Washington’s Rain Forest Peninsulas
Exploration and adventure are never-ending on Washington’s Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas. The incredible Olympic Mountains sit in the center of the peninsulas, producing the state’s wettest climate in the famous Olympic National Park and Hoh rain forest on the western coast and its driest climate on the Northern side facing Victoria, Canada. Explore the charming and humble cities like Forks, Port Angeles, Sequim and Port Townsend, spread across this vast region. Each town provides sensational farm to table culinary delights, art galleries, and cultural & historic festivals and sites. Majestic beaches, a 122 mile long Olympic Discovery Trail, lavender farms, berry picking, wine and cider tasting, and abundant wildlife are found throughout the Peninsula. “Twilight” fans come for the vampire haven of Forks and stay for the vast beauty and enchantment of this treasured region. Hurricane Ridge, the second most visited site in Washington’s Olympic National Park, is a close drive from Port Angeles, open to hiking, snowboarding and skiing.
The rural community of Forks, Washington, is the heart of the west side of the Olympic Peninsula.
Forks is conveniently located near the Olympic Mountains, Pacific Ocean beaches and forested river valleys that are quintessentially Washington. You might recognize the scenery from the incredibly popular vampire saga, “Twilight,” which had so much success that Forks hosts an annual festival in its honor. Aside from Twilight-themed entertainment, this town has a bright community, rich history and awe-inspiring natural resources. Additionally, it’s very close to the most famous and breathtaking beaches of the Olympic National Park including ShiShi, Rialto and Third Beach, as well as the Hoh River and Sol Duc River, which are recognized by our INNSiders as some of the top fly fishing rivers in the state in this article. Our INNSiders also have an incredible list of day hikes in the area you don’t want to miss.
It has a mild climate with daytime summer highs reaching around 70 degrees and summer nighttime lows around 50. In the winter, daytime highs reach the mid-40s and nighttime lows are mid-30s. As part of the rainforest peninsula region, Forks receives an average of 120 inches of rain a year and during the summer it averages about 2.5 inches per month.
Forks is located on the northwest tip of Washington state. Travel time from Seattle is approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes and may include catching the Bainbridge Island Ferry from downtown.
Within minutes of Forks are 200 miles of wild rivers. This is an ideal area for salmon and steelhead sports fishing, rafting and kayaking. V
Olympic National Park and National Forest lands provide countless hiking trails for both novice and experienced hikers.
The nearby Pacific Beaches beg to be explored. These beaches are favorites for beach combing and hiking. The beaches at La Push have long been favored places for whale watching.
Additions and improvements to the Olympic Discovery Trail will eventually provide a bike trail from Port Townsend to Forks and LA Push. Many sections are currently open and make for scenic bike rides.
The Hoh Rainforest, one of the largest temperate rain forests in the continental US is a short, scenic 45-minute drive from Forks.
Forks has three main festivals during the year. In April, Forks is host to Rainfest. This is a celebration of the arts in the community, especially quilting. In October, Forks Heritage Days gives old timers a chance to reminisce about the community’s past. They celebrate the rich heritage of logging, mill working and fishing. Heritage Days include a smoked fish and brew contest.
Forks Old Fashioned Fourth of July, the largest celebration of the year, includes a parade, salmon bake, demolition derby and fireworks.
Fans of author Stephanie Meyer, visit to discover the Forks, Washington captured in the popular “Twilight” book series. The National Geographic Channel’s “Legend of Mick Dodge” has also captured the attention of the public.The Miller Tree Inn, located in downtown Forks offers an authentic upscale farmhouse experience. They are also the Twilight “experts”.
Arts and Entertainment
Port Angeles & Sequim
Located in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, Port Angeles and Sequim feature majestic forests and serene beaches. Home to the Olympic National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site packed with opportunities for outdoor recreation, these stunning cities will capture your heart.
Port Angeles is perched on the northern shore between the mountains and the Salish Sea. East of Port Angeles you'll find the charming city of Sequim. Both of these beautiful towns are located on the doorstep of the Olympic National Park, where nearly one million acres of stunning beauty and old-growth forest await you. There are plenty of things to do in Port Angeles and the surrounding area - it's a paradise for hikers, kayakers, and mountain bikers, ready to capture the hearts of all who adventure there. Enjoy expansive views of the Salish Sea and scenic beaches overlooking the Pacific Ocean too. The region that Port Angeles and Sequim sit closely together in are prime locations for recreation on water and land. If you prefer to explore the urban side of things, you will find plenty of local art, museums, self-guided tours and music to enjoy. You will enjoy excellent craft breweries, wineries and venues and venues serving up fresh, locally harvested cuisine from area farms and waters. Offering endless scenic beauty and cultural significance, prepare to be enthralled by these incredible cities in the rain forest peninsulas.
