How can there still be secrets on the Olympic Peninsula?

It’s only about a 60-mile square with one extra-big side, and humans have lived there for millennia. Sure, it’s home to everything from rain forests to high culture, an entire mountain range, and eight Indian reservations, but can it still hold surprises?

Thank the unusual geography of the Olympics; the peninsula’s center is a near-impassable cluster of peaks, the tallest—Olympus—named by a British explorer in 1788 for the home of the Greek gods. The thick forests around them fed a timber industry that still endures today, but the region’s isolation kept big cities from sprouting. Ringed by two-lane Highway 101, the whole region is ideally suited to a scenic drive, the kind of getaway where the journey has to be the destination.

Without a major hub or a single freeway, the Olympic Peninsula remains a series of eclectic arts communities and no-frills fishing towns, of surf beaches and some of the wildest hiking routes in the state. During the world wars, it was the bulwark that stuck out like a thumb from the rest of the Washington fist to protect the shipyards and military installations of Puget Sound. The result: a peninsula where the best attractions are spread wide, often down a nondescript back road or barely there trail.

The Olympics’ namesake was Zeus’s home base, a place where immortals sat on thrones and humans weren’t welcome. The American version is just a bit more accessible, its pleasures much more diverse. But with the misty waterfalls inside the state’s only rain forest and relics of a past era half buried in the earth, it can still feel otherworldly.

In This Feature:

Secrets of the Olympic Peninsula: 25 Hidden Gems Waiting Across the Sound

From forgotten history to fresh-from-the-farm cider to a valley of 10,000 waterfalls, there's so much to discover in our state's greenest corner.

07/20/2017 By Allison Williams

First Time in the Olympic Peninsula? Here's What to See.

Scenic vistas, stunning beach walks, and main street strolls: Here's what should be on any first-timer's to-do list.

07/20/2017 By Allison Williams