Exploring Washington State’s Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park - Provided by Maitland Manor

Olympic National Park on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is an adventure that deserves a spot on your travel short list. It’s regularly named among the top national parks in the world by travel writers, explorers, and experts. Travel+Leisure magazine readers voted it one of the Top 15 National Parks in the United States. It’s the perfect place for LGBTQ travelers looking for an escape that’s easy to get to, welcoming, and accessible for people of all abilities, but still feels like a world class passport to a million acres of unspoiled wilderness.

Olympic National Park comprises the  bulk the Olympic Peninsula, about 2 hours drive Northwest from SeaTac Airport and the city of Seattle, making it a prime location to visit with easy access. And there’s enough to do here to create an impressive itinerary in and around the park from a single central hub. The Olympic Peninsula includes not only Olympic National Park, but also Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Olympic National Forest, and the Olympic National Marine Sanctuary.

Getting Around Olympic National Park

You’ll need a car, as this park is huge, and not easily accessible with public transportation (although there are some options for that). From the airport, the easiest route is driving south along I-5 through Tacoma and heading west on WA-16. If you’re exploring all the wonderful LGBTQ hotspots in Seattle first (like world-famous Capitol Hill and the Broadway Market), then the best way is to take the ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island.

Experience the famous Washington ferry system in action. No reservations are needed as the ferry holds 300 cars and leaves about once per hour.

Exploring the Park

Now that you’re out on the Olympic Peninsula, you’ll want to stay about a week to explore everything you can see and do, and take full advantage of the unusual diversity of the Park’s multiple and varied ecosystems. First , unlike most National Parks, Olympic does not have a main gate, and you cannot drive through the Park.

Instead, there are gates dotted around the perimeter of the Park, with access to multiple trailheads at each entry point. The most popular spots are: Hurricane Ridge (alpine mountains), Lake Crescent and Sol Duc Falls (glacial lakes and waterfalls in the rainforest), Hoh Rainforest (location of the quietest square foot in America), and Rialto Beach (wild Pacific Coast). The park is open year-round, but access to some places is limited in winter.

What’s Nearby?

Outside of the National Park, you’ll definitely want to take in the Dungeness Spit (the longest natural sand spit in the Western Hemisphere), Cape Flattery (the northwestern-most point of the contiguous United States), take a day trip by ferry to Victoria B.C., and explore some of the county and state parks that are less visited but no less spectacular.

There are 4 primary towns on the Olympic Peninsula: Port Townsend (a Victorian arts seaport), Sequim (the lavender capital of North America), Forks (of Twilight fame and gateway to the Hoh Rainforest and Rialto Beach), and Port Angeles (the largest town in the area and closest to the most popular places to visit in the area).

Port Angeles is a great location to use as your “home base” during your visit as it’s centrally located to everything the Peninsula and Park have to offer.

Where to Stay

LGBTQ-friendly Maitland Manor is an exceptional boutique B&B in downtown Port Angeles within easy  walking distance of the waterfront, and LGBTQ-owned Domaine Madeleine is an intimate luxury inn located on a waterfront bluff just outside the city.

Maitland Manor:

Domaine Madeleine

Both offer comfortable accommodations, easily accessible locations, all the amenities you need to explore the area, and a welcoming environment for LGBTQ travelers, including couples and solo travelers. Domaine Madeleine also welcomes pets.

Visit Maitland Manor | Visit Domaine Madeline

Each inn provides comprehensive, up-to-date day trip itineraries to ensure you see everything the area has to offer. Depending on the season, you’ll encounter extraordinarily lush green rainforests (March-May and October-November), wildflowers (June-August), wildlife (year-round, but especially September-October), leaf-peeping (late September to early October), solitude and winter sports (November-February), a variety of renowned festivals that vary by season, and romance and adventure year round. Also of note, Port Angeles is home to the longest running and one of the leading annual transgender conferences, Esprit, held in May every year.

