North Olympic Peninsula in Washington State

North Olympic Peninsula in Washington State (west end): Aerial views of the Olympic Peninsula with town descriptions, eating, lodging tips, and map ideas.

State Highway 112 runs along the north Olympic Peninsula coast between Port Angeles and Neah Bay. The beautiful area boasts all kinds of restful spots where you can pull over and hang out for as long as you need or want to.

Take the time to walk on any of many little beaches, gather driftwood, have a picnic and watch the birds, wildlife, and marine life, including bald eagles, orca whales and humpbacks

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Attractions of the North Olympic Peninsula

There is almost NOTHING on the stretch of North Olympic Peninsula west of Port Angeles! 

Well, almost nothing, if it is New York City you're comparing it to.

What you WILL find are

  • 2 museums: the Joyce Depot Museum and the world-class Makah Indian Museum
  • Spectacular Nature at its very finest
  • A few small communities happy to provide food and lodging for you

About that food and lodging, you may need to plan ahead a bit. (Glad you found this page.) Because there really aren't many modern amenities around every next bend in the road. 

Also on the North(east) Olympic Peninsula:

Here are the notable towns and attractions along the west end of Washington State's North Olympic Peninsula:

Freshwater Bay

Just 10 miles west of Port Angeles, WA, lies Freshwater Bay, which gives its name to the 21-acre Clallam County Park known as Freshwater Bay. Calm and protected, it's a great spot for whale watching, kayaking, and also has a boat ramp for small boats.

Freshwater Bay is also a stop on the Whale Trail. It's not uncommon to see orcas and other marine mammals here. Enjoy a picnic at the tidelands, comb the beaches, and enjoy hiking, fishing, crabbing, bird and wildlife watching.

Beware the tides for boat launching as Freshwater Bay is relatively shallow and the ramp can be completely exposed at low tide.

If your only intent is walking, rock-hounding, or picnicking, you can also access the shores of Freshwater Bay east of the park by turning north from Hwy 112 onto Place Road and taking the road toward the shore. Turn right on Elwha Dike Road, go a little farther, and then pull over and park. You get to do the last 1/4 mile on foot. It's a lovely walk, and the beach will be refreshing. We saw bald eagles up close the last time we picnicked at Freshwater Bay. 

Salt Creek Recreation Area

3506 Camp Hayden Road, Port Angeles, WA 98363-8702

Tripadvisor Reviews of Salt Creek Recreation Area, Port Angeles WA - 4.5*

You'll find the Salt Creek Recreation Area 16 miles west of downtown Port Angeles, WA. You can drive the distance in approximately 23 minutes.

Salt Creek is a Clallam County recreation area encompassing 196 acres. It is open all year. Formerly a World War II camp known as Camp Hayden, it still features two large casements and other explorable military structures. The adjoining campground contains almost 100 campsites; some of them have killer views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Recreation opportunities include baseball and basketball courts, horseshoe pits, picnic areas, hiking, swimming, kayak tours, and more, with views of Vancouver Island, BC, Crescent Bay, and the rocky coastline and sandy beaches. If the tide is out, there are tidepools that will provide a wonderful experience for kids and adults alike. 

As for the shore itself, the grade is so gradual that the shallow water becomes quite warm in summertime, thanks to the summer sun. Not until the bottom begins dropping does the water become Pacific-Northwest-chilly. 

The Village of Joyce WA

18 miles west from Port Angeles along Highway 112 is the little village of Joyce. The road doesn't widen, and there are no stop signs. You'll find a gas station and country store (pictured above), the Joyce Depot Museum (interesting!), a fire station, and the Family Restaurant (pretty good). The population of Joyce are scattered into the surrounding countryside.

The first Saturday in August is when Joyce hosts Joyce Daze Wild Blackberry Festival, a nearly all-day festival featuring fresh homemade blackberry pies, a parade down main street, booths filled with artisanal goods for sale, and games and competitions.

Joyce is also where you catch the road to nearby Crescent Beach and RV Park, owned by Weyerhauser. Pull up and spend the night in your RV, or hang out as long as you care to for the day. A day use fee applies, which in my opinion is well worth it. 

Sister Villages of Clallam Bay and Sekiu WA

Sekiu and Clallam Bay are located about 50 miles west of Port Angeles, which will still take you 1 1/4 hours to drive by car. The two towns hug opposite ends of the sandy crescent beaches surrounding Clallam Bay.

Clallam Bay is the working man's town, being right on Highway 112, while Sekiu is almost entirely about fishing. If you haven't come for the stellar fishing, the area is still lovely for picnics, beach combing, hiking, biking, bird watching, scuba diving, and kayaking.

Not far from Sekiu WA, and close to the road, is this dramatic sea stack like a needle with full-grown trees perched atop.Not far from Sekiu, and close to the road, is this dramatic sea stack like a needle with full-grown trees perched atop.

Get lots more information about Clallam Bay Washington and sister village Sekiu here.

Neah Bay

Highway 112 and the North Olympic Peninsula both end at the town of Neah Bay, within the Makah Indian Reservation. 

The most northwesterly corner of the lower 49 states is here at Cape Flattery and Tatoosh Island. The trail to Cape Flattery will take you 20 minutes on mostly level ground or boardwalk. The hike is well worth the effort. Tatoosh Island is clearly visible from Cape Flattery. You are also likely to see whales, seals, and many species of sea birds depending on the season of your visit. 

For much more information on Neah Bay Washington, visit this page

The North Olympic Peninsula, Then and Now

The area along the north coast of Washington state through which Highway 112 now runs was traditionally home to the Klallam and Makah peoples. 

Initially, most communication and travel were done via steamboats which regularly served the north Olympic Peninsula communities, bringing homesteaders, lumbermen, explorers and other hardy individuals.

As more people arrived, roads were built which were little more than wide hilly trails skirting the rugged coastline and occasionally dipping inland. Over the course of a couple hundred years, the meager foot trails and wagon roads gave way to train tracks hauling lumber from newly-built lumber mills.

The main road connected the small towns such as Port Crescent, Gettysburg, Twin and Pysht, which were thriving villages during the early years. These towns have now settled out into very small communities or become ghost towns. Many have earned a mention in the area's historic literature.

Highway 112 is still a 2-lane road that wends its way along the contours of the land, several times dipping to the very shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Today, the logging industry moves by truck.

You may find that some log-truck drivers seem to be in an all-fired hurry. Which is just fine. When one is on vacation, one sometimes forgets that others are still hard at work; so please don't hold it against them. Simply pull over and let these hard-working drivers go about their business. Then you can keep right on sight-seeing at whatever pace you prefer. Because the sights are definitely worth seeing!

The continuing wild remoteness of the North Olympic Peninsula means that you can still revel in its nearly pristine wildness.

Get a taste of the area by watching this 4-minute video tour presented by

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