Welcome To The North Olympic Peninsula....


Washington State’s North Olympic Peninsula has some of the best views of scenery and wildlife anywhere in the United States.  The Peninsula is home to temperate rain forests with well over 200" of annual rainfall, and one of the most unique Sun Belts and moderate climates in the Nation with an annual average rainfall under 16”  All this on a Peninsula about 95 miles long and 68 miles wide.  What an amazing and unique area!

From hiking up to snowcapped peaks and glaciers, winter skiing, fishing of all kinds, bird watching, or enjoying the temperate rain forests themselves, to spending the day basking in the sun along a Pacific Coast beach or along the Strait of Juan De Fuca, the Olympic Peninsula has a wide variety of activates all year long.

As the Eagle Fly's, the North Olympic Peninsula is a stretch of land as stated above, is about 95 miles long, and 68 miles wide.  There are well over 100 major events from Sailing Races, Art and Music Festivals, the Jefferson County Fair in Port Townsend, the annual Sequim Irrigation Festival, Lavender Festival, and in Port Angeles there is the Clallam County Fair, Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival, Halibut and Salmon Derby, to the Old Fashioned Loggers Show and Fourth of July Celebration in Forks, and the West End Thunder Drag Races.  In 2015 Port Angeles will host the international Sprint Boat Races located at our local man made water track.  The removal of the Elwha Dam’s has also made the international news lately.  They have been removed so the salmon can once again migrate up the Elwha River to spawn.  Visitors from all over the world as well as congressional representatives have come to witness this event.

Over three million visitors come to the Peninsula each year to enjoy its low annual rainfall and temperate climate as well as multitudes of activities.  At the end of this introduction to the Peninsula, we have listed several websites where you can go to learn more about the area’s climate, beauty, and activities unique only to this area.

According to combined records from all the local area Chamber of Commerce's, there are families and individuals who have signed the guest book at one Chamber or another year after year.  Many families or individuals fall in love with the Peninsula and move here after finding a job, or many more move here after retirement.  This is all due to the temperate climate, great community to raise children with the hundreds of indoor and outdoor activities.

There is even a story told of a family from Southern California who is believed to hold the record for visiting somewhere on the Peninsula every year for 47 years in a row.  As the story goes, the Grandparents after retirement eventually build a large home for themselves and a 1,400 sq. ft. guest-house so the kids, grand kids, and great grand kids could have a place to stay when coming to the Peninsula.

There are four major communities, which are the hubs of this 95-mile long North Olympic Peninsula.  Coming from the East is Port Townsend, then Sequim, Port Angeles, and Forks to the far West.  Now Port Townsend, Sequim, and Port Angeles all take pleasure in a coastal climate that has one of the mildest and unique climates in the United States.  The coldest temperatures in the winter during the day generally range from the upper 40’s to mid 50's, to the mid 70° during most of the summer months, rarely reaching much over 80 degrees.  During the winter, we do occasionally get snow and it does drop below freezing in the daytime, but these are short bouts lasting one to two weeks max.  Now Forks, Clallam Bay, Sekiu, Neah Bay, Lake Quinault, and Amanda Park are all located on or near the most Northwest section of the Continental United States, with Neah Bay being as far as you can go without walking straight into the Pacific Ocean.

Average rainfall is 19” per year for Port Townsend, 16” in Sequim and 26” in Port Angeles.  The three just above-mentioned communities all enjoy the same summer and winter temperatures.  The rest of the communities on the Olympic Peninsula enjoy about the same high and low temperatures.  Forks residents in particular enjoy over 110 inches of annual rainfall with most falling in the late evening until early daylight.

Due to the Olympic Mountain range, Forks although is very unique in itself, it does have similar winter temperatures, often enjoys a few degrees warmer in the summer due to the uniqueness of the valley or bowl as it is often called that it lies within.  However, this variation is generally only 3 to 7 degrees higher.  Now we've said Forks enjoys 110 inches of annual rainfall for a good reason.  Forks lies near the farthest Northwest edge of the Peninsula and as the Eagle fly's it is less than 10 miles to the heart of the major rain forest known as the Hoh Rain Forest with over 200” of annual rainfall.  The other communities on the Northwest section of the Peninsula from Neah Bay to Amanda Park share weather a little closer to Forks, Washington, but not quite as much annual rainfall which varies from 100" in Neah Bay to around 80" in Amanda Park.   This end of the Olympic Peninsula is often refereed to as the Green Forest Belt thanks to its unique climate.

