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Old 05-06-2014, 02:57 PM   #1
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Need Local Knowledge re Olympic National Park

Upon leaving Deception Pass (after our first two nights post Chilliwack), our intent is to take the ferry over to Port Townsend and then take 101 counterclockwise with a day's-end destination in the Forks/Bogachiel area. On the way, we'd like to take in Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rainforest, and Rialto Beach. That would make for a full day to be sure. Questions: Is it feasible to tow the 21 up to Hurricane Ridge? If so, if it's cloudy on the day, would the juice be worth the squeeze? After returning from Hurricane Ridge (or if we skipped it), would the route along the coast (routes 112 & 113) be worth taking for the scenery rather than staying on 101? If we skipped HR, what other attraction would be a good substitute? Kalaloch Beach? Any recommendations for a camping site near to Forks/Bogachiel? Any advice (other than to see a therapist)? We know we'd be covering a lot of ground but, we've got a lot to see and time is short. TIA for your thoughts.
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Old 05-06-2014, 03:14 PM   #2
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There is a national park campround @ kalaloch , we have reservations for july. We havn't stayed at that site but drove by a couple of years ago and it is quite close to Forks. Last time we stayed @ Cresent beach rv that is fairly close to Port Angelas, The campground there was nothing special ( it was nice though) but the private beach across the road was very nice.
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Old 05-06-2014, 03:31 PM   #3
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I am going to be there in about three weeks and was planning to spend several days at Dungeness Spit and do day trips out of there. The rain shadow sounded appealing to me and that would be the Sequim and Port Angeles area. I anticipate seeing the areas you are planning as day trips.

There is not camping atop Hurricane Ridge so I do not see a reason to haul a trailer up top. Heart O'the Hills is a NPS campground on the road up to Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc is nearby.
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Old 05-06-2014, 04:20 PM   #4
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I was up there a couple of years ago and I think you will have troubles finding a parking spot and turning around on a busy day. The grade is a maximum of 10% and the park service does not recommend trailers or RVs on the road. I would park somewhere at the bottom or put the trailer in a campground.
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Old 05-06-2014, 06:48 PM   #5
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I’m lucky to live near the park and have enjoyed traveling the route you’re planning several times. My first observation/suggestion is that you’re being way too ambitious for a single day. It’s even ambitious for a two day itinerary.

Port Townsend, one of Washington State’s first maritime business centers is itself a wonderful destination. You might want to consider a layover there. It’s local state park, Fort Worden, has excellent camping near the beach at Point Wilson. Also the Port of Port Townsend has a beautiful RV park right on the water at Point Hudson. (Point Hudson RV Park)

If the weather is clear the drive up to Hurricane Ridge is well worth the time. The panoramic mountain views and alpine meadows are superb. Leave your Escape behind however.

Washington State Route 112 is a very nice back road with great views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca but is quite twisty with several tight corners and short but steep grades. Its best enjoyed on a motorcycle or small sports car. I’d not recommend it for towing unless your destination is Seku, Neah Bay or Cape Flattery.

I suggest staying on 101 from Port Angles to Forks. 101 is also twisty but not so much as Washington 112. 101 takes you along the south shore of Crescent Lake with great views of this beautiful mountain lake.

Trying to visit Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rain Forest and Rialto Beach in a single day will wear you out and wouldn’t do justice to any of them. I suggest trying for two at the most. As Macrae says Kalaloch is a great destination and nice park for camping. Perhaps visit Hurricane and the Hoh. Then move on to Kalaloch for your camp and Pacific Ocean beach experience.

Regardless I hope you thoroughly enjoy your time in Washington. Please tell everyone it rained the entire time you were here. Helps keep the crowds to a minimum you know.
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Old 05-06-2014, 08:49 PM   #6
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The museum run by the Macaw (spelling?) First Nations at Neah Bay has some spectacular artifacts in it. Well worth a visit, especially if you are into First Nations culture. A hike out to Cape Flattery, the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula is also well worth it. Spectacular views, cilffs, sea caves, opposing currents and plenty of birds. The Callum County campground just north of Port Angeles is a great place to stay if you plan to hit the ferry to Victoria. It is clean, quite and on the ocean. We went to the hotsprings in the National Park last year. They were crowded and very, very dirty. We will give them a pass in the future.

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Old 05-07-2014, 03:39 AM   #7
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I live in the Forks area and my job takes me all over the Olympic peninsula so I'm familiar with the roads and can provide local knowledge.

I agree that you are being ambitious. You can certainly do it in one day but you are not going to have much time to explore. Ferry time plus driving time is going to take a chunk of the day. Summer tourist traffic will increase all these times.

I don't know how much detail you want so I'll do a short version and a long version.

The short version:
Allow an hour and three quarters from when you board the ferry to Port Angeles. Don't try to take a trailer up Hurricane Ridge. Hurricane Ridge is an hour and a half round trip from Port Angeles. From Port Angeles allow a bit over an hour to get to Forks. I suggest you camp at Bogachiel State Park about 5 miles south of Forks. They don't take reservations so you will want to be there early and drop the trailer. Then an hour round trip to Rialto Beach and an hour and a half round trip to the Hoh Rainforest. That will give you about 4 1/4 hours of travel time without a trip to Hurricane Ridge or 5 3/4 hours if you visit the Ridge. Taking Hwy 112/Hwy 113 will add about 25 minutes to the travel time. In my opinion, the view of Lake Crescent from Hwy 101 is nicer than the views of the coast from Hwy 112 anyway.

