I had the chance last week to join our sister company, Evergreen Escapes, on an Olympic National Park Tour. Evergreen runs day tours from Seattle to Olympic National Park, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helen’s, North Cascades National Park, as well as fun wine tasting tours closer to the city. They are the crème de la crème of the small group tour business in Seattle! So it was wonderful to be able to get out and finally experience firsthand what I’ve been hearing and talking about for the last few years.
It was bluebird day in the Pacific Northwest as I rode my bike to the Evergreen Escapes office. If you’ve ever had the chance to ride in Seattle on an early summer morning, you know what I’m talking about—cool temperatures, the Puget Sound sparkling in the morning sunlight, and the quiet of a city that hasn’t woken all the way up yet—it’s a bike commuters’ dream! When I reached the office, I met Nate, our guide for the day, as he finished loading up the van with delicious snacks and meals to be served on the tour.
A Tale of Two Olympic National Park Tours
After picking up guests in downtown Seattle, we boarded the Bainbridge Island ferry, one of the most iconic, must-do activities during a trip to Seattle. Once off the ferry we started the (longish) drive out to the peninsula, enjoying Nate’s narrative about native people, plants, and animals along the way. After pulling into a rest area on our way to Crescent Beach, I realized we were right on the Olympic Discovery Trail, which is the inspiration for Bicycle Adventures’ Olympic National Park & Discovery Trail tour. It’s a 130-mile multi-use trail that hugs the northern coast of the peninsula, winding along the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Townsend to Port Angeles, before turning south and continuing along the shores of beautiful Lake Crescent and out to the Pacific Ocean at La Push. All along the trail are peek-a-boo views of beaches and ocean, lakes and rivers, old-growth forests, along with fantastic flora and fauna.
Standing on the rocky beach of Lake Crescent (one of the most pristine lakes you’ll ever see) listening to Nate tell us a native legend from the Quileute tribe, you get a sense of the depth of history and the vastness of the wilderness surrounding you. There’s a primal connection to the land that seems to bubble up inside people when they get out to Olympic National Park. It’s hard not to feel connected when you touch a 500-year-old tree, eat lunch by a rushing glacier-fed river, or stand on the top of Hurricane Ridge overlooking the peaks of the Olympic Mountains—which were pushed skyward by tectonic plate shifts millions of years ago.
The whole day was incredible! Whether you’re exploring in a cushy Ford Transit van with Evergreen Escapes or from the seat of a bicycle (regular or electric) with Bicycle Adventures, I highly recommend coming out to the Olympic Peninsula. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you see an otter playing in the surf of Salt Creek Recreation Area or see a bald eagle soaring overhead, two sights my group enjoyed on our tour. Clouds and light wind felt just right at the beach—and it wasn’t raining, so it’s what we Pacific Northwesterners call a nice day on the coast. After the beach, we passed through the rain shadow near Sequim (pronounced “Skwim”), and the clouds broke open to glorious, beaming sunshine.
A New View of the Olympic Peninsula
While my personal preferred mode of exploration is always cycling (I was admittedly quite jealous of the riders I saw pedaling through the forest and up Hurricane Ridge), it was also nice to slow down for the day. Walking gives you even more time to take in the views and pick out the small details you might otherwise miss, like the deer hiding in the trees or the tiny purple wildflowers growing in fields by the trail.
If you haven’t visited the Pacific Northwest, get here as soon as you can! Olympic National Park is just one lovely gem in the area to explore—there are so many more amazing places to walk, ride, paddle, and drive through. This is the perfect time of year to visit, as we typically have mild summer temperatures and blue skies through September. If you want someone to plan for you, we have you covered. Between our six companies, we offer road biking, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, and city tours around Portland and Seattle, with a ton of departure options before the end of September. There’s truly something for everyone, and we’d love to show you this “upper left” corner of the US!
Looking for More Summer Tours from Seattle?
Need a suggestion? Here are my top recommendations for what to do in the PNW from July-September:
Multi-day adventures: I highly recommend a multi-day trip so that you can truly give yourself a break and relax into the glory of the Northwest summer and fall.
Cycling: Olympic National Park & Discovery Trail bike tour, Columbia Gorge bike tour (new dates just added for September!), or San Juan Islands bike tour with Bicycle Adventures
Hiking: 3-day North Cascades tour with Evergreen Escapes
Mountain biking: Sacred Seattle with Sacred Rides
Kayaking: 3-day Coastal Explorer tour with San Juan Kayak Expeditions
Single-day tours: Only have a day to explore? No problem, here’s how to make the most of short visits:
Hiking: Olympic National Park full-day tour with Evergreen Escapes (also great as an add-on for our San Juan Islands 6-day bike tour!)
Riding: Essential Portland day tour with Cycle Portland (Great as an add-on to the Bicycle Adventures Columbia Gorge tour!)
Kayaking: Lime Kilm full-day tour with San Juan Kayak Expeditions
Mountain biking: Full-day tour with Seattle Mountain Bike Tours (beginner to advanced levels available!)