Two major natural features, water, and mountains, which influence the weather of the Port Angeles, Sequim, and Port Townsend areas.  The water, which nearly surrounds the area, keeps the temperature amazingly comfortable year-round.  Seldom does it get cold, and the summer has surprisingly low humidity.  The Olympic Mountains play a big role in influencing the weather.  Because they rise over 7,000 feet and are south and, the mountains create a rain shadow effect for the Port Angeles, Sequim, and Port Townsend region.  This combination of a temperate climate and a reasonable amount of rain make it ideal for humans, but plants also love it, which is why flowers, gardening, and boutique farming are so popular.  The incredible array of waterfront, wilderness, and wildlife make the Olympic Peninsula a nature lovers’ dream-come-true.

Port Angeles is the largest community on the North Olympic Peninsula.  The Olympic Peninsula itself is located in the northwest corner of Washington State, west of Seattle, across the waters of Puget Sound.  The Peninsula is home to the World famous Olympic National Park, the United States’ third most-visited of the western National Parks with nearly a million acres and well over 900 miles of mountain hiking  trails.  In the center of the peninsula are the Olympic Mountains with 60 glaciers; to the west are the dense rain-forest valleys where rainfall exceeds 200 inches a year.

The Peninsula is bordered to the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca with easy access to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and to the east by the Hood Canal, a 60-mile long glacier-carved waterway.  US Hwy 101 encircles the Peninsula, touching towns and special places with access to many more.  The entire Peninsula has a rural nature, with around 135,000 residents in an almost 4 million-acre region.  The largest town is Port Angeles with around 60,000 people it closely services.

A number of unique micro-climates exist on the Olympic Peninsula as already discussed all thanks to the Olympic Mountain range.  More specifically however, moist ocean air off the Pacific Ocean brings from about 12" a year, to over 18ft of rain per year in the Hoh Rain Forest located on the Western side of the Olympic Peninsula all the way to almost Amanda Park, one of the most temperate rain-forests regions in the Northern hemisphere.  The communities on the north and east side of the peninsula enjoy some of the lowest rainfall averages in western Washington, from 12" to 25" per year. 

Temperatures are mild year round, with highs in the summer rarely over 80°F, and winter snows infrequent and short lived.  Late December, January, and February are the coldest months on the Peninsula.  If daytime temperatures due drop below the mid to upper 40's which is the coldest winter months average, it is during these months that it will happen.  But as already stated, these are very short lived temperature drops.  We even get weird storms once every 10 - 20 years, with show-fall as much as 4 feet in a few days, but gone within two weeks and the temperatures back to the upper 40's.

The west is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the east by the Hood Canal, and the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  The Olympic Peninsula is anchored by the majestic Olympic Mountains as talked about above.  No other place in America can match its diversity in terrain and weather in such a compact geographic area knows as the North Olympic Peninsula.  

Over three million visitors come to the North Olympic Peninsula every year.  Granted, more than half come to see the Olympic National Park or take the Ferry ride to Victoria Canada, which is another awesome place to visit just roughly 16 miles across the Strait of Juan De Fuca from Port Angeles.  

There are many small cities and towns on the Peninsula.  The list begins as you arrive at the Northeast edges of the Peninsula with Port Townsend, Port Hadlock, Irondale, Port Ludlow, and Chimicum all offering great visitor attractions and many annual events.  These communities are a short distance from one another and are located on the Northeast side of the Peninsula.  Then the next major cities you come to are Sequim and Port Angeles which are about 12 miles apart, are considered the hubs of the Peninsula offering most all the popular well known chain stores like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Costco, Rite Aid, Safeway,  and Office Depot to name a few.  Many people are surprised to see all these large chain stores out in the middle of the wilderness so to speak.  Well it never used to be that way and we have the unique weather of Sequim to thank for having them today.  Residents of Sequim often refer to their community as the "Banana Belt."

