Our trip to the Pacific Northwest this summer checked off two more states, one Canadian province, and two more national parks in an unforgettable nature-filled two week trek. We visited Seattle, Vancouver, Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, Haines, and the Olympic Peninsula.
I would love to take another Alaska cruise, but I think it would have to be on a larger ship. Sure, the Serenade can get into smaller ports that the big ships can’t, but there just wasn’t much going on during the sea days. I would look at ships that were purpose built for Alaska like the Norwegian Bliss that have more indoor areas for people to hang out on sea days.
I definitely want to explore different ports on my next Alaska cruise and I think I would look for a cruise that visits Glacier Bay. I’ve heard that park rangers get on the ship and talk about the nature. And it would cross off another national park! Ketchikan is another Alaska port I really wish we got to see!
I would definitely plan strategically if I ever cruise out of Vancouver again. I would make sure to pick the earliest check in time and arrive maybe even an hour before that. I might even look at cruises that start in Seward (Anchorage, Alaska) before looking at cruises out of Seattle.
You can call me crazy, but I would fly in/out of Seattle for a Vancouver cruise again. Amtrak is running the Cascades route again so the train is an option to get from Seattle to Vancouver again. Yes, it was two additional border crossings, but Quick Shuttle was easy and comfortable and honestly, you can’t beat the price of Greyhound. Is it my new preferred means of travel, no, but it got the job done!
I would definitely wait until later in the season to really get to explore Washington’s National Parks. I really don’t know if I can count visiting Mt. Rainier if I couldn’t see the mountain! I’ve been told the fog is less common later in the summer so that is when I would plan my return trip to the Pacific Northwest.
All-in-all, our 2-week Alaska cruise, Olympic National Park trip was another epic vacation! There were many firsts and experiences I can’t believe we got to do! Where will we explore next? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out!
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.
On our last day in Washington, we had to be out of our AirBNB at 10:00 am, but our flight didn’t leave until 11:00 pm, so we had a full 12 hours to kill. So, we decided to do what any National Park chaser would do with a day in Washington and we headed to Mt. Rainier National Park. Mt. Rainier is a three-hour drive from Port Angeles and an hour and a half from Seatac, so this was definitely a good way to kill time.
At over 14,000 feet above sea level, Mt. Rainier is the tallest peak in Washington State. Mt. Rainier is an active volcano and with its proximity to Seattle, it is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Near Mt. Rainier, I saw a volcano evacuation route sign for the first time. Mt. Rainier became the nation’s 5th National Park in 1899. Popular activities in the park include hiking, biking, and mountain climbing.
Like most of our time in Washington, the fog was so thick on our visit to Mt. Rainier that we couldn’t see it! With limited time to explore the park, we entered the park through the Nisqually entrance and drove to the Henry Jackson Visitor Center, and walked around the historic Paradise Inn (left). Once again, I was blown away by the amount of snow still on the ground in mid-June. There were still feet of snow up there at 5,400 feet above sea level! The Paradise Inn is a beautiful building, built in 1917. The Parkitecture-style of the building reminded me a lot of the Old Faithful Inn. Obviously, with such a short time to explore the park, it barely counts as a visit. I will have to come back later in the season so I can actually see Mt. Rainier!
After leaving Mt. Rainier, we still had extra time before our flight. We didn’t want to head back to downtown Seattle and have to worry about getting in and out of the city so we did some digging and found Kubota Garden in Seatac. It’s not in the nicest part of town and there are signs in the parking lot to keep an eye out for “car prowlers” but there was no one else around when we were there. There are a lot of trails to explore throughout the beautiful garden. It would be a great place to walk around on a sunny summer day. The parking lot is currently under construction and some of the trails are closed which did cause us to get a little lost, but we made it out of the garden and to the airport in enough time for our flight!
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by next week for my final recap of our summer trip to Alaska and Washington! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.
We happened to be in the Olympic Peninsula for my birthday and I wanted to spend it exploring the area outside of Olympic National Park. Sequim (pronounced Squim) is about half an hour’s drive from where we were staying in Port Angeles and it is famous for growing lavender. With the sprawling lavender fields, Sequim is known as the Provence of the United States.
