3 Years Around North America, Plus a Few More

Very nice! I did Hart Wild Life this summer was a neat place. Did the Steens the year before. Did you hit Bog Hot springs or Willow Hot Springs near denio?
 

Umnak

Adventurer
Very nice! I did Hart Wild Life this summer was a neat place. Did the Steens the year before. Did you hit Bog Hot springs or Willow Hot Springs near denio?
We didn't stop at Bog Hot Springs because of a snow storm. Saving Willow and a few others along that side of the basin for next year.

I've heard conflicting accounts for Bog. Is it worth the trip?
 
We didn't stop at Bog Hot Springs because of a snow storm. Saving Willow and a few others along that side of the basin for next year.

I've heard conflicting accounts for Bog. Is it worth the trip?
If your in the area its certainly worth the trip out to it. Ive been there twice and the water is really nice. Its a hot water creek. One year was bad with horse flys. Id def recommend to go during cooler months as there is no shade there
 

Umnak

Adventurer
A few days on the Washington Coast.
When we did long kayaking trips in Southeast Alaska -- 150-400 miles unsupported -- we would typically unpack, clean-up and head out again for a couple of nights just to put a froth on the experience. That's carried over to our road trips and so we decided to visit one of our favorite camps on the Olympic Peninsula, Lake Ozette. It's not a long drive, but it is an interesting one along Rt 112 out of Port Angeles, which winds along Juan De Fuca Strait.
Our lunch stop is a county park along the coast at Clallam Bay where we saw a man tending his crab pots using a stand-on-top paddle board. He paddled out in choppy seas, pulled three pots and returned with a lot of crabs. Clallam Bay.jpeg

The 28 mile road to Lake Ozette peels off from the highway just short of Neah Bay. The campground was almost empty and we were able to get our favorite spot next to the lake and at the edge of the wetlands. Cold temperatures earlier in the week had reduced the bugs to about nothing, though they can be troublesome in the summer.
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What we enjoy most about the campground is the two trails that lead to the ocean. Our 3-night say allowed us to hike each trail, spend enough time on the coast and return for a leisurely dinner and fire.

Both trails are about a 6 mile round trip on boardwalk and gravel paths. Once at the coast you can add a few more miles by checking out the petroglyphs at Wedding Rock or follow bear prints along the beach -- we saw no bears but met hikers who did, lots of bears.
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The Sand Point trail has more board walk than the Cape Alava trail. Sand Point's beaches are filled with logs. The point itself is on a steep hill that will become a rock in a few hundred years.

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We returned to camp in time for a fire and dinner. Evening Fire.jpeg

The next day we walked to Cape Alava, which is the farthest western point in the contiguous U.S. It's nice hike through dense forest and a few meadows. There is a campground there for beach hikers and we stopped for lunch and some sun.
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The sun held through dusk allowing us to spend time in the campsite and planning our next trip.
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A three hour delay on Rt 101 at Crescent Lake was a gift that introduced us to the Park's Crescent Lake Lodge. We've always blown past that on our way home. It's worth a visit and we plan on spending a cold winter's night there in December.

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profdlp

Adventurer
Nice pictures, but I've come to expect that. :) Really like the birds who look to have each staked out their own private rock in that one picture.
 

Umnak

Adventurer
A Lap Around the Olympic Peninsula

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It’s just about 375 miles around the Olympic Peninsula if you drive south from Port Townsend to US 101 on Hood Canal and follow it to Shelton, then turn west on Rt 8 before picking 101 up again at Aberdeen. From there the road heads north toward Forks and Port Angeles. The final 45 miles is mostly east.
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The rains had held by the end of October so we decided to take a lap. Our first camp was at the only open Forest Service Campground on Lake Quinault, Willaby Creek. We spent two days exploring the trails among the very large Douglas Fir trees before the campground closed for the year. We hiked then stopped for coffee before accepting the sun would end our day before we were ready.P1260197.jpeg


Only one other camp site was occupied our first night, and none but us the second. An Olympic Park campground is still open at Graves Creek along the river, but we will save that for a later trip.
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It’s odd being in a rain forest with no rain. The moss covered trees expose the forest for what it is, but the dry ground gives one false readings on how this looks under normal fall weather.

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The lake itself has shed high water at least twice this fall, leaving traces of high water along the gently sloping beaches near the campground.

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The Lake Quinault Lodge is a remnant of the grand era of Olympic Forest Holidays. Built in 1926, it still has details left from the original construction, like these stencils at the joins of the post and beam ceiling. We ate a spendy breakfast at the Lodge before continuing on our counter-clockwise route toward the Hoh Rainforest.

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And speaking of a lack of rain, the Visitor Center showed a 2’ deficit for total rainfall up to the beginning of October, with the depth at 6’ instead of 8’. The only open loop at the campground was closest to the Hoh River and we were able to take a spot across from a beach area, but still very much level.

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We walked the close by trails on our only afternoon at the campground, sat by the river for meals and ended the evening with a nice fire. The lack of campers was a gift.
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The camper is staying on the truck, so we looked for other places to visit in the coming months. Our next trip will be to the coast for a hike up to Rialto Beach.
 

