The highlights of this road trip include the Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park and the Washington Coast. The Olympic Peninsula is where Sitka spruce and western hemlock reach heights of up to 300 feet. Enjoy lake life, hiking trails and views of the forest. This trip could be done in as little as three days or you could linger a little longer. If you have time, combine this road trip with the North-Western Washington Road Trip Itinerary.
Seattle to Lake Quinault
148 miles / 3 hours
Start in Seattle and make your way south on the I-5 and eventually west over to the 101. It will take approximately 3 hours to reach Lake Quinault (take a right on South Shore road). Once here you will be surrounded by serenity and the largest living specimens of Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar.
Depending on your budget and preferences you can stay at one of the camp sites found along the lake or at the Lake Quinault Lodge; a rustic lodge built in 1926 also located on the lake's shore. We stayed at Wallaby Campground where each campsite was hidden amongst the lush rainforest with some of the sites having water views. All campsites had fire pits and a picnic table. Our little slice of paradise for the evening was surrounded by marrionberries which made our stay a delicious treat. We spent the evening beside the lake splashing around, fishing and eating fine cheese.
The following morning we headed over to the Lake Quinault lodge to rent canoes and paddle around on the lake (you can also rent stand up paddleboards or row boats). The lodge was gorgeous and the sitting room had a lovely ambience. You are permitted to lounge around on their luxurious leather lounges and read a book, use the wifi or snuggle up by the fire place. There are also Adirondack chairs placed out on the lawn for basking in the sunshine. We were told the sweet potato pancakes were divine but did not have time for lunch.
Tip: If you would like to stay at the Lake Quinault Lodge, use the search bar below to get room rates. You can usually find deluxe double rooms for under $100 a night. You can also book the campground through here.
Lake Quinault to Ruby Beach
40 miles / 1 hour
Head to the west coast and make your way north to Ruby Beach. The beach is accessed via a 0.25 mile trail from the parking lot. At the end of the trail you will be greeted by large driftwood logs along the high tide line. Towards the north of the beach there are several sea stacks which are fun to explore at low tide. We stumbled upon the remains of a baby seal skeleton which was interesting to inspect. Ruby Beach is stunning and rugged, like no other beach I have seen before. The energy here is wild and you will feel completely recharged after your visit.
Ruby Beach to Hoh Rainforest
32 miles / 1 hour
Head north again on highway 101 until you reach Upper Hoh Road on your right. If you are here in the summer time, keep an eye out (on your right hand side) on the way to the visitor center/campgrounds for a pullover where you can view the Hoh River and stop for a swim by a small waterfall. The water is amazingly crystal clear and a magical green color. The water temperature is a little chilly but invigorating. We had so much fun jumping off the rocks and floating on our blow up pool bed.
After cooling off, keep going until you reach the main area for the Hoh Rainforest. If you are spending the night at the campgrounds go and secure yourself a site as they are first come first served. One side of the campground seems a little less shady whilst the campsites at the other end have more cover and privacy. If you get here early enough you may even be able to score a site by the river. All sites have fire pits and picnic tables.
When recalling memories of this place the terms surreal and other worldly come to mind. Mosses and ferns blanket the surfaces of the tree's and forest floor adding to the enchantment of the place.
There are two short loop trails through the forest starting near the Visitor Center; the Hall of Mosses Trail (0.8 miles) and the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles). We also spent time wandering the river bank and attempting to submerge ourselves in the glacial waters. A stay of more than one night is recommended.
Hoh Rainforest to Sol Duc Springs Resort
70 miles / 1.5 hours
We only stopped here briefly. We had plans to soak in the hot springs but we were a little disappointed when we got there as we were expecting something with a little more of a natural setting. However don't let this stop you from having fun, and if you have little ones they will love this place. We ended up buying drinks and lunch from the little store inside and having a picnic out the front under the shade of the tree's. Sol Duc Springs Resort is in a great location and had cute little cabins for overnight stays that looked perfect for getting away from it all. Make sure you go see Sol Duc Waterfalls which is an easy loop hike from the resort. This waterfall fans into two waterfalls and crashed 50 feet into a narrow chasm.
Sol Duc Springs Resort to Crescent Lake
20 miles / 0.5 hours
Crescent Lake is nestled in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains. This lake was a stunning azure blue and sparkled like brilliant diamonds in the sun the day we visited. Situated right on highway 101, every turn on our drive led to another gorgeous view. We pulled over and took some photo's. We did not spend the night here but really wanted to. There are campsites on the west end of the Lake (Fairholme Campground) and we saw many lake side holiday cabins that we longed to stay in.
Crescent Lake to Port Angeles
21 miles / 30 minutes
We took a quick drive through the town of Port Townsend. It was nice to see all the old Victorian architecture which is mainly concentrated in the old downtown area and on the bluff overlooking the harbor.
Port Angeles to Kingston
60 miles / 1.5 hours
Continue to drive on highway 101 around the peninsula and eventually southbound until you reach Road 104. Follow this road until you reach the very end in Kingston. From Kingston you are able to drive onboard the Washington State Ferry service across to Edmonds. The ferry service runs quite regularly and is very reasonably priced (from memory around $17 per car).
While waiting for the ferry you can wander the port and check out a few of the cute nearby stores. We actually wanted to spend the night camping around here but couldn't find a campground that was nearby so decided to head back to Seattle a day earlier than planned. The ferry trip had great views of the Olympic Mountains we left behind and of the Puget Sound area.
Kingston to Seattle
23 miles / 1.5 hours
When you arrive in Edmonds you will once again be back in the world of traffic jams. Make your way back to the I-5 and southbound to Seattle, the final destination. If you did not spend time here before your road trip began then make sure you set aside a day or two to explore this city.
The Seattle waterfront has lovely views of the surrounding bay and offers plenty of seafood restaurants. The Pike Place markets is great to visit also but can be very busy.
Start Planning Your Trip!
Have you booked accommodation yet? If not then take a look at Bookings.com who have a huge selection of hotels, bed & breakfasts, lodges, hostels and even campgrounds. They have daily deals and discounts so its a good idea to keep an eye on rates. The best thing about this website is there is no booking fee and no charge for cancellations.
A good alternative to traditional accommodation is Airbnb. This site connects you with homeowners who rent out their homes/cabins/apartments to you for a fraction of what it would cost for a hotel room. What we like about Airbnb is you get the chance to stay in the local or non-touristy parts of wherever you are going. And if you're new to Airbnb you can get $40 off your fist nights stay!
We prefer Avis for car hire. You save big time if you book online... even if it's only a day in advance. Believe me you will be blown away by how cheap! Click here to see their rates.
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Two Aussies road-tripping across the USA. Our goal is to discover America's wild places and vibrant cities... and make the most of every moment. Read more