Olympic Peninsula – Port Angeles and Hurricane Ridge

The next morning we head back to Hwy 101 via NP2880. This road offers great views down the steep cliffs above the Dungeness River. We dismount in Sequim to find treats and coffee. We find both within a short stroll. The coffee joint could have been found on any Seattle-area street. The treats on the other hand, were quite scrumptious. Bell Street Bakery (173 Bell Street, Sequim, WA or 360-681-6262) has their won grain and flour mill. All of the ingredients are grown locally and milled in-house. Their pastries provided the local flavor that we look for during our trips.

Driftwood Dungeness Spit

Interesting driftwood on Dungeness Spit

With pleasantly full bellies we ride back to the Dungeness Recreation area via the old Olympic Highway. The Dungeness Spit is a more than five-mile sand spit that juts out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Near the end of the spit is the New Dungeness Lighthouse, circa 1857. The lighthouse has been updated to an automatic light and is now operated by the New Dungeness Lighthouse Organization, which took control from the U.S. Coast Guard.

We enjoy a long stroll down the spit looking over the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It would take a couple hours to make it to the lighthouse. A walk that would be well worth it if we had the time. After taking several photos we continue down Hwy 101 to Port Angeles.

The ride from Sequim to Port Angeles is relatively undramatic. It is a wide, fast and indifferent road from any other get-there-fast highway. Luckily, the destinations are worth the few minutes of boredom.

The Olympic National Park Visitor Center is located on a hill in Port Angeles. Just follow the many signs. The visitor center offers the typical gift shop, but also ha a very nice exhibit area about the park. This is valuable infomratio nthat keeps you informed as to the geological and climatic uniqueness that is visible from the road.

Turning right from the visitor center is a park entrance and Heart O’ the Hills campground. This is one of the larger campgrounds in the Olympic National Park. We find ample available sites. We stake our claim and set up camp.

The damp and socked in skies clear as we finish setting up camp. After a brief run into Port Angeles for dinner, we decide to forgo our evening planes and head up Hurricane Ridge.

Hurricane Ridge Sunset

Sun sets over the Olympic Mountains viewed from Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge Road climbs quickly. It rises up from sea level in Port Angeles to approximately 5,200 feet at the top. The road itself is worth the trip. Even on the cloudiest of days it twists and turns with a rockwall to the right. On the opposite side of the road is a small shoulder and steep drop off. There isn’t much room for error. An abundant wildlife population and park rangers eager to snag speeders means that motorcyclists should be mindful of the posted speed limit. That is completly alright as the views deserve every bit of attention that the road affords.

After passing through a couple tunnels and leaning through countless turns, we arrive at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

The area is aptly named for unpredicable weather that rolls over the Olympic National Park. With clear skies, Hurricane Ridge Road and the views from it are suberb.

Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

The view from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

We arrived to the top as the sun hung low in the sky. The visitor center was closed, but a Kingston-area school teacher was setting up some sort of contraption. Being the curious person that I am, I enquire for more informatin. The contraption is actually a project that he built with his students. It is a very high power telescope that is self-contained for transport. Throughout the summer he holds stargazing sessions from the top of Hirricane Ridge. The surrounding mountains block any light pollution and on clear nights (on which the program only runs) the stars move quickly, but clearly past its lens.

It was total happenstance that we stumbled upon this program. It doesn’t have to be a chance encounter for you. Plan to arrive just prior to dusk to take in the mountain views. Then after the sun sets you can take in the astronomical views.

We ride very slowly back down the mountain to our camp site at Heart O’ the Hills. After failing to get our damp wood to catch fire, we retire to teh warmth of our sleeping bags. At least we’ll have wood to burn to cook breakfast. As long as we can get it lit.

As peninsulas go, there are three options for day trips (west side, north side and east side.).  This trip is being split up into separate articles by day. This allows you to pick and choose which parts best fit with your schedule and what you’d like to see. Time didn’t allow us to make the western Pacific Ocean portion of the Olympic Peninsula. Stay tuned for the next article on the section of our trip through lavendar farms and Port Townsend.

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