photography

Your Best 6 Days In Washington

By: Danielle Peterson

If your looking for the perfect itinerary to escape to the Pacific Northwest, you've come to the right place. I've done all the research and experienced first hand the ultimate trip that YOU DEFINITELY DON'T WANT TO MISS. 

Washington state is considered the heart of the Pacific Northwest, and also takes the title of my new favorite state. I instantly fell in love with the diverse landscape, including the bustling seaport city of Seattle and expansive Olympic National Park, in which you can explore three distinct ecosystems;  temperate rain forest, rugged Pacific shore and mountains/meadows. 

I’ve put together an itinerary for those who only have 3 days to explore Olympic National Park. And for those lucky enough to have a bit more time, I’ve added on some extra bonus days for you, and I promise, you’ll want to see this trip out to the very end.

 

Olympic National Park in 3 Days

Day 1: Hurricane Ridge , Marymere Falls and Lake Crescent

Hurricane ridge is located 17 miles from Port Angelus.  The trails offer views of glacier-clad mountains showcasing viewpoints of Olympic Mountain and the Olympic Peninsula coastline. Chipmunks, ground squirrels, marmonts and black tailed deer wander the ridge, and we saw all of them.

After hiking Hurricane Ridge, we drove to Lake Crescent, a 624-foot deep shimmering glacier-carved jewel. You can stroll the shore, or rent rowboats at Lake Crescent Lodge (where accommodation are also available).  Because the water was choppy, we didn't go boating, but  instead enjoyed a DELICIOUS lunch right at the lodge with views of the lake.  **The food was absolutely amazing, and it was a great time to rest after the hours of hiking we did at Hurricane Ridge.

Follow the signs to Marymere Falls from Lake Crescent Lodge and enjoy a short hike to the 90-foot waterfall. This was a must for me, as I'm a waterfall lover, and the walk to get there was easy and beautiful.

Accomodations: If you are up for adventure, I highly recommend couchsurfing at Lonnies which is located in Port Angelus. Port Angelus is a great base point for your first day visiting Olympic National Park. We stayed two nights at Lonnies : The night we landed in Washington and after Day 1 of hiking Hurricane Ridge. Lonnie is a wonderful man who has built cabins for travelers who come to experience Olympic National Park. He has hosted over 600 travelers over the past couple of years. Staying is free, just sign up on couchsurfing.com. (You will find his profile once you search hosts in Port Angelus.) However, come ready to share stories, laughter, wine and bonfires with Lonnie himself.  It is the ultimate adventure, and a great way to start the trip. Families or individual travelers are all welcome. The night I was there there were 9 people total, and yes there is room for everyone! A great way to meet other travelers and share your tales of adventure. 

****We flew into Seattle, rented a car (NECESSARY FOR THIS ITINERARY) and drove to Port Angelus, where we stayed the night.  Drive time from Seattle Airport to Port Angelus is about 2.5-3 hours. We took the route south through Tacoma as we didn’t want to deal with crossing the ferry/lines at ferry, etc. So Day 1 starts our first day in the park, but technically second day in Washington.****

 

 

Day 2- Hoh Rainforest and Sunset at Rialto Beach

The morning of Day 2 we woke up and after Lonnie shared some of his fresh farm eggs with us, and then we were on our way to drive to the Hoh Rainforest. The drive time from Port Angelus to the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center is about 1 hour 50 minutes.

We spent the day exploring the moss-draped maples, Douglas-firs and Sitka spruce trees. This temperate rain forest receives over 12 feet of rain a year, and hiking the trails is nothing short of spectacular. The emerald and mossy greens create a canopy above you as the sun peaks through highlighting the trails in front of you.

 

Accomodation: Manitou Lodge Bed and Breakfast.

*It is best to call or reserve reservations ahead of time*

After hiking we went to check in at Manitou. All of the lodge rooms were full, so we ended up renting one of their campsites. Glamping at it’s finest. We arrived and our campsite was already pitched. Blown up mattresses, carpets in the tent with a table and lamp, warm blankets and a campfire with complimentary smores kit. This was my kind of camping. I actually preferred staying in the campsite than inside the lodge. The campsite is pitched right in the forest, surrounded by the massively tall trees, with the sound of nature around you.

