Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is a grab bag of outdoor recreation. Hardcore hikers can hit trails leading to towering, snowcapped mountains. Botany buffs can explore the lush rainforests that flourish under high canopies. Surfers hit the big waves that roll into shore in places like La Push.
That’s just scratching the surface of the 1,442-square-mile region. Visitors can experience it all when they stay at Elma RV Park, a laidback Good Sam Campground located in its namesake town 30 miles west of Olympia. Described as the Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula, this campground puts the region’s long menu of recreational activities within reach.
From Elma, follow roads that hug the Pacific Coast for uncrowded beaches and diverse communities. Forty-two miles west of Elma, motorists will discover a stretch of Pacific Coast lined with several charming beach towns. Hang around Ocean Shores and launch a kite into the sky, or grab a shovel and pail and dig for clams. Head north and watch the Moclips River empty into the Pacific Ocean near the town of the same name. Further North on the Coast, the town of Taholah serves up beautiful beaches near the outlets of the Quinault River.
Venturing into Olympic National Park on the Pacific Coast, the community of La Push is home to fantastic waves, with beaches for surfers of all experience levels. Here, where the Quillayute River meets the Pacific Ocean, board riders can catch waves as high as seven feet.
Head further north for Neah Bay, where surfers will find clean waves during the winter season. Embark on the Cape Flattery Trail and reach the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States. Spectacular views greet visitors here, including the towering Fuca Pillar. Check out Cape Flattery Lighthouse, built to protect ships making the passage from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Pacific.
Along the Peninsula’s northern coast, a slew of fun beach towns greets visitors. About 28 miles north of Forks, famed as the setting for the Twilight series, the town of Clallam spoils visitors with delicious seafood and dazzling views of Clallam Bay. Take a selfie with the statue of the area’s mascot, Rosie the Walking Fish. Rosie overlooks the sprawling bay from the nearby town of Sekiu.
East of Clallam, on the Peninsula’s north coast across from Victoria, Port Townsend buzzes with fun restaurants and eclectic stores. Port Townsend specializes in serving up excellent seafood, cheeses and desserts.
Into the Mountains
In the heart of the Peninsula, the towering mountains of Olympic National Park take center stage. From Elma, visitors can take the two-hour drive up the east side of the Peninsula to get to the Olympic National Park Visitor Center. Here, you’ll kids can play in the hands-on “Discovery Room.” There’s also an extensive book store and some short trails. Along this route, motorists will pass through exciting towns like Quilcene, Hoodsport and Skokomish.
Hurricane Ridge, in particular, offers great vistas of the Olympic Mountains. Hikers can hit the variety of trails with panoramic vistas of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Take Time to visit one of the region’s most picturesque bodies of water. Lake Crescent, known for its deep, turquoise-blue waters, is a glacially carved lake offering a cool, idyllic spot for swimming, boating, camping and fishing. Nestled along Highway 101, Lake Crescent also has several beaches and a trail leading to a swimming favorite known as Devil’s Punch Bowl. Another popular spot in Olympic National Park is the scenic Sol Duc Falls. Here, visitors might also catch a glimpse of bald eagles that often soar overhead. Catch a quick fish dinner at the Salmon Cascades, where salmon run every season. Trout and steelhead run the river in the fall.
Although you might expect rainforests to exist only in equatorial regions, Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park bursts with life, with ferns sprouting out of the ground and lichen coating rocks. Overhead, an extensive canopy keeps this area cool and protects the robust plants on each side of the trails.
Back at Elma
Elma RV Park treats guests to small-town hospitality, with fresh cookies, coffee or tea served to visitors. Guests can relax in big rig sites or in the spacious clubhouse for groups. In town, visitors can explore Schafer State Park, with paths that wind through a vibrant forest.
Everywhere you look, the lush Pacific Northwest landscape inspires and relaxes. Wi-Fi, room for slideouts, tables at sites and onsite RV make this a welcoming environment. Stock up on RV supplies, use the self-service RV wash or gather at the pavilion. Nearby, a casino, fishing and kayaking or canoeing spots cater to recreation seekers.