Now that 2016 is upon us, it is time to look outdoors and start planning a year’s worth of adventures in the beautiful land we call home. In and around Grays Harbor, we are rewarded with stunning views, amazing wildlife experiences and some of the greatest weekend adventure in America. From sailing on rustic boats, to hiking in wilderness areas full of elk and bear, we have it all right here in our own backyard. While any adventure outdoors is great, we bring you 16 fantastic opportunities to make 2016 your best year in Grays Harbor. Do one or do them all and make 2016 the year you reconnect with the gorgeous landscape we know and love.
Hike Damon Point
Located at the very tip of the Ocean Shores Peninsula, Damon Point offers incredible birding, amazing views and some of the best beach combing opportunities around Grays Harbor. Year round, the area provides awesome experiences. In the winter, Damon Point is known to attract Snowy owls, while the summer months give surfing and kite flying opportunities with views of the Pacific Ocean and the Olympic Mountains.
Birdwatch at Grays Harbor Wildlife Refuge
Every spring, tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds flock to the refuge at Grays Harbor, giving birders a chance to see one of the larger migrations in America. The refuge holds events year round, but the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival is hands down the best reason to visit. The Shorebird Festival attracts birders from around the world, and also holds guided tours for those new to birding. This is the must-see birding event in Grays Harbor.
Climb Colonel Bob
Giving unrivaled views of the entire Olympic Peninsula, the 8-mile round trip hike to the summit of Colonel Bob is one of the best hikes in Washington State. Standing atop the rocky summit, views of Grays Harbor, Lake Quinault, the Pacific Ocean, the Quinault Rainforest, Mount Olympus and most of the Olympic Mountains. This hike is a tough one, but completely worth every drop of sweat it takes out of you.
Stay in the Yurts at Wynoochee
Very few places in the Pacific Northwest are as remote and wild as the Wynoochee region of the Olympic Peninsula. Miles from the nearest amenities, Lake Wynoochee gives amazing camping experiences, including the chance to stay in one of the yurts in the Coho Campground of Olympic National Forest. You don’t have to stay in a yurt though, as camping in the Wynoochee area is always wonderful!
Visit Westport Lighthouse and Museum
The city of Westport has the perfect adventure for all you lighthouse lovers out there. Offering both a lighthouse museum and a 117-year-old lighthouse to explore along the sandy shores of the Pacific Coast. Climb up the Washington’s tallest lighthouse, then take a two mile walk to Westport’s Maritime Museum and see the history of the community, the lighthouses and even regional wildlife.
Find Sasquatch at Fletcher Canyon
Located in the Quinault Rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula, the 3.5 mile out and back trail to Fletcher Canyon is a fantastic way to explore the rugged wilderness of the Pacific Northwest in prime Sasquatch territory. Walk through lush vegetation, huge cedars, giant firs and large boulders on this dog-friendly remote hike off South Shore Road.
Camp along the Quinault River and Lake
While washouts may reduce your ability to get to the stunning Graves Creek Campground in Olympic National Park, there are numerous camping opportunities all around the Quinault region of Grays Harbor County. With a handful of campgrounds in Olympic National Forest, make this summer the year you spend more time sleeping under the stars around the Quinault Rainforest.
See the Enchanted Valley
We are lucky enough to live close to one of the greatest backpacking trips in the nation. Heading out from Graves Creek in Olympic National Park, trek 13.5 miles to the Enchanted Valley, dubbed the land of 10,000 waterfalls. With stunning mountains, an historic old chalet and even elk and blackberry roaming around, this is the perfect getaway into the wilderness of Olympic National Park.
Drive the Quinault Loop
There are few drives more beautiful than taking the loop around Lake Quinault. Starting along South Shore Road, highlights of the amazing drive are the Lake Quinault Lodge, Merriman Falls, the Quinault River, stunning rainforest views, elk sightings, eagle watching and day hiking. There is so much to do around the Lake Quinault Area, it is perfect for a day drive, a weekend getaway or even a week long vacation.
Explore the Wonders of Kalaloch
Kalaloch means “A Good Place to Land” and it is indeed just that. This ideal vacation destination in Olympic National Park is so beautiful and accessible year round that it is one of the most popular destinations on the Olympic Peninsula. With five amazing hiking options, as well as cabins and dining options, life at Kalaloch is always beautiful, during rain, sun and even snow. Remember to head to Ruby Beach for sunset!
Hit the Beach for a Sunrise Calm Dig
One of the most authentic Pacific Northwest experiences is found on early morning low tide along the beaches of the Pacific Coast. During clamming season, hundreds of clam diggers line the beaches, shoveling and digging for their daily limit. From Long Beach to Moclips, the clam dig is a unique event that all should try. More information on clam digging tides, rules, seasons and permits can be found at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage.
Catch a Giant Salmon
Salmon fishing is yet another amazingly authentic experience for residents of the Pacific Northwest. All along the rivers and streams of Grays harbor, salmon return to spawn, making fishing in the region some of the best in the world. With giant chinook caught all around, find a spot along the best places to fish in Grays Harbor and land the salmon of your dreams.
Find Amazing Things While Beach Combing
Beach combing along the coastal beaches in and around Grays Harbor is a pastime that is slowly fading away, but not for lack of loot. All along the coast, rocks, shells and rare objects from overseas wash up after strong storms and high tides. With over 50 miles of beaches in Grays Harbor, we live in a beach comber’s wonderland. From rocky beaches, sandy sections, to a blend of both, there are five amazing beaches in the region that offer great opportunities for beachcombers of all ages.
Head to the Coast to Storm Watch
Most who live along the coast know that there are few better places in the world to watch a storm than the bluffs and beaches around the Pacific Northwest. Every fall and winter, strong winds and heavy rains slam the region, causing power outages, landslides, high surf and stunning displays of the power of mother nature. For those looking to experience the storms firsthand, heading to Kalaloch Beach or the jetties in both Ocean Shores and Westport are your best bets. Make sure to be safe, as logs can easily get tossed during the strongest of the storms.
Watch 20,000 Whales Swim by the Coast
From March through May, the Washington Coast becomes a highway for 20,000+ Gray Whales migrating North to the cool waters of Alaska. Nowhere is this better seen than either from a whale watching tour out of Westport or along the beaches of the Pacific Coast. Each year, the migration of the gray whales makes for an amazing experience and the beaches around Grays Harbor give plenty of chances to see the majestic ocean giants. Stretching the entire length of the Washington Coast, the Whale Trail offers viewpoints, information and even activities during the peak whale watching season.
Take an Adventure on the Lady Washington
Re-enact what it was like to sail in Grays Harbor during the 1700s on a replica of the majestic ship, the Lady Washington. Each year, the Lady Washington returns home to Aberdeen, offering cruises of varying length and activity, sailing on this iconic ship. Seen in Star Trek the Next Generation and Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the old world meets the new each summer at the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport.