Olympic Peninsula

The Olympic Peninsula is a region of the state of Washington in the United States of America. Centered around Olympic National Park this sparsely populated area includes 100 km of wilderness coastline, the longest undeveloped coast in the contiguous United States.

Anderson Glacier, Olympic National Park

Regions

The Olympic Peninsula is centered around the Olympic Mountains and the Olympic National Park. To the east it is bordered by the Hood Canal which is one of the largest fiords in the United States. To the north it is separated from Canada by the Admiralty Inlet and to the west it is bordered by the Pacific Ocean.

Cities

Clallam County

Grays Harbor County

Jefferson County

Mason County

Other destinations

Ruby Beach in the Olympic National Park

Understand

For the purposes of this article, the Olympic Peninsula region consists of Clallam, Jefferson, western Mason, and Grays Harbor counties. The eastern part of Mason County, including Allyn and Union, is covered by the Kitsap Peninsula article.

Get in

By car and ferry

The ferries crossing the San Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound are capable of transporting vehicles.

  • Westbound US Hwy 12, north of Centralia from Exit #88
  • US Hwy 101 in Olympia at Exit #103
  • WA-Hwy 16 through Tacoma at Exit #133. Hwy 16 goes across the Narrows Bridge up to Bremerton where it merges into Hwy 3. ($6 toll to cross the Narrows Bridge from Gig Harbor to Tacoma. No toll going the other way.)
  • WA-Hwy 104 in Mountlake Terrace (follow signs to 'Edmonds Ferry') at Exit #177 (going north) or #178 (going south)
  • WA-Hwy 20 in Burlington at Exit #230. Follow Hwy 20 through Anacortes, Deception Pass and down through Whidbey Island to the Coupeville Ferry Terminal

By bus and Airport shuttle

Get around

If you are not with tour coach, it is strongly recommended that you hire a roomy, good quality sedan, SUV, or minivan upon arriving in Seattle. Driving around the peninsula is very enjoyable but can involve long distances.

By car

US Hwy 101 is the primary highway around the peninsula starting from Olympia (Exit #103 from I-5) and goes west of Olympia and north to Shelton, Hoodsport, Sequim and Port Angeles. The highways turns southwards towards Forks and Aberdeen. The shortcut to Aberdeen from Olympia along Hwy 101 without going all the way around would be to continue west along the highway, past the US Hwy 101 turn off towards Shelton. That same highway becomes WA-Hwy 8 going west towards Aberdeen where it intersects US-Hwy 101 at S 'H' Street & W Wishkah Rd west of downtown Aberdeen. Turn left at 'H' and over the bridge to go south on Hwy 101 or follow Wishkah Rd to S Alder to go Hwy 101 north. There are NO roads across the Olympic Mountains like from Hoodsport/Hood Canal or Shelton to Forks.

US Hwy 12 continues westward from I-5 at Exit #88, which is a shortcut towards Grays Harbor if coming from Centralia or anywhere south along I-5. The highway intersects WA-Hwy 8 at Elma.

WA Hwy 3/104 turn-off 3mi south of Discovery Bay (WA Hwy 20 turn-off towards Port Townsend) along Hwy 101 connects to the Kitsap Peninsula via floating Hood Canal Bridge.

By bus

There are public buses available for travel around the peninsula without a private automobile. There are NO Greyhound bus services to and around the Olympic Peninsula. There are five counties in the Olympic Peninsula which operate their own transit buses in town and along rural routes between towns in their respective counties and to adjacent counties (or the county line) to the meet the onward bus into the next county. The buses are usually timed for one to arrive several minutes before the next one leaves. They are not fastest way to get around but are the cheapest for the budget traveler. Check schedules. They are:

Unlike city buses in town the rural routes run infrequently so plan accordingly. There are no bus services into the Hoh Rain Forest (nearest stop is at the turn off at Hwy 101 which is another 17mi/27.2km to the visitors center) and up into the Hurricane Ridge and Elwha from Port Angeles or anywhere in the Olympic National Park from along Hwy 101. They can drop passengers off along the highway and from there it is up to you to hike your way into the park.

Do

whitewater rafting the Elwa River

The Olympic Peninsula is an outdoorsy place that offers a wide variety of places to experience nature.

Eat

Be mindful of the time of day particularly in early summer. Restaurants in remote areas may have limited hours of operation, and reservations are recommended where available.

If traveling by car, consider packing a picnic basket as a contingency measure.

Drink

Coffee

Coffee is hugely popular all across the Pacific Northwest including the Olympic Peninsula. Look for small road side espresso stands even in small towns.

Beer

Like the rest of Washington State, microbreweries and beer in general is hugely popular, and the area has many to offer for beer enthusiasts. Some brews can only be found in local stores or bars (some notable brewers don't even bottle their product). Ask your servers for local beer recommendations and search out regional microbrews in stores.

Wine

Although the Olympic Peninsula is not known as wine country, many Washington State wines are still and plentiful in restaurants and stores.

Stay safe

Being on the Pacific Rim means that earthquakes and even tsunamis are a possibility, so no matter how remote the chances are, it’s best to be aware and prepared. Areas along the coast have tsunami evacuation routes well marked.

Go next

The Olympic Peninsula is bordered to the east by Puget Sound and the Kitsap Peninsula. To the south is Southwest Washington and to the north via a ferry is Vancouver Island.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 14, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.