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Umnak

Adventurer
Rialto Beach
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We've done a couple of short 2-3 day trips since November, both to the Washington Coast. The weather was very kind for the Rialto Beach trip. No rain and pleasant temperatures.
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There were few others camping during the two nights at the Olympic Park’s Moria Campground. We walked the beach both days one with strong winds and blowing sands. The walk out to Hole in the Wall was stopped because of high tide and a lack of crocks or Xtratuffs. Still, we explored this part of the coast and enjoyed hanging out by the fire at night.
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Salt Creek is a county campground on the Juan De Fuca Strait. It’s become a surfer campground because of the wave action at the creek.

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Umnak

Adventurer
Gold Bluffs Trip

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The Gold Bluffs campground is on a beach at the end of a twisting narrow road in the Redwoods National/State Park. We’ve camped there a few times either heading north or south, but never as a destination.
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After celebrating Solstice with house guests we packed up and headed out on Christmas Eve to meet friends in Oregon’s Fort Stevens park, which is on the Clatsop Spit at the mouth of the Columbia. It is a great place to camp at the start and finish of a coastal trip as it is under 200 miles from home along RT 101. We spent two nights there visiting and celebrating the change of season.
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We don’t travel fast or far on 101, especially the Hood Canal section in Washington and the road north of Newport in Oregon. There are a lot of small towns and winding sections of the highway. And we seldom get an early start. That explains why we ended up at Alder Dunes for the evening having only driven about 200 miles for the day. The day’s drive started at 11:00, then took a 30 minute break for a coffee shop in Sea Side, just south of Fort Stevens. And we also stopped for about an hour for lunch at the Lookout.
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Alder Dunes is a FS campground operated by a private contractor. We were the only one camped there for the evening, aside from the camp manager (not Host). There are no two-tracks giving access to the Beach from the campground, instead there are a couple of trials, one of which we tool just before sunset. I imagine it doesn’t get as many people as the campgrounds with vehicle access to the beach, especially this time of year. It is worth checking out again, with more daylight.

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We made Gold Bluffs early afternoon the next day, and were surprised to see more than half the camp sites taken. Davidson Road off of 101 just north of Orlick, CA doesn’t permit trailers and is not kind to small vehicles. Most of the campsites had pick-up trucks or SUVs with RTTs, there were also a couple of Sprinters and Vans. Two of our three nights were rain free and we were able to hang out with a fire.

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The allure of Gold Bluffs to us isn’t the Fern Canyon, but the Miner’s Ridge Trail. It starts just outside of the campground and follows a creek into the forest. Within 15 minutes you are standing among the redwoods, old redwoods. A 2 mile walk brings you to the junction with the Clintonian Trail that can take you to Prairie Creek and the visitor center or to the Fern Canyon. We’ve done both, but decided to do a turn around after a few miles. The other two days hike were on the beach toward the end of the day. It’s an amazing place.

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Roosevelt Elk live along the flats and frequent the campground. We only saw cows here, though we saw bulls fighting along 101 on our way north.

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We stayed at Beverly Beach, an Oregon State Campground on the way north. Like Fort Stevens it offers electric and water. Not a bad thing after five days of boondocking. The hot showers were also appreciated.
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Five years ago we spent New Years Eve in Astoria finishing our trip with Sprinter up from Texas. It was our last night before heading back to Juneau, as we were leaving the van in Yelm for a few months. We stayed at a hotel on the Columbia and had dinner at the Rogue Brewery on the wharf. We decided a repeat of the night was in order and booked the hotel. Good way to end the year, and five years of road tripping.
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Umnak

Adventurer
Hanford Reach Early March

The Hanford Reach National Monument was established in 2000 from the buffer zone on the opposite side of the Columbia River from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation (Hanford Site). Because of its strategic importance during WWII, the area around where plutonium was being made along the Columbia was set aside. That means it was not used for farming or grazing since 1943.



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I had wanted to check it out for a multi-day trip later this spring, and decided to head there for a couple of nights. Eve has a part time job and I’ve been restless about traveling.

There was fresh snow going over Snoqualmie Pass on Rt. 90 east of Seattle as I made my way to the high desert/sage brush country of Eastern Washington.

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There is no camping in the NM, and no one is supposed to stay there overnight. I found a small Washington State DNR campground about 25 miles south along the Columbia. I was the only person at the campground and had a nice spot right on the river.
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The road to the campground passed by hay fields and vineyards, neither of which look very attractive in late February.

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I spent most of the next day along the White Bluffs section of the river and NM. That included a hike to the sand dunes, which were a highlight of the trip.

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There are not a lot of roads in the NM, so access is very limited. I wouldn’t recommend a trip unless on foot in the Saddle Mountains northeast of the river.
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I drove to the Yakima River Canyon BLM campground nstead of a second night at the same site.
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Oh man I love Gold Bluffs. And you got the elk in camp lucky! I will have to try the miners trail as I havent done that. Looks magnificent.
 
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