Begin your visit to the Olympic Peninsula by visiting Hurricane Ridge.Take the scenic 17-mile drive to the most easily accessible mountain area in Olympic National Park. On a clear day, the views are spectacular. Enjoy traversing the ridges along one of the hiking trails, or stop at a picnic area and have lunch with a view. The road is open throughout the summer and scheduled to be open Friday-Sunday in the winter months, weather permitting.
The Olympic Peninsula is home to green forests, snow capped mountains and expansive water views. Some of the WaINNSider member inns in the area sit on the bluff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. From here you can relax in the evening and watch the lights of Victoria, BC.
Those who like to bike or hike can access the 120 mile long Olympic Discovery Trail from access points within 1 mile of member inns, various other access points along the trail, and even the Port Angeles City Pier. From downtown Port Angeles, the trail extends 7 miles west to the Elwha River and ultimately all the way to Lake Crescent and Forks.
Cape Flattery: It is a two-hour drive from Port Angeles to Cape Flattery. The trip is well worth it. Cape Flattery is the northwestern most point of the contiguous U.S. and home to the Makah tribe. Most visitors come to hike the popular 1.5-mile trail at Cape Flattery. This well maintained trail winds through old growth forest and along the water affording breathtaking views as well as the chance to view abundant wildlife. While there, visit Neah Bay and learn about the Makah Tribe at the Makah Cultural and Research Center.
Elwha River: The Elwha River is the largest watershed of the Olympic Mountains and is less than 15 minutes from downtown Port Angeles. The valley has a very short hike to Madison Fall or longer day hikes along the river's edge to the old dam site and Olympic Hot Springs.
Lake Crescent: A short 30-minute drive from downtown Port Angeles is Lake Crescent, a pristine glacier-fed lake with waterfall and old growth forest hikes and water recreation.
Victoria, BC is a short 75-minute ferry ride from downtown Port Angeles via the Blackball Ferry Line. The ferry makes it easy to visit historic Victoria. Spend the day in this very walk able city enjoying historic architecture, beautiful gardens and a large variety of delightful restaurants and quaint shops. Butchart Gardens is a must see and easily accessible by the Butchart Gardens Shuttle Express Bus. Return to the Port Angeles/Sequim area in the evening.
Hike, Bike and Walk
Port Townsend, a historic seaport town is in the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula. It is known for it's many Victorian style homes.
Port Townsend WA is a picturesque historic seaport on the Olympic Peninsula. It is surrounded by water and mountains. Therefore,Port Townsend is an ideal home base for exploring the Olympic National Park. The historic district is filled with vibrant independently-owned shops, galleries and restaurants. Downtown is gentile today compared to its rough-and-tumble waterfront heritage. Tall ships no longer line the bay, but you may catch sight of classic wooden schooners under full sail.
Uptown is home to classic Victorian mansions as well as other unique architecture. Stay at The Old Consulate Inn. This beautifully restored Victorian home was built in 1889. For a different experience, stay at the Ravenscroft Inn B&B. The b&b was designed as a Charleston single. It sports an elegant veranda with sweeping views.
Experience wine & cider touring, whale watching, hiking and cycling.There is always music in Port Townsend. Popular events include the world class jazz, blues and fiddle festivals. Port Townsend is a mecca for wooden boat enthusiasts. Visit she Wooden Boat Festival and the annual gathering of vessels in September. Visit Fort Worden State Park and the historic Point Wilson Lighthouse.
The town has about 9000 permanent residents. Weather is mild year around. Summertime average high temperate is 71 degrees Fahrenheit. Wintertime average low temperature is near 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The town is shielded by the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and averages 19.1 inches of precipitation.
Arrive by car or car ferry from Seattle, Olympia, the San Juan Islands, or Victoria B.C. Travel time from Seattle is 2 hours and 15 minutes when traveling by ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge. It is about the same travel time on driving around the southern end of the hood channel from SEATAC airport.
Arts and Entertainment
Port Ludlow is a small village nestled on the banks of the Hood Canal, and is uniquely positioned as the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula.
Boasting its own 300+ slip marina, championship golf course, 30+ miles of hiking trails, and spectacular views, Port Ludlow is also an easy drive to the Olympic National Park, Ludlow Falls, wine and cider tasting, and local farms that provide area restaurants with the freshest of ingredients.
Bremerton is a short one-hour ferry ride from Seattle and is located on a beautiful protected harbor on the Puget Sound.
The town has a rich naval history and is home to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Downtown includes the charming Harbor Front area as well as the Arts District.
Keyport is a small town located on the Kitsap Peninsula.
Keyport is a tiny town, created around a small Navy Weapons station. The town sits on Liberty Bay. This is a small, out of the way destination with one restaurant and a great local general store.
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