Unless you were paying close attention, you probably have never heard of Port Angeles and have no idea of just what is in its vicinity. Port Angeles is a town on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, just outside of Olympic National Park. It is a place of amazing beauty, even if it is lacking in certain amenities. For the purposes of our reviews, Port Angeles is in the vicinity of:
This part of the world is so beautiful that it caused us to sell our house back East, abandon beloved New York, and buy a house in Port Angeles, ten minutes outside the Olympic Peninsula National Park. You must check this place out. Port Angeles is a plain-as-a-post former logging town in a magnificent setting on the Straits of San juan de Fuca immediately across from Victoria, BC. The town is still largely undiscovered except as a gateway either to the park or to Victoria. Most of the tourists looking for charm head to nearby Port Townsend, which is both unique and lovely, but Port Angeles grows on you.
For one thing, this is a real town, not some kind of touristy Potemkin village like Victoria. (Sorry, we love Vancouver Island, just not Victoria - a tourist trap with flower baskets). Port Angeles has good restaurants, including at least one gem, comfortable, reasonably priced lodgings, a super general store, and a real sense of community. And of course, there are the parks, both national and local.
And what parks! Wild, misty, empty beaches reached by long walks through rain forests. Sunny, sandy, beaches shaped like enormous sickles. Driftwood, nesting bald eagles, sea stacks covered with wild strawberries. Sea otters and baby seals. On one of our favorite beaches, Cape Alava, near Lake Ozette, deer love to lie around on the beach and soak up the rays. The are so tame that the does will let you get close to their fawns. Don't touch, however, otherwise Bambi's mom might turn into Godzilla before your very eyes.
Nor are the beaches the only attraction, or even, the greatest attraction. The Olympic Peninsula is covered by magnificent rainforests. Wild rivers of an unearthly chalky blue roar down from glaciers through stands of enormous ancient trees. Elk, bears, cougars and salmon abound. One such forest, the Hoh Rainforest, is a World Heritage site, recognized as one of the world's most unusual and beautiful places.
The glaciers, for their part, live high in the mountains that fringe the park. There one can find hiking trails that can lift the soul to Nirvana and can lower the LDL and the blood pressure to Dr. Atkins territory.
The most accessible entrances to the park are right outside Port Angeles, which itself is about a three hour drive from Seattle. Don't try to do it in a day trip; stay at least three nights in P.A. so that you can sample the rainforest one day, the mountains another, and the beaches a third. If you possibly can, stay for at least one week. Base yourself in Port Angeles rather that Sequim or Port Townsend; the driving time you spend getting to the park could be spent picniking, swimming, or hiking. See below for where to stay, where to eat, where to shop, and what to do.
© Copyright Kaleberg Symbionts 2000-2008