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I need help Please!!

Which Olympic National Park hotels are on sale?
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Chicago, IL
posts: 18
reviews: 5
I need help Please!!

We have 8 days to see so many things! I am hoping that someone can helps us come up with a plan! My husband and I are 60 and in good shape.. We are used to putting a lot of activities into our trips due to time restraints. We are also bringing our 28 yr daughter and her boyfriend. This is our wish list:

*Seattle - Pike Market, Space Needle and experience a ferry

*Olympic National Park - Visit Beach 1, 2, 3 and Rialto, Marymere Falls, Hurricane Ridge, Hoh Rain Forest

*San Juan Islands- kayak trip, whale watch

*Victoria Island - Butchart Gardens and ?

We are arriving on July 12 into Seattle so will spend 1 full day there. Then we thought ONP for 3 nights(altho I cannot find lodging, suggestions please) 2 nights on San Juan Islands, again lodging suggestions and tour guide recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Onto Victoria for a night and back to Seattle July 20th for Sunday departure.

I was hoping for Lake Crescent Lodge Cabins but they are full. I know I am late with reservations but health issues pushed our vacation back. Would love as much info as possible. especially with driving times to different agendas. If there is something that I have not listed and we should see please let me know. Really the highlight of our trip will be if we can see the Orcas while kayaking! But know there is so much to see in your beautiful state! Thank you!

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 6,173
reviews: 6
1. Re: I need help Please!!

You won't see orcas while kayaking. It is very rare to do so. If you want to see orcas, go on a whale watching trip, which I see you have planned.

It is Vancouver Island. Victoria Island is somewhere near the Arctic Circle.

Have you looked at www.kaleberg.com? It has a lot of info about ONP, including tide tables, pictures, detailed descriptions of trails and maps.

If you want to see Hurricane Ridge, Marymere Falls (very pretty, but you also need to see Sol Duc Falls, which are much more impressive), and the LaPush beaches, you should stay in the northern half of the park. It is too bad about Lake Crescent Lodge, but consider staying in Port Angels. I would suggest a rental house, but most places rent by the week in July. Before I suggest a hotel, let me ask you what your standards are, both in terms of food and lodging.

I can help you with a rough estimate of distances. The road to Hurricane Ridge starts right in Port Angeles. It takes 45 minutes to reach the summit and an extra 5 to reach the trail head to lovely Hurricane Hill Trail, which you should hike. The hike is only 90 minutes round trip. I can fill you in on conditions as July approaches, and I can tell you where the best wildflowers are. If yu are a vigourous hiker, I can suggest other alpine trails as well.

The eastern shore of Lake Crescent is 30 minutes west of PA. The Spruce Railroad Trail along the sun filled eastern shore, is an extra 10 minutes, and it is beautiful. The Spruce RRT actually runs along the lake, offering wonderful views and even a chance to swim. The Marymere Falls Trail, which starts 40 minutes west of PA, runs inland. It offers a very pretty hike through old growth forest to a beautiful waterfall, but it does not offer views of the lake.

Rialto Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach are 1 hour and 20 minutes west of PA. All are lovely beaches, but if you go to Second Beach, which is my favorite, look at www.kaleberg.com for guidance as to tides and for descriptions of the driftwood barrier blocking the beach. You can drive right to Rialto, but you have to hike to reach Second and Third.

The Hoh RF is just under 2 hours west of PA. It is a miraculous site, and a must-see.

The Hoh RF is only 1 hour from the town of Forks. The beaches are about 30 minutes from Forks. However, I do not recommend staying in Forks. Please do write back describing your trip preferences and interests, and I will elaborate.

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
posts: 16,765
reviews: 45
2. Re: I need help Please!!

I've copied/pasted some of your text and provided responses following each point.

*Seattle - Pike Market, Space Needle and experience a ferry

Ferry to Bainbridge Island, walk that little town, no car needed.

OR, skip the ferry, you'll be on a very scenic one from Anacortes to San Juan Island, where you'll have reserved a whale watch trip on one of several boats. Kayaking, as noted, probably won't be successful and the power boats can rush to the whale locations.

Some Seattle "must sees" could include:

Ballard/Chittenden Locks Uniquely Seattle. http://tinyurl.com/ixbu

Pike Place Market www.pikeplacemarket.org/frameset.asp…

Museum of Flight A world class museum, for all ages. http://www.museumofflight.org/

Seattle Center (site of the 1962 World's Fair)

Woodland Park Zoo http://www.zoo.org/

Seattle Aquarium http://www.seattleaquarium.org/

Argosy Cruises (Tillicum Village) argosycruises.com/publiccruises/tillicum.cfm

*San Juan Islands- kayak trip, whale watch

There is so much more, suggest an overnight. We particularly like San Juan Island itself.

