There’s no better place than Olympic National Park and the surrounding area to spend a romantic weekend, celebrate Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, or to just spend time together. Don’t miss these seven activities.
1. Stay at One of the West’s Most Romantic National Park Lodges
Named one of the West’s most romantic National Park lodges” by Sunset magazine, Kalaloch Lodge is a fantastic place to spend time with your partner. After exploring the park, cozy up in a Pendleton blanket and warm up by the fireplace in this ocean side retreat. (www.thekalalochlodge.com)
2. Stroll on a Beach
Where else but Olympic National Park can you stroll a beach and snowshoe on the same day? Ruby Beach is north of the Kalaloch Lodge. If you are up for a longer drive, try Rialto Beach, which is easily accessible from the parking lot. Spend hours walking down the beach, exploring the tidal pools full of sea stars and anemones and the piles of drift wood that wash ashore. You may even see seals and eagles. If the weather is clear (check the tides), time your visit around sunset.
3. Play in the Snow
Bring your significant other to Hurricane Ridge, one of the most spectacular places to cross country ski and snowshoe in the state. As you explore this winter wonderland, take in the magnificent views of the Olympic Mountains and the park. Don’t forget to pack an insulated bottle with hot drinks to share as you take in the scenery.
Rent your gear and fuel up on snacks at The Hurricane Ridge Snack Bar and Rental Shop, open from mid-December through the end of March. If snowshoeing is a new endeavor for you, join the 1.5-hour ranger-guided snowshoe walk offered on weekends and holiday Mondays, it covers less than a mile.
Please be aware that during the winter season, Hurricane Ridge Road is open at scheduled times. All vehicles are required to carry chains and must be off the ridge by sunset during the winter season. The Olympic National Park Visitor’s Center at Port Angeles provides a list of businesses that sell chains. Call the Road & Weather Hotline at (360) 565-3131 for current information or follow HRWinterAccess on Twitter for road updates and visit www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/hurricane-ridge-in-winter.htm
4. Hike Lover’s Lane Loop
At six-miles roundtrip, the romantic Lover’s Lane Loop leads you along the Sol Duc River through a lush old-growth forest. Find the slightly hidden trailhead at Sol Duc Campground Loop B near the restrooms. There’s a small parking area next to the trailhead. Along the way, you will cross a wooden bridge and a boardwalk over a bog. You will hear the thundering sounds of Sol Duc Falls before you catch sight of them. Shrouded in mist, you can see rainbows when the sun is out. Keep your eyes peeled for cutthroat and steelhead salmon that run in the fall and winter.
Do research before you go as Sol Duc River Road may be closed in winter due to snowfall. Check here for road conditions www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/current-road-conditions.htm
5. Soak in Hot Springs
Relax and enjoy a soak together in Olympic National Park’s mineral hot springs at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. Get there early to avoid the crowds and bring your own towel.
The resort closes in winter so it isn’t an option for Valentines Day – consider giving your partner a gift to visit the outdoor hot springs. (www.olympicnationalparks.com/lodging/sol-duc-hot-springs-resort/)
6. Bathe by the Beach
The Quileute Oceanside Resort, completely surrounded by Olympic National Park, is in La Push right on First Beach. Get a deluxe cabin with a jetted tub next to a large window overlooking the beach. You can soak in a steamy bath while watching the drama during storm-watching season. If you’re brave, don your wetsuit and venture just steps to the beach to experience the battering. (quileuteoceanside.com)
7. Sleep on a Sailboat in the San Juan Islands
What’s more romantic than spending the night on a sailboat docked at Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands? The 60-foot Slow Season has been the only floating bed and breakfast in the San Juans since 1986. Below the deck, hang out in the living area’s antique furnishings and couch. There also are two spacious, private staterooms, and a sky-lit main salon next to the main galley. Wake up to a wonderful European-style breakfast with coffee. (www.thewharfside.com)
To get there, take the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes, Wash., which is 2 hours and 45 minute-drive from Port Angeles. You will need a reservation. Please refer to ferry system recommendations for how early to arrive. www.fridayharbor.com/island-information/getting-here-getting-around/