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ONP and San Juans in one trip?

Neenah, Wisconsin
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ONP and San Juans in one trip?

I'm in the beginning stages of planning a trip next summer (late July or early August) for my husband and me while our kids are at camp. ONP (in particular, the Hoh rainforest) has been a dream for me to visit for a couple of decades. I love to hike, bike, kayak, and sit and watch/listen to the water, especially rivers. My husband enjoys this for 5 days or so, and then is antsy. In the past, I've been able to make our trips longer by combining with things he loves (food, wine, art). For instance, we spent 10 days in NW Oregon by including a few days in the wineries and a few days in Cannon Beach for art/shopping. Same thing with a trip to Maine. From all the reading I've been doing, the Olympic Peninsula seems relatively lacking in food/art/charming towns.

The San Juans look like a great place for us to combine our interests, but I'm really not willing to give up on ONP, and I want to do it well. Rather than staying a week in ONP, I'm considering 5-6 days there, followed (or preceded) by 3-5 days in the San Juan Islands. Is this doable? I realize I could spend a week or more in the islands themselves. Is 3-4 days reasonable, or should we make that a separate trip for (??) in the future? The absolute last thing I want is to have 'seen' it all, but enjoyed none. I can always throw a day or two in Seattle on to a trip to just ONP (we've spent plenty of time there, though none in the past 15 years) for some food, art, etc...

If ONP/SJI combo is advisable, is there an efficient way between the 2 areas? I did a mapquest route search from Port Angeles to Friday Harbor to get an idea, and it included 3 ferries, which I'm assuming would be lots of waiting.

thanks!

San Juan Island...
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1. Re: ONP and San Juans in one trip?

Each of the 3 major ferry serviced islands (San Juan, Orcas and Lopez) in the San Juans have numerous sights of interest to people interested in the outdoors and activities such as hiking, kayaking, taking whale watch boat tours and biking. San Juan island was named #1 island tourist destination for 2013 in the USA by on Tripadvisor and #4 in the whole world. The WA state ferry ride out to the San Juan’s is beautiful and you pass right by many rural, heavily wooded islands on the way. Here is information in detail about the Anacortes ferry terminal and how to get to the ferry landing in Anacortes if you have a car as well as webcams showing you the current car holding lot …wa.gov/ferries/…

Here is a detailed general article on the Islands tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58727-c102104/San-Ju… and also you can find out a lot about the islands including all there is to do here at the many parks and check for lodging vacancies on the dates you will be coming at the San Juan Visitor Bureau web site: http://www.visitsanjuans.com/ And here is a calendar of events for San Juan: http://www.sanjuancalendar.com/

I would advise that you start your 3-5 nights in the San Juans with a few nights out here on San Juan island first. There is much hiking here both in the best know spots like American and English camp (national parks) and Limekiln State Park and in numerous Land Bank properties and other public lands that don't get mentioned much online. Your best chance of seeing orca whales in season (which is considered May through mid Sept.) would be to take a motorized whale watch trip as the whales are more often seen off the west side of SJ Island and into the Canadian Gulf islands. From land orcas can sometimes be seen from a few parks on SJ island, Limekiln and American Camp, but then it’s really a matter of luck and timing. With a car or by shuttle van during their season you could go out to Lime Kiln Point State Park (also known as Whale Watch Park) and nearby the parking lot you could see the attractive lighthouse perhaps having a picnic at the nearby tables. This is a very scenic spot where orca whales can sometimes be seen along the coastline. There are also bald eagles, seals, porpoises, and the occasional minke or grey whale which can at times be seen as well from this park. However a motorized whale watch boat that can cover many dozens of miles in a short time span and has radio communication with all the other whale watch boats gives the best chance of one seeing orcas on a vacation visit. Information on Limekiln Park is at www.parks.wa.gov/parks/… and for whale watch boat tours see visitsanjuans.com/what-to-do/…A6 And for information on the most recently reported sightings in the San Juan islands see this web site: http://www.orcanetwork.org/sightings/map.html

If you want to save yourself a bit of money for the ferries (like $25) then you should go to Orcas island next and then Lopez island if you want as then you won't have to buy another ferry ticket as your still traveling in the same direction. Do note that many lodgings on the island have 2 night minimums in the summer