San Juan Islands (Specific information on the several major islands, with key websites. Best seen with at least one overnight.) tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58727-c102104/San-Ju…

Hiking in the San Juan Islands, WA http://tinyurl.com/2furs3

*Victoria Island - Butchart Gardens and ?

Inner Harbour, government buildings, definitely, the Royal Museum. This should help:

Victoria and Vancouver Island Information http://www.hellobc.com/vancouver-island.aspx

If you go to the gardens later in the afternoon, you can tour them, dine, see the show, then walk the gardens that will then be lighted. Worth it.

So, have you Google Mapped this trip and decided on a route that will encompass what you finally decide to see?

From Seattle, you could drive, ideally via Whidbey Island, to Anacortes, take the WA State Ferry to Friday Harbor and tour San Juan Island. Ferry from FH to Sidney on Vancouver Island and visit Victoria. Take the Coho Ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles for your visit to Olympic National Park.

Whidbey Island WI is a great day or more getaway with many features of the Pacific NW; this TA article includes key websites, tours, maps. tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58824-s2/Whidbey-Isl…

www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/visitorscenter

http://cohoferry.com/main/

Edited: 4:08 pm, May 21, 2013
Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 4,837
reviews: 4
3. Re: I need help Please!!

I can recommend places to stay, but you have to first decide how important eating out is as oposed to cooking yourself. When visit a National Park eating out is very low on my list and the setting is more important. I would rather sit by a campfire and a river than have choices in where to eat and what to do in the evenings. If you have similar tastes, I have a couple of suggestions. Google Forks Chamber of Commerce. Look at Huckelberry Lodge, River Runs Through It, Cabins at Beaver Creek and Oceanside Resort in La Push. Another place I like that is kind of basic but small is Boggie Bungallow.

Assuming from the Olympics you would head either to Victoria and or the San Juan's I would spend the third night in Port Angeles

Chicago, IL
posts: 18
reviews: 5
4. Re: I need help Please!!

Thank you so much for replying! As for our travel preferences we like very nice accommodations, but we're very basic as far as eating goes.. We don't look for fine dining but don't do fast food either. I'd love to rent a house but finding one for less than a week has proven difficult!

I was so disappointed with your first statement in regards to seeing orcas while kayaking. We were so looking forward to it.

I like Voyaging's idea of starting on San Juan, going to Vancouver to visit Victoria and Butchart gardens and then to ONP. What are your thoughts?

I also talked to someone who thought we should stay somewhere on Hood Canal and go to the beaches there instead of the ocean beaches. But I really want to experience the northwest beaches. Could I stay on Hood Canal and still visit ONP or would I spend my day in the car?

I would love hikes with wildflowers, views of the mountains and ocean or lakes. I will visit your website and will talk again! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 6,173
reviews: 6
5. Re: I need help Please!!

No, don't stay on the Hood Canal. It is very pretty, but the "beaches" are just sandy strips (full of tasty oysters, though), and they are NOTHING at all like the magnificent Pacific beaches in ONP. Also, the Hood Canal has its charms, but it is very limited unless, perhaps, you have a boat. ONP is just overwhelmingly beautiful and full of variety. It has three ecosystems: alpine, marine, and rain forest, and each is a wonder. It is a very long, slow drive from the Hood Canal to the part of ONP you wish to visit. You would be spending hours in the car.

If you like to stay in very nice places, try for Colette's B&B or Domaine Madeleine, both luxurious B&Bs. You can also look into the Inn at Rooster Hill, which I have not visited, but which was recommended by the Wall Street Journal. All of these B&Bs are in the Port Angeles area. I like your plan of coming to PA on the Coho from Vancouver Island.

Here is the thing about food in and around ONP. Port Angeles has several good, although not great places. Lake Quinault Lodge, which is way out of your way, has a very good restaurant. Virtually everything else west of Port Angeles is a food desert. Should you stay in Forks, a rather depressing little town with almost no amenities, you will be limited to one honest burger joint run out of a general store at a campground. That really is the only place I can recommend to eat. This is the main reason I tend to suggest renting a house in the area. If you must stay near Forks, try for one of the newer, fancier cabins on the beach at Quilleute Oceanside Resort. Bring food.

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 4,837
reviews: 4
6. Re: I need help Please!!

Getting anywhere near Orcas with a kayak, requires a lot of luck. It is every NW kayakers dream. I have been thrilled by the experience, but it was a very unique situation. Think of the reality of the situation. Even if you were lucky enough for a boat to put you in kayaks near a pod; once everyone is in their boats why would the Orcas stay in that same spot untill everone is ready. No way you are going to keep up with a pod. Possible maybe, but I would not count on it. Oceanside is a good option, I was just there. The others I mentioned are also nice. The only reason to spend any time in Forks is to buy food. If you do not want to cook in your own kitchen or on a grill, then stay in Port Angeles.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 39,486
reviews: 74
7. Re: I need help Please!!