The long version:
First you have to get to Port Townsend. The ferry is about 35 minutes plus wait/load/unload time. I advise having a ferry reservation as the boats are small and can fill up. Arrive at the ferry dock in plenty of time. Since you are longer than a car, if they are close to full they may not be able to get you on if you arrive at the last moment. If you don't have a reservation you will need to be there very early. Check the day's schedule online in advance since they have to skip some scheduled sailings if the tides are wrong. (By the way, they charge by length.)

Once you are off the ferry, it will take about an hour to get to the Park Headquarters at the base of Hurricane Ridge. Hurricane Ridge is 17 miles one way. If it is cloudy the view can very depending on how thick and how low the clouds are. Sometimes I have been there and you can't see a thing. Other times, the visitor center at the top has been above the clouds and you can see the mountain tops but not the valleys. The visitor center at the bottom can advise you on weather conditions at the top. Considering how full a day you have you might want to skip the Ridge if it is overcast.

I would advise against taking the trailer up Hurricane Ridge. It is steep and twisty and the parking lot at the top does not have space for a turnaround. If you are determined to see Hurricane Ridge I would suggest calling to ask about a safe place to leave the trailer. I don't know if they will let you leave a trailer at the visitor center at the bottom. There is also a Park campground (Heart O' the Hills) between Port Angeles and the Ridge.

Allow a little more than an hour to get from the base of Hurricane Ridge to Forks by 101 and longer by 112/113. If you go to Forks by Highway 112 and 113 you will see the ocean in many places. You will also be inland quite a bit. The road is narrow, twisty and slower than Hwy 101. Going by Hwy 101 you will pass by Lake Crescent in the National Park. There is both a Park campground and a private campground at the lake. The park campground is about 26 miles from Forks. There is a Clallam County campground at Salt Creek just off Hwy 112 (It's west not north of Port Angeles and northeast of Lake Crescent.)

Other campgrounds in the Port Angeles /Sequim areas include a second Clallam County campground at Dungeness Spit just north of Sequim and Sequim Bay State Park just east of Sequim.

The public camping site nearest Forks is Bogachiel State Park. There are also National Park Service campgrounds at Mora (by Rialto Beach) and the Hoh Rainforest. Another choice is the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) campground at Bear Creek on Hwy 101 just east of the Hwy 101/Hwy 113 junction. Look for the DNR sign just to the west of the Hungry Bear cafe/motel. (The Hungry Bear also has some camping spots right next door so don't confuse the two.) You will need a Discover Pass for the DNR campground, otherwise it is free.

There is a private campground in Forks. There are two private campgrounds near Three Rivers (the turnoff to Rialto beach from Highway 110). There is also a campground in LaPush.

I suggest leaving the trailer at your intended campground in the Forks area so you don't have to deal with turnarounds and parking.

The main parking lot at Rialto Beach is small and does not offer a good turnaround for a trailer. There is a overflow lot that is much bigger but it is gated in the off season. Winter storms put waves over it and it usually needs some work before they open it. How late in the year that happens depends on amount of damage and the budget and can be variable. I've also seen it closed mid-week.

Forks to Rialto drive time is about 25 minutes. It will take another 25 minutes to get back to Hwy 101 once you are done. Then you can head south to the Hoh Rainforest. With a trailer I would guess you will need a bit less than an hour to get to the Hoh Rainforest from Forks. Once you get off Hwy 101 the road gets narrow and twisty and the speed limit drops. I haven't been there in a while but recall adequate parking and turnaround space.

Kalaloch Campground is about 40 minutes south of Forks. If you are planning on camping there on a weekend in the summer have a reservation since it fills up early. There is an overflow campground at South Beach just south of Kalaloch. It also gets all the rigs that are too big for the Kalaloch campground.

All the National Park campgrounds fill on weekends in the summer. As far as I know, Kalaloch is the only one that takes reservations. The rest, you just have to be there early.

As for other things to see:
In the National Park, the Sol Duc valley. Skip the hot springs and hike to the waterfall. There are two camping areas there. One is the National Park campground. The other is some spaces just past the lodge. They tend to be full of RVs that are too big to fit the Park campground and/or want hookups. Except for the hookups I can't see much to recommend the sites as the rigs are all crammed together side by side.

It is out of your way but since it was mentioned in this thread I will mention the Makah museum in Neah Bay. It is extraordinary. It contains artifacts from a pre-historic village that was buried by a landslide. Everything was very well preserved and the museum is excellent. I take out of town guests up there regularly and they are amazed to find a museum that good in such a small town.
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Old 05-07-2014, 06:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave macrae View Post
There is a national park campround @ kalaloch , we have reservations for july.
Thanks Dave. That seems like it would be ideal for our plans.
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Old 05-07-2014, 06:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
There is not camping atop Hurricane Ridge so I do not see a reason to haul a trailer up top. Heart O'the Hills is a NPS campground on the road up to Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc is nearby.
Our plan is to go from Deception Pass to the greater Forks/Bogachiel area in a single day. So we'd need to either haul the trailer up to Hurricane Ridge, park it somewhere, or bag the Ridge. We'd rather not do any of those, but we also don't want to miss the ridge if it's a clear day.
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Old 05-07-2014, 07:02 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by smilycook View Post
I was up there a couple of years ago and I think you will have troubles finding a parking spot and turning around on a busy day. The grade is a maximum of 10% and the park service does not recommend trailers or RVs on the road. I would park somewhere at the bottom or put the trailer in a campground.
Thanks smilycook. I guess we'll bag it unless we can find a place to park it. I understand that there's a visitor center near Port Angeles. Maybe we could stash the trailer there for a couple of hours.
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