The Sequim Valley is in what airline pilots refer to as a Blue Hole, and others call it the Rain Shadow.  During some of the winter months, you might fly a plane all day long all over Western Washington and all you might see is clouds everywhere until you fly over the Sequim Valley.  Moreover, there it is a blue hole where you can see all the way to the ground even at 30 thousand feet.  Sequim enjoys an average of 11-15” of annual rainfall and about 200 plus days of pure sunshine and another 100 days of mostly sunny days with only a few clouds occasionally in the sky on those days.  If you would like to learn, more about the Blue Hole check out the Seattle, Washington KOMO News website by clicking HERE, which has a great story of why the Blue Hole exists.

Below is an image, which represents the Olympic Rain Shadow:

While Port Townsend, Port Angeles, and Sequim are considered the hubs of the Olympic Peninsula there are over a dozen smaller communities on the Peninsula with populations under 1,000 such as Forks, Sekiu, Clallam Bay, Neah Bay, LaPush, Amanda Park, Irondale, Chimicum, Port Hadlock, Quilicine, Carlsborg.  Each of these communities although smaller each has their own annual celebrations and activities.

While an estimated million or so people come to the Peninsula specifically to enjoy one or more of the activities offered by the many communities on the North Olympic Peninsula, millions more come for the purpose to enjoy one of our main attractions, which is the third most visited park in the United States, the Olympic National Park

It cannot be stated more eloquently than stated on the Olympic National Park's home-page website, “Olympic National Park is a land of beauty and variety.  A day's exploration can take you from breathtaking mountain vistas with meadows of wildflowers to colorful ocean tide pools.  Nestled in the valleys are some of the largest remnants of ancient forests left in the country.  Olympic is like many magical parks in one.  Take some time to explore its different faces!"   Now we would like to add to this by telling you to check out the Hoh Rain-forest Hall of Mosses which you can find on this Google link.  You will find some of the most beautiful pictures ever taken of the Hoh Rain Forest form trees so big that it would take  20+ adults holding hands in a circle to surround them.  There is beautiful pictures of the forest with moss sometimes hanging 6 feet from trees or limbs.

Many however come mainly year after year to enjoy some of the best river and ocean fishing on the West Coast.  Others come to visit and explore our lakes, waterfalls, rivers, mountains, beaches, and of course the rain forests.  As we have stated, after visiting the Olympic Peninsula many people eventually move here because of the variety of activities both indoor and outdoor, and we do not want to forget to mention the cleanest water and air in the lower 48 according to every expert.

If you want to learn more about the healthy living and activities offered on the Peninsula as we told you earlier, we have listed below some of the most popular websites describing our area.  Many of the activities to enjoy on the Peninsula are world famous and we have tour buses all year long to see them, and they bring visitors from every country on this planet to experience and enjoy them personally.   

Some of our most famous are the Olympic Game Farm, and the Olympic National Park, and Olympic National Forest listed first, second and third below, followed by many of the most popular websites describing the beauty and activities and scenery on the Peninsula.  There are then followed by the major author of this article favorite thing to do, especially on the Northwest End of the Peninsula, Salmon and Steelhead fishing, where we have listed first one of the authors favorite, of the many Guides who are well know on the Peninsula.

Olympic Game Farm: worked exclusively for Walt Disney Studios for 28 years, filming here at the farm and on the Olympic Peninsula, as well as on many different set locations.  A few popular titles produced with our past animal actors, are “Charlie the Lonesome Cougar,” “The Incredible Journey,” “White Wilderness,” and “Grizzly Adams” television and movie series.  It was opened to the public in 1972 and has been one of the biggest draws to the North Olympic Peninsula.  They also have great food at the Game farm with a menu of all the favorite items you would expect to see at such a location, and yes they have a dozen flavors of Ice cream, all offered by Hardy's Market & Deli which operates a Convenience Store, Drive Through Espresso, and the most famous Deli on the Olympic Peninsula located at the intersection of the Peninsula's first "Round-a-Bout," where North Sequim Avenue intersects with Old Olympic Hwy, Port Williams Road, and Sequim Dungeness Way.