 

After getting settled in, we headed to Rialto Beach, which is only three miles from Manitou Lodge. Here you can catch a pretty spectacular sunset.

 

Day 3- La Push Beaches while heading back to Seattle

Instead of heading back toward Port Angelus to get to Seattle, we decided to continue south and take the slightly longer (barely) route back to Seattle. This way we were able to see more of the La Push Beaches and take in some different scenery.

Just south of the village of La push are three olympic coast charms: First, second and Third Beaches. Each one is sandy, broad and hemmed in by dramatic bluffs and headlands. With roadside access, First Beach is the easiest to get to and so can be crowded. Third beach requires a 1.2 mile hike down a forested trail. But Second Beach is just right: a hike just long enough to discourage crowds, het short enough to encourage those who want to see the beautiful beach.

Accommodation: Drove from beaches to stay in Seattle

 

Day 4- Seattle

I don’t have a specific accommodation referral as I stayed with a cousin who lives out here, but there are plenty of accomodations for all budgets here in this beautiful city.

We only had one day to explore Seattle, and for me this was enough since I’m more of a nature gal. We hit the highlights such as the Pike Place Market, walking along the waterfront to see the boat houses, and visiting the troll under the bridge. I’m not a museum gal and we also skipped out on the space needle.

Accomodation: Left Seattle mid afternoon to check in at River View Cabin, Gold Bar

Day 5 and 6 – Gold Bar, River View Cabin and Bridal Veil Falls

This was by far the highlight of my trip, and if you are able to make it to this gem, only an hour and 15 minutes east from the Seattle Airport, I highy recommend it.

Located in Gold Bar, this tranquil house rental sits right on the Skykomish River at the base of majestic Mt. Index. The view from the cabin windows and Jacuzzi is a unique and unsurpassed experience. The cabin is private, charming, comfortable and I promise, two nights is probably not enough. You’ll want to stay forever. Bonus points: DOG FRIENDLY!

From the cabin you can walk and then hike up to Bridal Veil Falls, a spectacular waterfall with unbelievable views. There is also a 7 mile roundtrip hike to Lake Serene, if you have the energy by the end of this trip!

Accomodation: River View Cabin

 

Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear your favorite places to visit in Washington, or the Pacific Northwest!!!!

 

Last Stop: Tucson

 

 

Saguaro National Park:

Tucson was our last (and quick) stop on our road trip through Arizona. Before flying out we took some time to check out Saguaro National Park, home of the largest cacti. From Native American artwork to Arizona souvenir travel mugs you are probably familiar with seeing the famous saguaro cactus, which has become the universal symbol for the American West.

 

The Saguaro National Park is unlike any other view I have seen before. There are approximately 1.6 million individual saguaro plants growing within the national park. The beautiful red mountains in the background make it one hell of a site to see.

 

Saguaro National Park has two districts, encompassing a total  91,327 acres. The Rincon Mountain District is located to the East of Tucson and the Tucson Mountain District is located to the West of Tucson.  There is a visitor center in each of the two districts.  For directions to each district please visit here.  

 

DID YOU KNOW: The average lifespan of a saguaro cactus is 150 years, but some plants may live more than 200 years. A 20 foot tall saguaro weighs approximately 1 ton (2000 pounds).

 

The park is open every day of the year except Christmas, and the busiest time of year is Nov- March due to the cooler weather.

 

Late April and March is when you will see the iconic saguaros begin to bloom, along with many other wildflowers.

 

 

Did you know? Saguaros are a very slow growing cactus. In Saguaro National Park, studies indicate that a saguaro grows between 1 and 1.5 inches in the first eight years of its life.

 

 

ADMISSION FEES:


Entrance fee paid for admission to Saguaro National Park is good for seven days and includes both the Tucson Mountain District (West) and the Rincon Mountain District (East).

Saguaro National Park Weekly Pass - $10.00 (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle or motorcycle and all its passengers. Organized groups are not eligible for the vehicle permit.

Saguaro National Park Individual Weekly Pass - $5.00/person (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one individual when entering by foot or bicycle. Individuals 15 years or younger are admitted free of charge.