Twilight has turned the Olympic Peninsula into a major point of note – the vampire series is based in Forks, Wa., — but there are so many other reasons to visit the massive region just outside of Seattle. Frankly, there are few better places to spend a couple of days than the Olympic Peninsula, which includes several remote points that can take several hours to reach from the city via car and ferry ride. Here’s a great way to spend two days, leaving the urban appeal of the city behind.
On the journey from Seattle to the Olympic Peninsula, stop to explore the maritime town of Port Townsend. Here, an abundance of Victorian architecture, antique shops, maritime culture and Northwest cuisine are balanced by parks, beaches, bicycletrails and foot paths.
Once enough photos of picturesque Port Townsend have been snapped, continue west and stop in Sequim. Pick berries, go clam digging, taste the famous Dungeness crab, which is native to this area, and visit one of 30 stunning lavender farms. Take a jaunt through the majestic Olympic National Forest on either the Gray Wolf or Dungeness trails. Or choose the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge for an open-air outing. Here, visitors can experience the Dungeness Spit — the longest natural sand spit in the nation and home to abundant birds and wildlife.
Port Angeles, just down the road when heading west from Sequim, is another friendly town that is a popular base for exploring the surrounding natural beauty, including Hurricane Ridge, within Olympic National Park, and several stunning waterfalls. Be sure to duck into one of the wineries in the Port Angeles area to sip and savor the local varietals.
Continue west to Forks, where the best-selling Twilight series of novels is set. Fans of the vampire-themed books and movies now flock to the area to see the places their favorite characters lived. Start your tour at the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center, where a red truck, similar to the truck driven by Bella, one of the books’ main characters, is waiting, along with a special map and tour packet. It’s easy to stock up on paraphernalia from the series at virtually every shop in town.
After following the Twilight
trail, retreat to a trail of a different sort. Hiking trails that lead into the rain forest valley of the glacier-fed Hoh river are must sees. With up to 16 feet of rainfall a year, plus about 30 inches of “tree drip” from condensing fog, the Hoh Rain Forest is one of four temperate rain forests within the Olympic National Park
wilderness area, a more than 900,000-acre reserve that is free of roads in its interior and as remote a place in the United States as imaginable. The Hoh Visitor Center
is the starting point for several walks shorter than two miles, as well as longer and more challenging hikes to the glaciers and alpine meadows of the park’s interior.
The park also protects 73 miles of breathtaking sandy, rocky beaches along the coast. Many are accessible via roads, and sunsets (which happen very, very late in the summer) attract photographers, romantics and just about anyone who appreciates watching one of the lasts glimpses of the sun in the Lower 48.
There are plentiful campgrounds in the area, ranging from those that can accommodate a massive camper to others that require a mile or so long hike up a beach to a secluded hamlet.