SPOT A SPOUT The Olympic Peninsula has plenty of places to potentially see gray, humpback and minke whales, especially near the Pacific coast. In Port Townsend and up near the San Juan Islands, visitors have the same chances of also seeing an orca or two. Spout-spotting chances can be increased by booking whale-watching tours with any one of the local guided boat tour businesses. In Port Townsend, check out Puget Sound Express, which features gray whale tours, San Juan Island tours, Port Townsend tours, Seattle tours and birdwatching and wildlife cruises. The Port Angeles Whale Watch Co. offers 4- to 5-hour tours in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from May through October. The Whale Trail, steered by a collaboration of government and state agencies, passes through the Olympic Peninsula, offering a series of sites where the public can catch a glimpse of different species of whales. Sites include Dosewallips State Park along the Hood Canal, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, Freshwater Bay County Park in Port Angeles and the Sekiu Overlook. Head to the West End of the Peninsula, visit First Beach, Rialto Beach, Kalaloch Beach or Cape Flattery for a chance to see whales. Visit whaletrail.org for more sites and information. Don’t forget to grab your camera for your spout-spotting travels! While a camera with a telescope lens would be best to get that up-close shot from a distance, a basic DSLR camera and lens should do the trick should you encounter a few spy-hopping whales. GRAY WHALES AT FIRST BEACH, LA PUSH
HALL OF MOSSES, HOH RAIN FOREST
ROLLICK IN THE RAIN FOREST
Is your dream to a see a rainforest in your lifetime? You’re in luck here on the Olympic Peninsula. The Hoh Rainforest is the best place to experience towering bigleaf maples and Sitka spruces, lush ferns, delicate lettuce lichen and spongy moss among the winding trails. The Hall of Mosses is a short rainforest loop from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center — which boasts new exhibits — in Olympic National Park. Look for animals — Roosevelt elk, banana slugs, black-tailed deer and many others — as you walk this loop, which is less than a mile round trip.
HIKE THE RIDGE One of the most iconic vistas of the Olympic Peninsula is Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge (p. 24). With Port Angeles as its base camp, Hurricane Ridge is worth the car ride to the top, where you’ll be greeted by amazing overlooks and a visitor center. Take your time as you hike multiple trails, from ridge-top traverses to steep trails that descend to subalpine lakes and valleys. Stop and smell the wildflowers, and take note of the other amazing flora. Be on the lookout for black-tailed deer, mountain goats, an array of insects, Olympic marmots and gray jays (p. 21). Looking to camp nearby? The nearest campground is Heart o’ the Hills campground. Open year-round, Heart o’ the Hills has 105 campsites in an old-growth forest. Hurricane Ridge is 17 miles south of Port Angeles on Hurricane Ridge Road, off Mount Angeles Road.