The next big earthquake will happen off the Washington-Oregon coast, not Southern California. Look up the earthquake of 1701. About 1701 the land plummeted up to two meters. This explains the dead wood on the beaches and the drop off from 101 to the beaches.

If you do move to the Pacific Northwest; live inland from 101, use frame construction (sticks not bricks) and keep a food supply.

Good mom or bad mom?

Should a mother teach her children to gamble?

See results

Mind training

Will you train your mind not to judge to the extent of creating negative emotions?

See results


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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 months ago

      Thank you for sharing your adventure and pictures.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 

      4 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      This article made me homesick for Seattle. I have often driven the route you describe. It usually takes me 7 hours. Once I spent the night at a youth hostel in Forks; it cost an astronomical $12!

      Speaking of hot tubs - have you tried Sol Duc, a natural hot spring? It is a resort. Olympic Hot Springs is another one - it is FREE!

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      4 years ago from Auburn, WA

      One of my favorite places is the peninsula and I don't get over there enough. Thx for the memories. Voted up and shared.


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