>>going to Vancouver to visit Victoria and Butchart Gardens<<

Be very careful with your planning. There are lots of duplicate pieces of names. You want to go to Vancouver Island, not the city of Vancouver.

I also like Voyaging's suggested route: Seattle -> Whidbey Island -> Anacortes -> San Juan Island -> Vancouver Island (BC ~ another country!) -> Port Angeles -> Olympic NP

Chicago, IL
posts: 18
reviews: 5
8. Re: I need help Please!!

Thank you all! I am afraid I put the cart before the horse when I made the airline reservations! We had to cancel this last year because my husband had to have open heart surgery. The vouchers were only good for 1 year so we had to wait for the go ahead from cardiologist and then we booked. But I have spent countless hours looking for lodging. It's a nightmare trying to put the dates and rental homes together. I never realized how busy Washington penisula is in the summer! But I guess there is such a narrow time frame, everyone wants to go at the same time. Soooo, a couple of people have said we should also see Mt Rainier? I just don't know how to fit anymore in.

San Juan islands are a must for us and we need a 3 night min. stay at the rental homes. We plan on staying on the west side of San Juan Island close to Lime Kiln State Park.

I was going to stay one night in Victoria (BC) because the Butchart Gardens are on my bucket list and they are a must. I wanted to go in the afternoon and have dinner there, and catch the show. Then walk the gardens under the lights. I've been told its fabulous. But I don't know how late the ferries run and if I'd be able to get back to San Juan late at night. And then there's always a long wait I've been told at the ferries!

Do you think we could include Rainier for a day? Cut ONP to two days? I'm afraid I need all of your expert help again trying to put an itinerary together.

We fly into Seattle the 12th of July and depart on the 21st. I've already decided to cut Seattle to just Pike Market and the Space Needle.

ONP musts are LaPush beaches, Hurricane Ridge, and Sol Duc Waterfalls, and maybe 2 of the best hikes(Lake Crescent per Kaleberg and I was thinking another that would have a great view of snowcap mt olympus and beautiful wildflowers that I was hoping to get help with)(I think we are skipping Hoh rainforest) I've also been told to not miss the Makah Reservation to see Cape Flagttery?

I can't thank all you enough!

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 4,837
reviews: 4
9. Re: I need help Please!!

I think there are far better ways to spend time on the Olympic Penninsula than going all the way out to Cape Flattery and the reservation. The Hoh is far more unique and special! It is still a little tough to predict what the conditions will be like at Hurricane Ridge for hiking. we had unusually warm weather, now cool and wet. Wait till we get closer to your dates to decide where to hike at Hurricane Ridge. If you are talking about the Spruce Railroad trail at Lake Crescent, there are better walks IMO. I far prefer untouched forests. Marrymere Falls is a short walk, but much more impressive. The only place you can see Olympus other than from the water is the Hurricane Ridge area, a couple of close glimpses around Forks or from major hikes. Did you find places to stay? If I had a choice between Mt. Rainier and Butchart Gardens, I know which one I would pick. Yes I would try and fit in Mt. Rainier. It is a National Park Gem.

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 6,173
reviews: 6
10. Re: I need help Please!!

Your best views of both wildflowers and Mt.Olympus will be from the lovely Hurricane Hill Trail atop Hurricane Ridge. The trail ascends 760 feet over about 40 minutes walking time. Most of the ascent is gradual, but the trail has three steep stretches that will get you panting. There is a particularly lovely alpine meadow full of wildflowers, including False Hellebores, that you should see. On your way down from the top of Hurricane Hill, take the little trail to your right marked Elwha Ranger Station. Walk out 10 minutes to the overlook beyond the trees. That's where the best flowers are. It's one of the most enchanting spots in the park.

Glaciermeadow is absolutely right about the long trip out to the Makah Reservation vs. a visit to the Hoh RF. The former is worth it if you have a long stay in the park, but the latter is one of the wonders of the word and should not be missed. If your husband can manage a 10 mile, mostly flat, easy round trip, walk the River Trail to 5 Mile Island. It takes 2 hours to get there and two to return. As you look up the glorious Hoh River, you will see the mountains. This is one of the best hikes in the park, and you would never forget it. Much as I love Lake Crescent, the Spruce RRT just does not compare.

One thing to remember about the evening show at Butchart Gardens is that night falls very late in mid July, after 9:30 pm.