Olympic National Park, WA

Saturday, August 27, 2022

While on the road we take a side trip to Lake Quinault. It is located in the glacial-carved Quinault Valley of the Quinault River, at the southern edge of Olympic National Park in the northwestern United States.

One of the most dominant features of Lake Quinault is its location within the Quinault Rain Forest. Lake Quinault is owned by the Quinault Indian Nation. The southern side of the lake is home to the historic Lake Quinault Lodge.

The Lake Quinault Lodge was built in 1926, designed by Robert Reamer whose work included the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. The lodge was built in 53 days. It features a chimney decorated with a totem pole-shaped rain gauge that measures rainfall in feet. Although most appreciate the vintage architecture and decor some feel it old and stuffy. Humph.

Downtown Quinault, WA

We stop for the night in Forks (3800 souls) at Forks 101 RV Park. The park offers spacious sites and plenty of room to walk the mutzos. Welcome to Forks “The rainiest town in the contiguous United States” with 120″ of precipitaion a year. The Forks area is an outdoorsman’s dream with over 100 miles of saltwater shores, alpine meadows and rain forest valleys. 200 miles of wild rivers criss-cross the region, providing healthy runs of wild salmon and steelhead. Its close to Olympic National Park, Rialto Beach, Hoh Rainforest and Olympic National Park. Forks is the only full service city on the west side of Olympic National Park on US Highway 101.

On Thursday we proceed up the road toward Port Angeles. We are staying at Elwha Dam RV Park. The park is located next to the former site of the Elwha Dam with was removed in 2014. The dam was completed in 1913 to provide electric power to the region.

Looking around Elwha Dam RV Park

The Glines Canyon Dam completed 14 years later did the same. The two dams no longer provided enough power, caused harm to the salmon fishery and erosion at the mouth of the river. It was decided to remove both dams. The Elwha and Glines Canyon Dam was removed in 2014 as part of an ecosystem restoration project.

If you look at the Port Angeles (0ver 20,000 souls) website there is a section labeled “331 things to do”. Well, we don’t have time to do many of those things but we’ll give it a whirl. The city’s harbor was dubbed Puerto de Nuestras Senora de los Angeles (Port of Our Lady of the Angels) by Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza in 1791 and later shortened to Port Angeles. Port Angeles is the birthplace of football hall of famer John Elway. Ferry service is provided across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on the MV Coho.

Clallam County Courthouse

A small whaling, fishing and shipping village developed in the mid 19th century which traded with Victoria, BC. Shortly after the US Customs Port of Entry was changed from Port Townsend to Port Angeles which greatly affected its economy. Salmon Chase succeeded in getting President Abraham Lincoln to designate 3200 acres at Port Angeles as a federal reserve for lighthouse, military and naval purposes. The Army Corps of Engineers platted a federal town site, laying out the street plan which still exists today. The city’s popularity sank for a short time then was revitalized in the 1880’s. It was incorporated in 1890 and named seat of Clallam County. Large scale logging began in 1914 and a railway was brought in.

Sights in Port Angeles Harbor

The opening of the Hood Canal Bridge brought an increasingly important cog to the economy- tourism. By 1997 all saw and pulp mills were closed. During construction of the Hood Canal Bridge human remains and artifacts were discovered- “the largest prehistoric Indian Village and burial ground found in the United States”. In 2016 Port Angeles installed street signs in English and Klallam to revitalize and preserve the area’s Klallam culture.

Beautiful Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park

This northern area of the Olympic Peninsula is located in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Average rainfall is 25 inches as compared to areas to the west having rainfall totals of over 120 inches and Seattles 38 inches. Port Angeles is the headquarters of Olympic National Park, established in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

We took a long, windy drive up to Hurricane Ridge doing our best not to run over a multitude of ambitious bike riders. Those folks are in for an 18 mile uphill grind and I’m glad I’m not one of them. The speed limit is posted at 35 mph but most of the turns towards the top are much less than that. Elevation change is nearly 5000′ in that 18 miles and it’s all uphill. Hurricane Ridge is a popular place to view the Olympic Mountains within the national park. So popular that the only available bathrooms literally had lines out the door of the building. The view from the ridge is spectacular and difficult to capture on “film”. We ooed and awed for a while, admiring the view, then found an area suitable for the mutzos to stretch- away from the throng of visitors. If you decide to go to Hurricane Ridge its a good idea to check the NPS web cam up there before going as it can be socked in with clouds limiting the view tremendously.

We’ll be taking US Highway 101 to its northern terminus in Tumwater, Washington- yes, “Its the Water” Tumwater, then head south on I-5 to Castle Rock for a few days.

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