Take advantage of the lull between the hot and hectic summer months and the bustle of the holidays ahead. Fall is the perfect time to visit the Olympic Peninsula. The crowds have thinned, the air is crisp and fall colors are vibrant.
Here are six fabulous fall activities on the Olympic Peninsula.
Watch for wildlife. From sea to stream to sky, fall is the ideal time to spot abundant wildlife on the Olympic Peninsula.
Birds. The Olympic Peninsula offers exceptional bird watching year round, but fall is prime migration time. You’ll get an eyeful at several excellent birdwatching locales including the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge in Sequim, Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, the Clallam Bay, Sekiu and Neah Bay areas, La Push, Kalaloch beaches, the Hood Canal shoreline and Olympic National Park.
A hearty population of bald eagles resides beside the coastal estuaries along the Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway. Head to Cape Flattery at the most northwest point of the contiguous U.S. to find bald eagles, puffins, oystercatchers, phalaropes and more. In September and October, hundreds of turkey vultures migrate from Vancouver Island, B.C. They take a break along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where visiting scientists gather to count them, before continuing their flight south.
A visit to the Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park in Sequim is a must for birders. The center offers a wealth of information, displays and free Wednesday-morning guided bird walks.
Wander through Dosewallips State Park. Boating, birding and five miles of hiking trails make this a favorite stop for visitors to the Hood Canal area. Just 40 miles from Shelton along Hwy 101, you’ll find a freshwater and saltwater playground for all seasons. Amble alongside the Dosewallips River or explore nearby Rocky Brook Falls and Murhut Falls on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail. Before you leave, spend time harvesting shellfish like a local. The saltwater in Hood Canal create perfect conditions for oysters and clams. But don’t forget: if you harvest an oyster, be sure to leave the shell.
Tide pools. See another side of the Olympic Peninsula at low tide, when colorful sea anemones, prickly urchins, vibrant starfish, small fish, plants and hundreds of other marine occupants reveal themselves. You’ll find brimming tide pools at Salt Creek Recreation Area, Pillar Point and Slip Point along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Don’t find yourself under water. Before you go, check for low and high tide times.
Salmon migration. There’s nothing quite like the upstream migration of salmon, and fall is the best time to catch the dramatic show along most Olympic National Park rivers. From late September to mid-October, one of the best viewing points is Salmon Cascades overlook along the Sol Duc River.
Hit the Olympic Discovery Trail. Whether on foot, bike or horse, a crisp fall day is one of the best times to set out on the Olympic Discovery Trail, Washington state’s premier destination for non-motorized touring. Railroad right-of-way, public roads and trails comprise the 130-mile route that runs from the historic seaside burg of Port Townsend to the Pacific Ocean.
Whether you want to take an extended trek, a leisurely day ride, or a short family outing, the Olympic Discovery Trail offers something for everyone—even adventurous mountain bikers, equestrians and hikers. The Olympic Adventure Route west of Port Angeles is a popular 25-mile point-to-point alternative to the main, paved trail.
Walk the beaches. Mild fall temperatures make fall an excellent time of year to explore Olympic Peninsula beaches. And there’s a lot to explore. From rugged to tranquil, Olympic National Park boasts more than 70 miles of scenic ocean shores.
Head to Kalaloch beaches (pronounced clay-lock) for a real treat, including rocky and sandy stretches, dramatic driftwood and mind-blowing sea stacks. Trek the pebbled Beach Trail 4 and take in the pounding surf (beware the strong undertow) and tidal pools brimming with sea life. Picture-perfect Ruby Beach is named for its sometimes garnet-hued sand. Take time to meander, explore and soak up enough fall beach memories to carry you through winter.
Get festive with the locals. Fall on the Olympic Peninsula is a time to celebrate. Join the fun at community-hosted festivals and events across the peninsula, including the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Forever Twilight in Forks festival, Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival in Port Angeles and the OysterFest in Shelton.
It’s also a time to reap the Olympic Peninsula’s bountiful fall harvest. Get a taste of what’s fresh and fabulous at the Apple and Cider Festival in the Chimacum Valley, the Rain Forest Mushroom Festival at Lake Quinault or the Harvest Wine Tour around the Olympic Peninsula. You can also take in farm tours, farmers markets, arts and cultural happenings and more. Check out the full slate of upcoming events.
Just chill. What’s your idea of relaxation? You’ll find a full menu of options to choose from for your fall visit to the Olympic Peninsula, and they all come with a big dose of “ahhh.”
Enjoy a serene stay at a full-service waterside resort or charming B&B, settle in by a cozy fireplace at a national park lodge, or pick the perfect campsite complete with sunset view. Small fall crowds mean more availability and attractive off-peak-season packages and rates. Find out more about Olympic Peninsula lodging.
Pair your fall stay with Olympic Peninsula cuisine fresh from the farm and sea, renowned regional wine, and creative craft beer and ciders. You might even squeeze in one last picnic, with the stunning Olympic Peninsula as a backdrop.
No matter what kind of experience you’re seeking, make the Olympic Peninsula your fall destination. It’s the ideal time to explore all the region has to offer and a great way to relax, regroup and refresh.
Learn more about things to do while you’re here.