We decided to check out B&B Lavender Farm, Sequim’s largest lavender farm. We got a tour of the farm where they taught us about the different varieties of lavender that they sell. The biggest takeaway for me is that French Lavender is the more fragrant but it’s not good to cook with. English lavender has a better, less-soapy flavor. Our tour guide explained that there is so much moisture in the air on the Olympic Peninsula that after the first two years, they don’t have to water their lavender plants. They showed us the process of how they dry the lavender and remove the stems. They also showed us how they distill their essential oils. I bought so many things in their gift shop! Everyone got lavender souvenirs! It was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend a visit to the B&B Lavender Farm if you are in Sequim. They have an online store if you would like to experience their wonderful lavender products.
After getting our fill of lavender, we headed to downtown Sequim for a wine tasting at Wind Rose Cellars. Wind Rose Cellars focuses on Italian-style wines grown in the Pacific Northwest. Everything we tried there was delicious, but we went home with a bottle of Hunter’s Red.
From there we took a little walk at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge in Sequim. If you walk the whole thing, the Dungeness Spit Trail is 10.2 miles. We just walked a little bit of it to take in the scenery. The trail is very flat but it is sandy so it’s not a totally easy hike.
We ended the day with a wonderful dinner at the John Wayne Marina. You can’t go wrong with the view from the Dockside Grill (above)! All-in-all, it was a wonderful day exploring a new place and learning something new!
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by next week as I recap our day trip to Mt. Rainier National Park! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.
The Hoh Rainforest may be the most iconic ecosystem in Olympic National Park. The otherworldly green landscape has been named a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The forest is made up mostly of Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock trees which can grow over 300 feet tall and six feet in diameter. I haven’t seen California’s giant sequoias or redwoods yet, so the trees in the Pacific Northwest were very impressive to me.
The term rainforest is very fitting here as this area of the park gets an average of 140 inches of rain each year. The almost constant mist in the rainforest accounts for another 30 inches of rain that allows the moss to thrive in clumps hanging off the giant trees.
There are three trails to explore in the Hoh Rainforest area: the popular .8-mile Hall of Mosses Trail, the 1.2-mile-long Spruce Nature Trail, and the 18.5-mile Hoh River Trail. We decided to start with the Spruce Nature Trail and we barely saw other people on this trail. Next, we did the Hall of Mosses Trail which was undoubtedly the more impressively scenic trail, but there were also a lot more people. Altogether, the two trails were only two miles of hiking for the day and I am glad we did both of them.
If you are planning on visiting the Hoh Rainforest, definitely make sure to bring waterproof hiking boots and a good rain jacket. I bought my boots for Alaska, but I really needed the waterproofing for exploring Olympic! You can see the puddles on the trail in the picture on the left.
Thanks for stopping by! Next week I will share about our time exploring Olympic Peninsula outside of the National Park. To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.
Hurricane Ridge is the most easily accessible mountain region in Olympic National Park. It is an easy drive from Port Angeles to get to Hurricane Ridge. We looked at the weather when deciding to visit Hurricane Ridge as we wanted good views of the mountains, but as we discovered in Washington, the weather in one place does not have an impact on another area not that far away. It was sunny when we left Port Angeles but there were moments on Hurricane Ridge road that we could barely see in front of the car. The drive was a little nerve-wracking but luckily it cleared up when we got to the visitor center.
When researching Olympic National Park, we really wanted to do the trail to Hurricane Hill. The paved three-mile out-and-back trail has 700 foot elevation gain and is not for the faint of heart. Unfortunately, we were not able to make it all the way to the top because the last bit of the trail was still snow-covered. We were not prepared for snow hiking. If we had ice cleats and hiking poles we could’ve made it to the top, but regular hiking boots were not substantial enough. Just like at Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier, this Michigander did not expect to find snow on the ground in Washington in mid-June, but I have to remember that it is much colder in the mountains!
On our way back down, we had an animal encounter. Luckily, it was only a deer, but it got surprisingly close to us! This area is home to mountain goats and the trail is actually closed at the end of August for mountain goat management.
If you want to explore the mountains of Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge is the most convenient mountain section. If you want to ascent Hurricane Hill before the end of June, make sure you bring snow gear!
Thanks for stopping by! Next week I will be finishing my Olympic National Park recap, sharing about our experience in the Hoh Rainforest. To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.