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Great American Road Trips: the Olympic Peninsula

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On: Mon, Nov 18, 2013 at 1:33PM | By: Bill Wilson

Great American Road Trips: the Olympic Peninsula

If you’ve ever felt the urge to go west, then you might try a jaunt around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. As far as the lower 48 of the United States is concerned, it’s as far west as you can drive without falling into the Pacific Ocean. It’s also a place of where you’ll never have to choose between going to the mountains or the beach. That’s because both options are within sight during the entire trip. There are also rivers, lakes, forests, and meadows so beautiful you’ll question your grip on reality when you see them.

Truly the Last Frontier
The American frontier was officially closed in 1890. But in reality a huge swath of unsettled land still remained just a scant 15 miles from Seattle. Explorers didn’t get around to mapping it until 1898. Their concern at the time was timber resources. But today the area’s major attraction is its jaw-dropping natural beauty. Some of the endless wonders you’ll see there include the following:

• Majestic mountains that rival the Rockies in size and stay snow-capped even in summer.

• Deep, dense forests where no human being has trod to this day.

• Stone-strewn coastline, rugged and lonely, that’s completely unlike the crowded, sandy beaches of Florida and California.

• Endless meadows blanketed with colorful wildflowers in the spring and summer,

• Picturesque little communities filled with inns, shops, and delightfully delicious cuisine of all types.

• Wildlife roaming free in its native habitat, including bison, grizzlies, coyotes, goats, deer, and, per some reports, wolves.

• Olympic National Park, over 900,000 acres of untouched beauty that looks the same now as when the Roman Empire was in full swing.

Short of Alaska itself, there’s probably no more awe-inspiring place in the 50 states. And you can see hundreds of miles of it from the comfort of your auto. Roads are paved and well-maintained, and modern communities dot the route every few miles.

Suggested Route
Starting in Seattle, set off on Highway 101 for a 330-mile loop that will take you past the major sites. If you like to hike, fish, or camp, then you’ll find thousands of places where you can pull off the road and disappear into the wild. Just make sure you prepare for the trip. More than 90% of the peninsula is sheer wilderness. If you get lost or hurt far from the road, then help might be a long time coming. Pack extra food, blankets, and a good first aid kit, just in case. Then get ready for the trip of your life.

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