I often get questions about day trip ideas in Washington, and things to do that involve little hiking to none.
And I do have to tell you that there are tons of things to do as long as you have a car. If you are into road trips and want to take your family (parents, kids, and the elders) to explore more of Washington, Olympic Peninsula is a solid option.
You’d need a National Park Pass and perhaps a little planning (time, commute, and lodging). And in this blog post, I will cover how to exactly plan for a perfect family road trip to the Olympic Peninsula from Seattle.
1. VISITING HURRICANE RIDGE:
From Seattle, there are a few ways to get to Hurricane Ridge. I’ve driven 3-hour (about 160 mi.) all the way there via the Tacoma route once and taken the ferry plus driving route multiple times.
- Drive all the way. It’s less costly, and the driving is more.
- Drive and take the car on the ferry with you. It’s more costly (you’d have to pay for each ride), and you’d have to take waiting time at the ferry into consideration. There are two ferry routes depending on where you want to start. One is in Seattle via the Seattle-Bainbridge Terminal, and one is via the Edmonds-Kingston Terminal, located north of Seattle.
PRO TIPS to avoid waiting too long at the ferry terminal: Look up the daily ferry schedule at the terminal that you want to start your trip. To maximize your day, start going to the terminal as early as you can and arrive at least half an hour before the time. The latest trip back to Seattle is usually at around 11 pm.
From Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, you can have a picnic or wander or hike any of the trails there. There’s no strenuous hiking required.
- If you don’t want to hike, I recommend stopping by Port Angeles to explore local towns, eat, and shop, or go swimming at Lake Crescent.
- If you don’t mind driving at night, I recommend sunset here. On clear days with some clouds, it is incredible! On one of my most recent trip to Hurricane Ridge, my partner and I were able to stop by Crescent Lake and finish Obstruction Point before making the last stop at Hurricane Ridge. That was a lot of driving, and we had cut our hike short right when the sun started to go down. We made it back up to Hurricane Ridge visitor center and witnessed the most incredible sunset, peak at around 8:22 pm. It’s the best sunset I have yet to witness in my entire life.
- Lastly, I highly recommend planning for at least a two-day trip if you’ve never been to the Olympic Peninsula. I live in Seattle and have camped and done this kind of trip within the day. There is just a lot of driving involved, and I’m used to it. Definitely look for a lodging option at the Olympic Peninsula, wherever that is convenient and works for you.
From here, you have options to drive to the Washington Coast or explore more of what Olympic National Park has to offer.
2. HIKING OBSTRUCTION POINT
This trail recommendation to the heart of the Olympic Peninsula is totally optional. There are some uphill and downhill parts, but overall, I think parents and kids should still be able to do some parts of this trail.
Obstruction Point Road drive is a tricky one. The 8-mile dirt road is pretty narrow and mostly one-way with pull-outs, so use plenty of precautions and be patient. Note that the road is not suitable for trailers or motorhomes. Stop if you need to yield for other cars to pass.
- From Hurrican Ridge Visitor Center, look for the Obstruction Point sign at the left end of the parking lot. If the road access is clear of snow, the gate should be open. Make sure to check for road conditions as most of the time it is closed due to snow.
- Obstruction Point Trailhead starts at a small parking lot at the end of the Obstruction Point Road. There are two ways in which you can start this hike: the left turn will take you to Badger Valley (0.3 mi) and Deer Park (7.5 mi) and the right turn leads to Grand Lake (3.7 mi), Moose Lake (4.2 mi), and Grand Pass (5.9 mi).
- My advice is to pick a clear day and wear appropriate sun protection because you’re going to be pretty high up in elevation (at about 6000 ft).
- Regardless of Obstruction Point Road driving warning, we could access the trailhead fairly easy. We have a Honda Civic.
We arrived at the Obstruction Point quite late in the day, so we took the right route and hiked for a total of 2 hours. Once the sun started to go down, we headed back to our car and stopped by Hurricane Ridge on the way out. It was a summer day (August 16, 2020), so the sun didn’t set until 8:30 pm. There were still some patches of snow and even meadows of avalanche lilies, paintbrush, and lupine at some parts of the trail. Most of the time it felt like I was hiking on Mars or someplace far away. Even though it was such a short hike, I loved every second of it!
I hope this blog post inspires you to make a visit to Olympic National Park and explore more of what Washington has to offer. Please travel safely, wear a mask, and wash your hands often.