Olympic Peninsula

An Olympic experience in Washington

by Kyle E.

3 people, 1,700 miles, 7 days

Washington state is great because it gives you a chance to see everything: coast, mountains, rainforest, metropolis, lakes, waterfalls. We wanted to see it all, so my friends and I went to the Olympic Peninsula and the Northern Cascades in Washington. It was a travelers’ paradise.

We awoke for our flight to Seattle early, then went to go pick up Rebecca’s Land Rover Discovery, and the three of us made our way to the eastern side of the peninsula via ferry to start our trip off at Lake Cushman.

A glacial lake surrounded by cascading mountains, Cushman was an early indicator of what we were getting into for the following week. We lost half a day of our trip backtracking to the ferries to pick up a bag I had accidentally left. But it wouldn’t be an adventure if nothing goes awry!

We made our way to Lake Crescent for the morning of our third day on the trip. The classic Pacific Northwestern rain came in droves as we hiked through mossy rainforest to catch a glimpse of Marymere Falls. Soaked, we made our way back to the car and continued around Lake Crescent until stopping for a late breakfast in Sappho.

The coast was next on our list. We bobbed and weaved through some winding roads until we made our way to Cape Flattery — the most northwestern point of the continental United States. Justin had never seen the ocean before, let alone even been to Washington, so it was a pretty special moment for him.

Our last day on the coast started out in Forks, Washington, the moody setting of the Twilight books and movies. The beginning of a sunrise greeted us on our departure from our cabin as we headed for La Push. After a brisk hike to Second Beach to catch the tail end of sunrise, we inched our way down the coast — stopping at multiple turnouts to gawk at the incredible beaches that lined the coast.

The day ended with a loop of Lake Quinault and a magnificent sunset to closet it out. We stopped at a lodge in the town of Quinault and found the best BBQ wings you can get anywhere, before driving up to Arlington to meet up with another friend.

The next day was filled with fairy tale cabins and overwhelming mountain views of Diablo Lake, as we pressed on with a group of five now. We paddled the kayak around for a bit before watching the sunset from the lookout point on the lake.

More cabins and a trip into the Cascades to view the crystal clear waters of Lake Wenatchee consumed our entire sixth day of the trip. The best part of our day was getting to spend it with so many talented photographers. Our group was up to seven for the day. With so much driving and places to see packed into one day, we ran out of daylight before hitting all of them. Luis had to leave our trip early, but Justin and I trekked on for our final day in Washington.

Our last day in the PNW was spent exploring a few forest roads and the area surrounding the Mountain Loop Highway. We went from a warm, foggy rainforest in the morning to an iced over mountain side in the evening. The contrast for how quickly the conditions could change was amazing! Our trip concluded the next day with Justin and I flying back to chilly Wisconsin. We’ll miss Washington every day until we return, Rebecca’s trusty Land Rover too.

Editor’s note: This trip took place in 2017. To help scratch that travel itch and fuel your daydreams, we’ll be republishing some of our favorite Travelogues from the past.