Day 1: Welcome to Seattle!
Begin your adventure in Seattle, a lively city with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and nearby mountain peaks. After checking into your hotel, the rest of the day is yours to explore on your own, from the Space Needle and Pike Place Market to the artsy Fremont district.
Day 2: Seattle to Olympic National Park
After meeting with the trip leader in the hotel lobby at 7am for a brief orientation, we'll start off the day with a beautiful ferry ride to Bainbridge Island. Then our adventure begins in earnest as we continue on into the magnificent Olympic National Park. Starting at Hurricane Ridge, we'll get acquainted with the elevation on a 3-mile hike starting at 4800 feet. We'll climb through the park's unique subalpine meadows to reach a stunning, 360-degree view of the snow-clad wilderness to the south and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, Canada, to the north. Along the way, we may encounter Olympic Marmot, black bear, or mountain goats. If time permits, we could add on an additional hike into the arctic tundra of Olympic's driest mountaintops or down into its largest watershed.
Day 3: Hoh Rainforest and the Olympic Coast
Today, we’ll follow a glacier-fed river deep into the verdant Hoh Rainforest, where the forest floor is lush with moss and ferns. We'll keep our eyes out for the regal Roosevelt Elk who feed here and watch for Pacific Wren as they flit about between the canopy and the dense forest floor. Later, we'll visit the Olympic Coast, known for its rugged beaches, headlands, and sea stacks. If the tide is right, we can explore tide pools full of diverse marine life, including sea-stars, nudibranchs, hermit crabs, and anemones.
Day 4: The Olympics and Makah Indian Reservation
In the morning, we'll continue our exploration of Olympic National Park. If ambitions and tides allow, we’ll complete a fairly flat 9¼-mile loop through coastal forest and wild coastline. Here, you'll have a better chance of seeing Sea Otters than anywhere in Washington, as well as nesting seabirds like the tufted puffin. We might also opt for a 1½-mile hike with 200 feet of elevation where we can soak in the awe-inspiring beauty of Cape Flattery—the northernmost tip of the continental United States—while watching for whales, seabirds, and bald eagles. Afterwards, we'll visit the Makah Cultural Center on the Makah Indian Reservation, where we'll learn about the Native Americans who call this peninsula home.
Day 5: Journey to the San Juan Islands
This morning, we’ll make our way to the magical San Juan Islands, an archipelago that harbors near-mythical beauty amid its undeveloped islands and seascapes. Time slows down as we take the ferry to Orcas Island, and we'll learn about this remote wilderness and its historical relevance with a naturalist guide. As evening sets, we’ll take a short hike to the top of Mt. Constitution to watch the sun set over Puget Sound. In the evening, you can enjoy dinner at your leisure in this quaint island town, before settling into your cabin or yurt at Doe Bay.
Day 6: Kayak the San Juans
After breakfast, we’ll enjoy an early-morning paddle in the quiet waters around Sucia Island, a small, pristine island located 3 miles off the north shore of Orcas Island. From your kayak, you'll enjoy dramatic views of the surrounding islands and mountains. The rugged coastline includes a number of wildlife refuges, and we'll keep an eye out for harbor seals, bald eagles, river otter, and seabirds. If we're lucky, we may even encounter porpoises or whales, including one of the island's resident pods of Orcas. Mid-day we’ll stop for a delicious picnic lunch on a remote beach and hike a few of the trails to view marine fossil beds. Then, we'll head back to our overnight accommodations and freshen up for our final dinner together.
Day 7: Depart from Seattle
After breakfast this morning, we'll pack our bags and say goodbye to the Pacific Northwest as we take a short and scenic flight back to Seattle. For those flying back today, you’ll catch a shuttle to Seattle-International Airport for your return flight, or you can extend your trip and stay in Seattle for another few nights.