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SJ Islands ONP Itinerary

Irvine, California
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SJ Islands ONP Itinerary

We are going to SJ Islands June 18-20 and then ONP (June 20 either Port Townsend or Port Angeles, June 21-25 in ONP) .

I was planning to stay at a B&B in Eastsound on Orcas Island. It sounds less touristy than Friday Harbor but lots of people seem to suggest staying in Friday Harbor and visiting Orcas Island. Why might that be a better option? (FH also seems more expensive than Eastsound). Was planning to visit Moran Park and Mt Constitution.

Is a stay on Orcas Island without a car practical? If we brought the car, could we go Orcas Island to Port Townsend by ferry?

ONP:

Was thinking of staying at Beaver Creek cabins 4 nights and doing the major hikes: Hurricane Ridge enroute to Beaver Creek and on subsequent days Hoh rain forest, Cape Alvara, Sol Duc Falls and maybe Cape Flattery. Should I consider 2 nights somewhere else, maybe Crescent Lake or ???, for variety? Are Beaver Creek cabins suitably central for these hikes? I realize that some of them involve a 1.5 hr drive to trailhead.

What hike would be suitable for our departure day if we want to be at SEA-TAC airport at 3:30 P.M.?

Thanks to all the experts who respond to questions with such individual attention and answers!

Port Townsend...
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for Olympic National Park, Port Townsend
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1. Re: SJ Islands ONP Itinerary

The San Juans are only serviced by ferry from Anacortes or Sydney, BC on Vancouver Island. You cannot go directly to Port Townsend. There is a foot only whale watching boat (once per day) that you can catch from Friday Harbor.

If you plan to visit the San Juans without a car, Friday Harbor is more practical. Orcas really requires a car, certainly if you want to visit Moran SP and Mt. Constitution. How do you plan to get there and then on to your ONP sites without a car?

If you are on the coast and need to be at SeaTac by 3:30, you don't really have time for a hike.

Poulsbo, Washington
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for Olympic National Park
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2. Re: SJ Islands ONP Itinerary

Friday Harbor is more crowded for a good reason. Not much in Eastsound like shops and restaurants. Mt. Constitution is pretty, but no comparison to what you will see from Hurricane Ridge. also on the Westside of San Juan Island you may see whales from the beach. I saw 60 one morning last July. If you want more shops and restaurants then stay in Friday Harbor. Drifting clouds will check n and tell you about getting around the Islands minus a car. You can not get to Port Townsend via the San Juan Islands. Look at Washington state ferries for a map and destinations. You can take the ferry from any of the san Juans to Anacortes and then drive acroos Whidbey Island and take a ferry to Port Townsend. Or you can take a ferry from the SJI to Sydney BC and then get to Victoria and take the Black Ball Ferry to Port Angeles.

For what you have on your wishlist for Olympic, Beaver Creek is a very good location. I have checked them out a couple of times, and it is very nice. Everyone that I have heard back from who has stayed there, loves the place. Hurricane Ridge is the only place that is a bit of a drive from and it is not that bad.

Irvine, California
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3. Re: SJ Islands ONP Itinerary

Thanks.

We are renting a car but I was wondering if it would be practical to leave it at Anacortes while on the island and then return to Anacortes and drive to Port Townsend. Sounds like I should take the car with us.

Poulsbo, Washington
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for Olympic National Park
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4. Re: SJ Islands ONP Itinerary

With that many days on any Island yes take the car!

Port Angeles, WA
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5. Re: SJ Islands ONP Itinerary

Your choice of Beaver Creek as a base is good, given your itinerary. If you go to Cape Alava, make sure you arrive at the trail head 2 hours before low tide. You need to go around many headlands on the water side, and you don't want to try this at higher tides. I agree that on your last day you should head straight to Sea-Tac. You have no time for a hike. The drive to Sea-Tac from the Forks area will take at least 4 hours, and you should be at the airport terminal at least 90 minutes before a domestic flight, 2 hours for an international flight. That means you need to get going early in the morning. Remember, you have to return your rental car, too.

Friday Harbor...
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6. Re: SJ Islands ONP Itinerary

Many people come out here in the summer to the San Juans without taking their car. You can leave it in the parking lots at the Anacortes ferry landing. There are no reservations taken for any ferries to any of the San Juan islands. Allow at least 1.5 - 2 hours driving time from Seattle to Anacortes. 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. Much 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 (and a nice new feature which shows the actual amount of spaces left per vessel sailing for vehicles )is at: …wa.gov/ferries/… If you do take your car with it is wise to always arrive at the ferry landing at least 1 hour in advance and in the summer 90 minutes to 2 hours in advance especially on Friday and the weekend.The San Juan ferries have lots of room for walk-on passengers but the space for cars in limited to under 150 per vessel. I have never heard of a time when walk on passengers did not get aboard the ferry they wanted as long as you are there with enough time to park and purchase a ticket & walk up the ramp to the ship....just be sure you get there with enough time to do that & always plan extra time so as not to be rushed or stressed. WSDOT has multiple lots there for parking. There are additional lots near the Anacortes ferry landing that are not owned by WSDOT and charge a bit less too....at the nearby closed restaurant Charlies right before the ticket kiosks you'll find 3 lots which I've never seen anywhere close to full yet plus the Ship Harbor Inn motel also has a lot or two on the other side of the street from the former Charlie's.

On Orcas island during the summer you can get to most of the popular sights on Orcas using San Juan Transit mini-buses if you go during their normally scheduled dates and days. See their 2013 schedule at www.sanjuantransit.com/orcas-schedule.html until they update their 2014 dates once they re-open their seasonal transit business this year. You can also find more info about them and the couple of taxi services on Orcas at http://orcasislandchamber.com/transportation

Over here on San Juan they run a daily schedule of mini buses during the summer and last year they added a second route even. See their past schedule which should be similar this year at www.sanjuantransit.com/sjischedule1-2013.html

If you are just coming out to the San Juans though without a car it is more convenient to come to San Juan island itself. Here on San Juan island is the largest town in the County, Friday Harbor with a population of just over 2,000 people and the ferry docks right in town. You will find shops, restaurants etc in the town of FH which has many small attractive gift & boutique shops, a wide variety of restaurants, a movie theater, 3 museums, 3 book stores, art galleries, a bowling alley, and neither fast food chains nor traffic lights. There is a nice marina that you can walk through right in town which is busy in the summer and holds many large yachts and sailing boats, and some commercial fishing boats...it's really pleasant walking around there for those who enjoy looking at the boats (and you may well see a heron or two at night). Often you can see a seal hanging around the floating fresh fish market on the docks. The museum most tourists visit in town is The Whale Museum. Info on that is at whalemuseum.org/museum/details/gallery.html This is a nice little museum for learning about whales and orcas in particular. The museum has full-size skeletons of a whale and a variety of other exhibits and interactive displays. You can find more suggestions for things to do in town at: visitsanjuans.com/the-islands/friday-harbor If you don't want to take a car with you to the SJs you can get to most of the most popular tourist spots and hiking trails via the San Juan Transit shuttle in the warm summer month during the day. Links for websites for them and for most of the companies that have services to get people around the island at visitsanjuans.com/getting-here/getting-around

You can find out a lot about the islands including all there is to do here at the many parks at the San Juan Visitor Bureau web site: http://www.visitsanjuans.com/ and there you can check for lodging vacancies on the dates you need (see the form on the right of their main page).

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.

7. Re: SJ Islands ONP Itinerary

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