In August of 2021 I went to see Olympic National Park in WA. A week spent on the WA peninsula was too much to comprise a single post, so I divided it in two:
Prologue: Kalaloch WA north to Forks WA, and a bit about Queets and such south of Kalaloch
Queets, Ashenbrenner, South Beach, Kalaloch area, Ruby Beach, Bogachiel State Park
Queets, Ashenbrenner picnic spot, and South Beach are all actually south of Kalaloch. According to the literature, the map, and ranger, Queets wasn't the right adventure for me—it’s an iffy area to travel for the less-than-intrepid, and I had too much else to explore. I took a few photos and let that be enough.
Ashenbrenner Picnic Area is about 3 mi north of Queets, at the entrance of South Beach WA. I didn’t see picnic tables from the parking, but from the satellite it looks like a grassy strip through the forest, not wheelchair friendly. The popularity of South Beach is easy to understand, as the view of the ocean is terrific; it’s not a large campground and doesn't have accessible facilities. For the rest, see links and photos below.
Queets, South Beach, Kalaloch & more campgrounds
Forks WA--including Rialto Beach, Mora Campground, and La Push
I suppose technically Forks might not be considered a coastal town. It doesn’t have a harbor, it's more of a timber town. But the beaches are not that far away, beside the Hoh Rainforest. Things to know: Forks motels fill up fast (one suggested trying La Push if you're in a spot), you can access free Wifi in the parking behind the library, and Forks has a small airport across from the Forks Timber Museum next to the Visitor Center/Chamber of Commerce. Tillicum Park offers a day full of family fun, and Calawah River Park at the north end of Forks (on the south bank of the river) offers a place for pets to run unleashed, as well as for boats to launch. Outdoor recreational outfitters, tours, and guides are available in Forks.
Rialto Beach near Forks WA
Mora Campground WA
I ended up in a little emergency situation and was able to car camp at Mora Campground (all the accommodations in Forks full), as well as recharge my cell phone (in the restroom) . . . so grateful to the rangers at Mora, and thankful for the providential provision.
La Push WA
North of the bridge at the north end of Forks WA Hwy 110 heads west out to La Push, and forks to Mora Campground and Rialto Beach. You can get supplies along the way, or you can get them at La Push. Nearly 40 years before this trip to La Push we stayed over a night or two there. The facilities at that time weren't particularly impressive, but I was favorably impressed with what I saw this time. The RV spots had thoughtful rail fences delineating the spots, beside the other niceties and amenities.
Port Angeles WA--with brief mention of the Olympics
You might say Port Angeles is a city set upon the hills—where the foothills of the Olympics come to meet the coastal waters that divide the US and Canada (the Straits of Juan de Fuca): an arm of the ocean that reaches around to Seattle’s Puget Sound, elbows down to Tacoma, and fingers even to Olympia WA. The Olympic mountains are an ever-present sight from Port Angeles and Sequim, and from their foothills so is the astounding vantage of that salty waterway. From Port Angeles you can be awed by the mountain grandeur of Hurricane Ridge, partake of the Port’s life, take a ferry to Canada’s Vancouver Island—though COVID precautions prevented my hoped-for Victoria BC side trip in Aug of 2021. I stayed 3 nights at the Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles while I surveyed PA plus nearby Sequim (about 15 mi to the east) and its environs.
For more info and photos of the Olympics, see
Kids 14 and under can fish at Lincoln Park Pond, catch and releasehttps://www.cityofpa.us/Facilities?clear=False
Olympic Lodge https://www.olympiclodge.com/
Olympic Lodge, Port Angeles WA
Olympic National Park is just up the mountains from Port Angeles
cool 3 min video
The Olympics from Port Angeles WA
Lauridsen Blvd, Port Angeles
Race Street, Port Angeles WA
various landmarks in Port Angeles WA
Pier & Port, wharf & waterfront, Port Angeles WA
Sequim WA--including Dungeness Spit, John Wayne Marina, Sequim Bay State Park, Jamestown/Blyn, and Discovery Bay
Sequim Prairie, as it was called, was not the first choice of homesteaders in the 1800s, my grandfather told me. The homesteaders chose first the fertile and well-watered valleys in the foothills of the Olympics. My grandfather’s grandparents came in the early 1890s, and he lived in the area most of his nearly 99 years, raised his family there (my dad and siblings). We loved to visit whenever we could. I even lived there for about a year during a transitional phase of my life. Come see how much Sequim has to offer!
In the late 1900s word of Sequim’s mild climate in the rain shadow of the Olympics made it blossom as a place to retire. Sequim Prairie has changed a lot in the last 30 odd years.
A word about the Olympic Discovery Trail that offers a paved way for hiking and wheeling from Port Townsend to La Push on the Pacific Ocean. Although many signs along Hwy 101 indicate that it is wheelchair accessible, it’s not entirely. A thorough survey and mapping of wheelchair appropriate parts, both motorized and manual, would be helpful, but the second link below gives some textual descriptions. Below are a few photos I took as I crossed intersections with the Olympic Discovery Trail.