If you have a car with you and you are out here at the San Juan islands wanting to go to the Olympic peninsula and the Olympic National Park the best route to go & the one we ourselves recommend and always take is the ferry from Coupeville on Whidbey island to Port Townsend. Advance reservations for the Coupeville to PT route are available (and suggested) for that run from the WSDOT website. https:/… Comfortable driving times from the Anacortes ferry dock (including the time to wait unloading the ferry of cars) to the Coupeville ferry dock would take most people about 1 hour 30 minutes or so with the speed of traffic going on the main roads (route 20). The main road on Whidbey is a quite heavily traveled two lane road BTW. Google maps (see https://maps.google.com/maps?q=from:+Coupeville+Ferry+Dock+to:+Ferry+Dock,+Anacortes,+WA&saddr=Coupeville+Ferry+Dock&daddr=Ferry+Dock,+Anacortes,+WA&hl=en&sll=39.131874,-84.516284&sspn=0.007224,0.022767&geocode=FW7a3gId0imw-CHa8tOBPDtswSnN6e31rvOPVDHa8tOBPDtswQ%3BFXNX5AId3-mw-CmXP2uH23mFVDH1hGSmfi3xFw&t=m&z=10) gives the drive time as 55 minutes but much of that is on heavily traveled 2 lane roads, so one can only go as fast as the traffic in front of you.

Poulsbo, Washington
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for Olympic National Park
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2. Re: ONP and San Juans in one trip?

It is doable, but you are the only one who knows if your husband will get antsy on the Olympic Penninsula. If your husband does not want to spen a good deal of time hiking, then 5 or six days may be too much. There are some nice places to kickback, but it sounds like that may not be something he enjoys. It would help me if you told me more about what your husband enjoys doing. Three days may make more sense. Lake Quinault and the Quinault Rainforest along with the Ocean may be a better fit. You can still visit the Hoh. Not everyone sees the magic of our rainforests. I hear it all the time.

Port Angeles, WA
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3. Re: ONP and San Juans in one trip?

I have a much better suggestion. Combine ONP with a multi-day trip to Vancouver Island. You just take the Coho Ferry from downtown Port Angeles, and 90 minutes later you are in the small city of Victoria. Victoria has a superb museum, many restaurants, and other cultural attractions. The real reason I suggest Vancouver Island, however, is that it has developed a terrific food and wine scene centered around the Cowichan Valley. There are vineyards, a wine trail, farm to table restaurants, and beautiful scenery. Do some reading on this and see if it intrigues you and your husband.

Neenah, Wisconsin
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4. Re: ONP and San Juans in one trip?

thanks-both interesyting options i hadnt thought of.

i am not a hard-core hiker, and my husband is happy to accompany me most of the time. he just couldnt sit next to a river for an hour doing nothing the way i love to. i had been thinking a day for hurricane ridge area, a day kayaking/exploring port angeles (dungeness spit walk), and a day for lake crescent area trails. this is probably varied enough for him. then sol duc on the way to forks. explore hoh that day and the next. perhaps explore a beach, but that would be lowest priority.

the quinault area looks lovely. are there any 'charming' towns? we could add a couple days on and then circle back up to seattle.

or, the vancouver island idea intrigues me, kaleberg. my initial reaction was 'no,' as we've been there before. but that was in 1996, in early april, when we had a way stricter budget than now(this will be a splurge vacation). we loved tofino despite (or because of) the stormy weather. somewhere, i even have a receipt for a whale-watching trip, because we didnt get very far out of the harbor back then, and there was a guarantee. not a chance i'd ever find it though, and we've been lucky to have been on spectacularly successful whale trips since. having been to victoria twice, i could skip it altogether, although seeing butchart gardens in summer would be nice. especially if you tell me that there's a food/wine scence in center island. and just the prospect of going back to tofino gives me a smile, and i know my husband would feel the same way. and, it even looks as though we could head back to seattle via washington ferries through the san juan islands!

food for thought.

Edited: 30 October 2013, 01:27
Port Angeles, WA
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5. Re: ONP and San Juans in one trip?

Alas, no charming towns near Lake Quinault. In fact, the few hamlets that exist in the southern part of the park are really depressing. The closest thing to a charming burg in the Olympic Peninsula is Port Townsend, an extremely attractive waterfront town deservedly known for its beautifully preserved Victorian architecture. However, as Glaciermeadow said above, PT is too far from ONP to serve as a base from which to explore the park. Port Angeles, a fairly large town (population 20,000) right at the foot of Hurricane Ridge, is known as the gateway to the park. PA has its points, but no one could call it charming. It's a plain working class community moving slowly toward tourism and yacht building from its old logging base. It has some good restaurants, two excellent wine bars, several worthwhile brew pubs, a great little book store, and a brand new waterfront promenade that makes for a nice place to walk, but it. is. not. charming. Forks is just bleak, although nowhere near as bleak as what you would see in the southern part of the peninsula.

6. Re: ONP and San Juans in one trip?

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