Olympic National Park:  Three Parks in One.  Olympic National Park is a land of beauty and variety.  A day's exploration can take you from breathtaking mountain vistas with meadows of wildflowers to colorful ocean tide pools.  Nestled in the valleys are some of the largest remnants of ancient forests left in the country.  If you are interested, you can click on the Olympic National Park's Newspaper called The Olympic Bugler which is published twice yearly and is filled with information and ideas about visiting and enjoying Olympic National Park, including the current schedule of ranger-led education programs.

Olympic National Forest:  Olympic National Forest encompasses the varied landscape of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula from lush rain forests to deep canyons to high mountain ridges to ocean beaches.  This diverse and scenic forest reaches the mid elevations of the Olympic Mountains, surrounding Olympic National Park.

Phil Gray's Guide Service:  The main author of this story thinks highly of this great young fisherman.  Here is a website where Phil states: "Salmon and Steelhead fishing guide service for the Olympic Peninsula.  I started fishing at a very young age and immediately it was no secret - I lived to fish... but not just to fish, but also to catch fish and learn everything about what I was catching!  Every day of fishing is different- some are more bountiful then others, some are more testing, some will teach you valuable lessons for life, and most every day is relaxing and worth just pausing and soaking in the whole experience.  I enjoy success in the fishing aspect of every trip, but I also really strive to make every trip enjoyable, fun, informative, and comfortable.  I want everyone to be able to look back and really want to spend another day in my boat with me, whether fish were landed, lost, or missed."

Google Link to Guide Services:  To be fair, this link will take you to a web-page where Google lists many of the Salmon and Steelhead fishing guide services offered on the Olympic Peninsula.  The author of this article may favor Phil Gray's Guide Service because he knows him well personally, but to be fair, there is other great guide services offered on the Olympic Peninsula, which you will find, listed on this link.

Olympic Peninsula Washington State:  An awesome website, which lists many of the activities on one website for all the communities on the Peninsula.  You can browse the activities by year, month, activities, and/or by city.  This is a fairly new website that is growing and we are told that by next year they will have covered all the activities in the small and large communities on the Olympic Peninsula.  Worth checking out.

Waterfall Trail Website:  This is a cool Facebook web-page where you can learn about some of our most popular and beautiful waterfall hikes located on the Peninsula!  Here is a flyer originally published by a group knows as the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail that will give you a start in exploring some of the waterfalls on the Olympic Peninsula.

Audubon Washington:  If Bird Watching is in your list of things-to-do,the North Olympic Peninsula is the place for you.  There are over 200 species of birds, some of which live nowhere else in the world, other than right here on the Peninsula.  You can go to this page of their website and scroll down the page until you see "Click here to view Olympic Loop booklet in PDF," and you will be able to download the Olympic Loop brochure which features over 200 birds which can be found on the Loop.

Hiking The Peninsula On Foot:  There are many websites that talk about exploring the Olympic on foot.  Google offers some suggestion using the above link.

Take A Hike:  This is a website offered by Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission.  This is a great website and you can even sigh up for their newsletter.  Some of the hikes they talk about are the Hoh Rain Forest, Lake Crescent, Dungeness Spit, Rialto Beach, Tide Pools, Shi Shi Beach, Sol Duc Falls, and Hurricane Ridge.  These are only a few of the hundreds of hikes you can take on the North Olympic Peninsula.

The Solduc Hot Springs:  Directly stated from the Olympic National Park Website:  "Spending the night in a rustic, charming Sol Duc cabin is the ideal way to experience Sol Duc's serenity and the supremely relaxing hot springs on the Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington. Our Sol Duc cabin rentals are surrounded by towering evergreens along the Sol Duc River in a picturesque valley. You'll have convenient access to our hot mineral-spring pools, massage therapists, poolside deli, restaurant, gift shop and convenience store.  Stay a few days, making Sol Duc your base-camp as you discover the wonders of the Sol Duc Valley and the famous Sol Duc falls. Encouraging you to enjoy your Sol Duc getaway in blissful simplicity, there are no modern distractions like telephones, televisions or radios in our Sol Duc cabin rentals." 

This is a great place to take the whole family of all ages for a day or weekend of great fun.  The author of this article has personal taken his family there dozens of times over the years.  Now the Grandkids are getting the chance to visit this unique area.

Olympic Hot Springs: Coming Soon!