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Olympia, Washington was named after the nearby Olympic Mountains, themselves named for Mount Olympus of Greek legend. The mountains were named in 1788 by explorer John Meares, who exclaimed, “If that be not the home where dwell the Gods, it is beautiful enough to be, and I therefore call it Mount Olympus.”
Washington State Capitol: The Washington State Capitol is worth seeing. The grounds are beautiful, especially in the spring when rhododendrons and other spring flowers are at their peak. The marbled interior is also gorgeous. You can take tours of the governor’s mansion, visit the many memorials, get info from the nearby visitor center, admire views of Puget Sound and the Olympics, and walk down to and around Capitol Lake.
Hands On Children’s Museum: The Children’s Museum in Olympia is a must for children! Every attention to detail has been done to insure the children will enjoy a wonderful time. There is something to do hands on for every child. Both inside and outside activities are available. It is very large which allows children and their family to enjoy any activity. Safety has been an important part of the Museum and staff is both friendly and helpful.
Nisqually Reach Nature Center: The sounds, site, and distinct smells from this place make it unique. The Nisqually Reach Nature Center appeals to all ages with its intriguing display of natural science. Stepping into to this habitat has the power to make a visitor forget about the busy lifestyle and engages you in its centuries-old tranquility that is untouched by human-kind.
5th Avenue Bridge: Really peaceful, lots of different fish and of course, the salmon. Educational signs around, Quaint white bridge across the way. This is a great walking area near the Port of Olympia and old town Olympia. Beautiful water views, restaurants and little shops.
Lattin’s Country Cider Mill & Farm: The Cider Mill is known by one and all. They have a variety of farm fresh and hot baked foods. Have taken tours of the place and they have a variety of animals and grow pumpkins and other things. Lot of fun to be had. Highly recommend for lots of reasons. Stop in and buy some hot apple fritters and home-made apple cider and enjoy the surroundings.
Flights from Tampa get you to Seattle Washington which is just a car ride to Olympia. Give TravelKatz a call at 352-277-7300 and we will make this a vacation to remember for you and your family.
Three enjoyable fall hikes on the Olympic Peninsula
OLYMPIC PENINSULA — Every hiker has a to-do excursion list, and Olympic Hot Springs has to be on yours. As rivers and rainstorms kept washing out the road to the trailhead and bridges along the trail; access to Olympic Hot Springs is just now reopened, and you can look for autumn beauty at Hurricane Ridge and the Quinault Valley in spring.
After years of fits and starts, both the trail and the road reopened in mid-August, just in time for a fall hike. Which is perfect timing, because the Olympic Peninsula is one of the favorite destinations once summer ends.
Thinner national-park crowds and cooler weather combine with an abundance of well-maintained trails, many at low elevation. Fall offers other highlights; Spring has some, too: This is prime mushroom-gathering time (if you know what you’re doing), and it’s easy to spot wildlife as critters move out of the highlands to gorge themselves for winter.
If you go in the Fall
A National Parks Pass or proof of park entry payment is required at trailheads within the national park. The multiagency America the Beautiful pass is good at both national parks and national forests.
- Pets are not allowed on trails in the national park.
- Bring waterproof footwear, since water can run across trails, especially near hot springs and after rain. Watch forecasts and always go prepared for changing weather in autumn, including rain or early snow.
- Don’t approach wild animals. If you see mountain goats, rangers recommend waving, yelling and throwing rocks to encourage them to avoid humans.
- The Washington Trails Association website includes trail descriptions and recent trail reports: wta.org
- Olympic National Park website: nps.gov/olym
Here are three hiking destinations for autumn:
Olympic Hot Springs
The hike to the springs, on a wide trail, is pleasant and generally easy. On a recent sunny September weekday, it wasn’t very crowded, either. Two or three people occupied each of a half dozen or so hiker-made pools on a tree-covered slope. To get there, cross a new log bridge over Boulder Creek that replaces a knocked-out suspension bridge whose off-kilter anchors still cling to the hillsides.
Bob Stohler, who’s seen plenty of human activity — both positive and negative — over many visits from his home on the Kitsap Peninsula says, “I’ve been coming up here for 30 years. It’s changed a lot, but the soak is still good, and the hike in is still good.”
Many of those changes are results of careless human trampling. Leave the place better than you found it: Pack out everything you bring in with you and avoid disturbing the area around the pools. National park officials warn that the water quality is not monitored and may contain bacteria (if you need a bathroom, there’s a privy at the nearby campground). Also, some visitors consider the springs clothing-optional.
Because the access road is paved all the way to the trailhead, albeit occasionally rough or very narrow, the trail is popular throughout the year. For a low-elevation alternative, stick to trails at the bottom of Olympic Hot Springs Road, such as the Smokey Bottom trail. It travels 3.8 miles (round trip) along the edge of former West Lake Mills, now an ongoing restoration experiment.
Visit the Glines Canyon Spillway Overlook, where exhibits describe the dam removal there. Part of the old spillway still hangs eerily over the canyon.
You don’t want to be there during a windstorm, but on quiet autumn days, Hurricane Ridge can be an island of peace. On a recent visit, a mother deer and her fawns were spotted traipsing across golden hillsides, rabbits diving into the bushes, and innumerable birds. Despite a few clouds, views from observation points stretch all the way to Vancouver Island, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, on one side and to glaciers of the Olympic peaks on the other.
One bonus the ridge offers: Many trails leaving the main parking areas are paved, which means they’re still in good shape during or after rain.
Drive west from the main parking area to the Hurricane Hill trailhead and climb across the flank of the namesake hill on the 3.2-mile (round trip) paved trail, enjoy the expansive and ever-changing views of tree-decorated grassy slopes and valleys all the way, think how nice it was to walk all the way on such a good surface.
The on-site visitor center (open 9 a.m. — 5:30 p.m.) has information and toilets, though the snack bar there is open only through Oct. 15. Once the snow flies, usually at the end of October, the road closes until the winter season begins in December, when it’s open on weekends and holidays for snow sports.
Although this part of the park gets plenty of rain in the fall, it’s a verdant time of year, and well-maintained low-elevation trails make a hike possible any time. Mushrooms abound here in the fall. You might get lucky and see Roosevelt elk, or at least hear bugling as they gather in the river valleys to find mates and gorge themselves.
Many short hikes leave the Lake Quinault Lodge area on the lake’s south side, including one to the world’s largest Sitka spruce and another to the world’s largest western red cedar. The Pony Bridge trail, heads up into the hills along the Quinault River. Hike gradually uphill for 2.5 miles, crossing three charming log bridges en route. Admire the view at the final bridge and then turn around (or keep going as far as you feel). In the fall, you may see salmon struggling upriver to their spawning grounds. Children might find giant banana slugs just as fascinating. The trailhead (Graves Creek) is at the end of a gravel road that’s usually in decent condition.
After you hike, eat where President Franklin Roosevelt did in 1937, in the lodge dining room (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner year-round).
WASHINGTON VACATION PACKAGE MADE EASY
Another option for our Washington Vacation Package is the Natural Wonder. See our selection of choice below to see if it fancies your style. Please don’t hesitate in contacting us with any questions or concerns.
WASHINGTON: Olympic National Park
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