Olympic National Park’s Ruby Beach – 2TravelDads

Olympic National Park's Ruby Beach - 2TravelDads

Does anybody think of Washington State as a beach destination? Not hardly, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have the most beautiful ones around. True, Olympic National Park is missing the palm trees, but we make up for it in other ways. Of all of the sandy shorelines in the Pacific Northwest, the most beautiful one in Washington is without a doubt Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park.

What makes Ruby Beach so beautiful and dramatic? It’s the sea stacks, the weathered wood, the wildlife, the perfection of it all. We’ve got the scoop for how and when to visit to have an unforgettable time at the most beautiful beach in Washington. And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll find some of the red rocks and garnets that give Ruby Beach its name.

How to Get to Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park

One of the things that makes the most beautiful in Washington is its remote location. Located just over three hours from Seattle and a little more than 2 hours from Olympia, it’s not exactly an impromptu day trip, which keeps the crowds down. If you’re making the trek that far you should plan on spending a few days both on the sand and in the Hoh Rainforest nearby.

Full Story at 2TravelDads

Olympic Peninsula Gay Travel Resources

Domaine Madeleine – Port Angeles Gay Friendly Inn

Domaine Madeleine - Port Angeles Gay Friendly Inn

Port Angeles Gay Friendly Inn – Olympic Peninsula

Seattle Magazine called our beds “the most comfortable in the world”. Trevor Morrow Travel said that Domaine Madeleine is “the perfect spot to hide away from the world.” Guests give us five stars for our attention to detail and cleanliness, luxury amenities, casual comfortable vibe, and romantic private gardens set amongst old growth evergreen trees.

Domaine Madeleine is a Port Angeles gay friendly inn that sits at the gateway to Olympic National Park on the scenic Olympic Peninsula, about 2 hours Northwest of Seattle. Located on a high bluff, the luxury inn overlooks the Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, and the Dungeness Spit. The collection of suites and cottages feature water views, private outdoor entries, indulgent spa bathrooms, and luxury amenities including super fast complimentary WiFi.

Olympic National Park is regularly named one of the Top 10 National Parks in the world. With over a million acres of unspoiled wilderness, you’ll discover the quietest spot in North America in the Hoh Rainforest, marvel at the sweeping alpine views from Hurricane Ridge (and re-enact The Sound of Music if you want), and sit in awe at the crashing waves on the wild Pacific Coast–all in the same day!

See the Domaine Madeleine Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Olympic Peninsula Gay Friendly Inns. Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Canterbury Inn – Gay Friendly Hotel in Ocean Shores, Washington

Canterbury Inn

BEST CONDO-STYLE BEACH HOTEL

The Canterbury Inn is a condominium style hotel in Ocean Shores, along Washington’s beautiful Pacific Coast.

Voted one of the best vacation getaways in Washington, Ocean Shores offers six miles of sandy beaches, twenty-three miles of interconnecting freshwater canals and a charming beach town where you can explore and enjoy some great shopping.

Everyone comes here for the ocean in any season. Enjoy:

* Beach combing
* Flying a kite
* Horseback riding
* Clamming
* Enjoying sunsets over the Pacific

Our freshwater canals are ideal for kayaking, water skiing, and fishing, or even for biking along on a beautiful afternoon. They even run through our local golf course.

See the Canterbury Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Olympic Peninsula Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Olympic Peninsula Bucket List – 2TravelDads

Olympic Peninsula Bucket List - 2TravelDads

The Olympic Peninsula is amazing. I think it should be considered one of the seven wonders of the world even though it’s such a big region and not just one Wonder. This is our bucket list of the 13 most epic sites or activities on the Olympic Peninsula Washington.

As you’re planning your own time on the Olympic Peninsula, feel free to reorder these however make sense for you. There are of course more than 13 epic sites on the Olympic Peninsula bucket list but these take the cake and it cannot be missed when you travel the OP.

How to Get to the Olympic Peninsula

I read an article that said there are two ways to get to the Olympic Peninsula. I laughed out loud for a long time because it was so incorrect. There are twelve different ways to get to the Olympic Peninsula, so whoever said there are only two ways was extremely wrong.

You can take five different ferries to the Olympic Peninsula, and depending on your itinerary and starting point, any may be the right option for you. The five Washington State Ferry routes that sail to the OP are:

  • Seattle -> Bremerton
  • Seattle -> Bainbridge Island
  • West Seattle -> Southworth
  • Edmonds -> Kingston
  • Whidbey Island -> Port Townsend

By Chris and Rob – Full Story at the 2TravelDads

Olympic Peninsula Gay Travel Resources

Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park – 2TravelDads

BLOG - Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park - 2TravelDads

When we’re not lounging on a Florida beach in the hot sun or gallivanting the globe, we love to hike locally. Local, to us, is anything within a few hours’ drive of Seattle. One of our favorite local activities is hiking in Olympic National Park. It’s such an interesting place, with beaches, lowland rainforests, snow-capped peaks, and sweeping views from terrifying ridges. If you’re visiting Seattle hiking Hurricane Ridge is a great idea as it’s one of the closest access points to the Park.

I think most people in the Pacific Northwest will tell you that no visit to the Seattle area is complete without going hiking. There are tons and tons of options, but we truly prefer and will direct visitors to either Mt Rainier National Park or Olympic National Park. Both can be done as day trips or long weekends. Since we live closer, we more often go hiking in Olympic National Park and hiking at Hurricane Ridge is unforgettable every time.

Locale of Hurricane Ridge

As you’re driving on Highway 101 looping around the Olympic Peninsula, you must go through Sequim and Port Angeles. Although the towns themselves might not grab your eye immediately, they’re worth investing a day in…but we’re talking about hiking, not playing tourist.

So, you’re driving through downtown PA and you see a sign for Hurricane Ridge and you turn. You instantly start heading up hill. You’ll wind past the Port Angeles Olympic National Park Visitor Center, up through a few tunnels and keep going up out of the forest. All of the sudden you’re driving on the side of a mountain with little to no shelter and you keep going up. Eventually the road flattens out and you’re in a parking lot on the top of the mountain. Weird and beautiful..

By Chris and Rob – Full Story at the 2TravelDads

Olympic Peninsula Gay Travel Resources

Olympic National Park’s Ruby Beach – 2TravelDads

Olympic National Park's Ruby Beach - 2TravelDads

Does anybody think of Washington State as a beach destination? Not hardly, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have the most beautiful beaches around. True, totally missing the palm trees, but we make up for it in other ways. Of all we’ve been to, the most beautiful beach in Washington is for sure Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park.

What makes Ruby Beach so awesome and dramatic? It’s the stacks, the weathered wood, the wildlife, the perfection of it all. We’ve got the scoop for how to visit and have an unforgettable time at the most beautiful beach in Washington. And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll find some of the red rocks and garnets that give Ruby Beach its name.

HOW TO GET TO RUBY BEACH

One of the things that makes Ruby Beach the most beautiful beach in Washington is its remote location. Located just over three hours from Seattle and a little more than 2 hours from Olympia, it’s not exactly an impromptu day trip. If you’re making the trek that far you should plan on spending a few days both at the beach and in the rainforest.

Yes, Ruby Beach is very near both the Quinault and Hoh Rainforest areas of Olympic National Park, either of which is easy to add to your trip to Ruby Beach. See, already you’ve started forming an awesome travel plan encompassing beaches, forests and more. Check out our Olympic Peninsula road trip itinerary to get some more ideas!

Tip: a weekend trip is plenty of time to do Ruby Beach, as well as the beaches of Kalaloch and La Push. If you can do three nights, that’s really best because then you can add in the rainforests to your plans and maybe even some hiking at Hurricane Ridge.

By Chris and Rob – Full Story at the 2TravelDads

Olympic Peninsula Gay Travel Resources