What to do in Sequim, concerts, festivals/events, including the 126+ year Irrigation Festival
Regional TransitThe Chamber of Commerce is on the east end of the city (see photos below).
Olympic Game Farm--free-roaming fotos; fencing obscured the camera's capture of caged carnivores, and I had to roll up my windows or some of the herbivores would just about climb in the car to get free food! You can buy bread there, but can't bring your own. With windows up I had reflective issues.
Carrie Blake Park and Haller Playfields, et al
John Wayne Marina (John Wayne's Waterfront Resort)
Sequim Bay State Park
Jamestown/Blyn, Discovery Bay, Gardiner, Miller Peninsula State Park, Diamond Point
Dungeness, Railroad Bridge Park, and views from the north and west of Sequim proper
Dungeness village, 3 Crabs Rd, Cline Spit/Marine Dr
views of the Olympics from Lotzgesell Rd
A bit further west on Lotzgesell Rd from the turn to Dungeness Rec area it intersects with Kitchen-Dick Rd which connects with Hwy 101. A short drive west from that intersection is Dryke Rd to the north, access to Robin Hill Farm County Park . . . hiking amid the forest, "rolling meadows", ponds, and the Olympic Discovery Trail. See
Dungeness Recreation Area and Dungeness Wildlife Refuge
Railroad Bridge Park and vicinity
Sequim Ave off Washington St has several places of note: Sequim Civic Center and the public restroom/parking across from it, Sequim Museum & Arts, Sequim HS complex (including the old historic HS building), a branch of North Olympic Library System, 6 churches at least, and becomes Sequim-Dungeness Way to the village of Dungeness. Before reaching Dungeness, E Anderson Rd heads west, from which you can take Lotzgesell Rd to reach the Olympic Game Farm (via Ward Rd), Dungeness Recreation Area and Dungeness Wildlife Refuge (via Voice of America Rd).
Sequim has many accommodations, some with restaurants within rolling/strolling. A few are pictured below. Not pictured is the Olympic View Inn (good reviews); for years it was the Red Ranch Inn.
https://olympicviewinn.com/ click on “Sequim” to see 4 good videos of things to do
Sequim revisited, June 2022
An unexpected family circumstance brought me back to Sequim, so I availed myself the opportunity to take more photos of the town, as well as my accommodations and chance to try the Big Elk Restaurant that had intrigued me before. I wheeled a mile each way up and down Washington (the main street); the south side is less unfriendly for a wheelchair. Though mostly flat (except some driveways), I was glad enough to have an electric chair. Big Foot waves from Jungle Jane's on S. 9th Ave.
On the drive up to Sequim I took the Tacoma Narrows bridge to Gig Harbor (no toll that direction), but decided to return south via Hwy 101 down the Hood Canal. It's a pretty drive even in the rain and fog, with some cute little towns such as Quilicene and Hoodsport (as well as State Parks & recreation), but I was too tired to stop for photos. An added benefit of going that way is not having to pay the toll to cross the bridge. Google said travel time was about the same, but that may depend on whether you get behind a slow logging truck. Don't be in a hurry to rush out of the allure of the Pacific Northwest. An additional plus for me is that driving south on that stretch is on the uphill side rather than the Hood Canal side of the snaky narrow road.
The Big Elk Restaurant, Sequim WA
I bought the real elk burger, and it was big and delicious. Of course I got clam chowder. Succumbed to temptation and got a slice of cheesecake and strawberry rhubarb pie--ok, but not made in house.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 1441 E Washington Street (east edge of town), Sequim WA
It wasn't easy, especially at the last minute, to find ADA accommodations with a roll-in shower in Sequim. The Holiday Inn was pleasant (though I wasn't crazy about the wallpaper in the hallways), had various amenities such as for business meetings and so forth. A nice rooftop garden patio with bistro tables and a shelter. Pool, exercise room, laundry with front load washer (only the 2nd hotel I've seen with such, for the sake of persons in a wheelchair). I got a double queen ADA with roll-in shower, which also had a fold-out couch. It was nice to have covers that actually covered my shoulders at night. Big frig and freezer. Friendly and helpful staff--I had to have them close the curtains for me (furniture in the way), move the microwave so I could reach it, and put the hand-held shower in reach. They brought some shampoo etc to the room because those on the wall of the shower were not amenable to a person in a wheelchair. The manager was anxious for my input for upcoming remodels, which was very encouraging. Breakfast ends early, 9am! Encouraging one to go:
Right next to the Holiday Inn is the Black Bear Diner with beauteous landscaping and outdoor dining.
I've been in a wheelchair for 30+ years. It poses some challenges for traveling. Maybe others can benefit from my experiences.