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Please comment on 2.5 day itinerary on Olympic Peninsula

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Birmingham, AL
posts: 301
reviews: 19
Please comment on 2.5 day itinerary on Olympic Peninsula

First of all, we messed up in two ways....Planned insufficient time and reserved our hotel in a dumb place (Port Townsend) for our upcoming trip to Olympic Peninsula. We will have only 2.5 days. Please comment on this itinerary:

Day 1 (the half day): Arrive in Port Townsend after driving from SeaTac, check in, and explore the local area (especially the Fort Worden Park area)

Day 2: A loooong day....Get up early and drive to Crescent lake, visit Marymere Falls, continue on to Ruby Beach, drive back to Port Townsend. Google reports total 5 hour 13 minutes of driving.

Day 3: Stay a tiny bit closer to Port Townsend: Drive to Hurricane Ridge in a.m., then explore the north coast at Tongue Point and Dungeness Spit in the afternoon. Dinner at Alder Wood Bistro at 7:30 p.m. before returning to Port Townsend. Google reports 4 hours 14 minutes driving for this circuit.

Is this doable? Crazy? Under the circumstances we have little choice. Next time we'll plan more time and a more central location (probably at Lake Crescent)

8 replies to this topic
Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 6,579
reviews: 6
1. Re: Please comment on 2.5 day itinerary on Olympic Peninsula

Google's lying again. The drive between PT and Ruby Beach will be 3 hours, for a tiring but doable 6 hour round trip. To be fair to Google, it lacks the sensor network it has in more populated areas, so it consistently underestimates driving times in the ONP area. You will have slow going along the Lake Crescent stretch, which is twisty/turny, but it will be so beautiful you won't mind. You could always get stuck behind a slow moving RV, but with luck, that won't happen.

Ruby Beach is lovely, but it's small and no more lovely than Rialto Beach. Why not go there? It's a little closer and very accessible, as you can drive right to the beach itself. You can hike for hours if you want.

Also, you are going to see a fair bit of the Straits of San Juan de Fuca, what with staying in PT, visiting Fort Worden, and hiking the Dungeness Spit. How about substituting either Sol Duc Falls or Whiskey Bend for Tongue Point? True, you would have to backtrack along Lake Crescent to see Sol Duc Falls, but the drive is so pretty, and the falls are so gorgeous, it would be worth it. Whiskey Bend would allow you to hike past a waterfall and down to the mighty Elwha, now mightier than ever as the last of the dams is gone. However, the road can be a little challenging, as it is unpaved and not quite wide enough for two cars to pass at every point There are ample pullouts, however. The drive up Whiskey Bend takes 15 slow and careful minutes, but this often overlooked river hike is great.

I feel really bad you are missing the Hoh Rain Forest, but perhaps you can see it on a return trip.

Birmingham, AL
posts: 301
reviews: 19
2. Re: Please comment on 2.5 day itinerary on Olympic Peninsula

@ kaleberg:

Recognizing that Google underestimates travel times, the times are not too different for Rialto vs. Ruby beach and I thought Ruby was prettier....is that not true?

https://goo.gl/maps/7q5iD (Rialto)

https://goo.gl/maps/NYlkA (Ruby)

I guess Rialto would be much faster if I eliminate the trip to Marymere falls, too. I was told that the latter was a good substitute (under our time constraints) for Hoh Rain Forest AND Sol Duc Falls (a kind of "lite" version of those two). I'll get back to you about the other things you talked about when I can think about it and map it our some more.

THANKS!!

Birmingham, AL
posts: 301
reviews: 19
3. Re: Please comment on 2.5 day itinerary on Olympic Peninsula

@kaleberg:

How about....we skip both Tongue Point and Dungeness Spit and do this:

First full day: Rialto Beach, Lake Crescent, Marymere Falls

https://goo.gl/maps/5Tz2m

Second Full Day: Hurricane Ridge + Sol Duc Falls

https://goo.gl/maps/VWBb6

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 6,579
reviews: 6
4. Re: Please comment on 2.5 day itinerary on Olympic Peninsula

Your second plan looks good, given your constraints. Ruby Beach is truly beautiful, but, on balance, I think that Rialto Beach offers a much better experience. Its scale is bigger, and the beach appears wilder. It still has the sea stacks and rock formations that make Ruby so beautiful, and you can hike right into and onto some of the rock formations. The trip to Rialto Beach will save you almost an hour roundtrip of total driving, whichis worth considering.

Marymere Falls is nothing like the Hoh Rain Forest, nothing at all. The trees at Marymere Falls are old growth forest but not rain forest, and boy, is there a difference. The Hoh RF looks like something from another world. Marymere Falls Trail looks like a very pretty walk in the woods. Unfortunately, you really don't have the time to get to the Hoh RF, so enjoy what you can and plan on the rain forest anther time.

Birmingham, AL
posts: 301
reviews: 19
5. Re: Please comment on 2.5 day itinerary on Olympic Peninsula

@kaleberg: Thanks. I think we'll go for that last itinerary this trip. Next time we'll stay in Lake Crescent and see the Hoh Rainforest. I appreciate your input.

For future planning: If I really wanted to do the Hoh Rainforest justice on a future trip, where would be the best place to stay for such a trip....Lake Crescent?

Edited: 6:15 pm, August 29, 2014
Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 6,579
reviews: 6
6. Re: Please comment on 2.5 day itinerary on Olympic Peninsula

Lake Crescent Lodge or possibly Quillayute River Resort near LaPush. The Hoh RF is remote. It's about an hour from Forks, but the problem with staying in Forks is that it's on the bleak side with nothing to do after dinner and no decent, let alone good, places to eat. If you ever do decide to base yourself there, rent a house and bring your food and your own after dinner entertainment. I make the drive from Port Angeles to the Hoh RF often, but it's almost 4 hours round trip, and that's a long day. Lake Crescent Lodge is only about 85 minutes from the Hoh Rain Forest visitor center, still a long way but bearable. The lodge itself is in a magnificent setting, and the cabins are quite nice. There's a good, if pricy, restaurant, too.

Port Townsend...
posts: 704
reviews: 43
7. Re: Please comment on 2.5 day itinerary on Olympic Peninsula

I guess my question is what is keeping you from changing your hotel reservations if you don't really want to stay in Port Townsend? You could stay in Sequim or Port Angeles if the ocean beaches are a top priority.

Port Townsend is a great place to visit (and live!) but if it isn't what you want, I imagine you could change.

Port Townsend to Sequim is generally 45 minutes, Port Townsend to Port Angeles is 60 minutes. Summer traffic can go a little slower than the rest of the year due to the higher volume of visitors.

You should give yourself 1 1/2 -2 hours to get from Sea-Tac to Port Townsend.

If you do choose to stay in Port Townsend, I'd like to throw out another idea to you since you are concerned about time in the car. Would you consider taking a 1/2 day or full day whale watching trip from Port Townsend? These are enjoyable trips that go to the San Juan Islands and usually see whales.

Another fun idea in Port Townsend is to walk across on the ferry to Whidbey Island, explore Fort Casey, and then walk on back. This gives a low-cost, family friendly cruise as well.

I hope you enjoy your time on the Olympia Peninsula!

Birmingham, AL
posts: 301
reviews: 19
8. Re: Please comment on 2.5 day itinerary on Olympic Peninsula

@traveler11223: We booked our hotel under a "special rate" (we'll be there during some kind of boat show) that would require 30 days cancellation, and it was too late for that when I realized that I'd screwed up. We going to come again for a longer stay (maybe a week) and stay at Lake Crescent (I think).

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