Part 3 of 3: Travel to CO Friend, Dunes & Waterfall

The next few days was a combination of travel, heading south for two new experiences: a stop for lunch in Woodland Park, then further south to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park. 

Do you know the on-line game Words With Friends? I played a few years ago with my mom and a sister. I continued to play, they did not. Most players do not use the chat feature; however, Beth did. Through chatting, Beth and I compared the weather between Colorado and Arizona. Long story short, while in Colorado I texted her, we met for lunch with a great view of Pike’s Peak from Woodland Park, and I enjoyed meeting her with a delicious lunch too. Her niece ran the Pikes Peak Marathon a few days later and Beth texted saying her niece won the women’s division! Wow!

Great Sand Dunes National Park is a couple of hours drive from the interstate. I have always wanted to visit and this trip I was going to make it happen! I immediately felt the elevation as I was hiking on the sand dunes. It is over 8500 feet and the summit is a few thousand feet higher which I did not accomplish (8500 feet is my comfort, beyond can be an issue). The wind had flags straight out as I walked in the sand and felt like it could push me over. I got out of the wind in some places to watch people “sled” down the dune. It was hilarious to watch the varying degrees of expertise and I did feel bad for the guy who “sand-boarded” the dune quite successfully for 3/4 of it, but face-planted at the end! 

I met an Orlando, Florida couple who had questions about my van. They are backpackers who currently travel via their Honda Element and looking to buy a van. All that they said sounded like my story!

Great Sand Dunes Basin
Sled down a dune
Dig in the sand
See the child digging in the sand?
Hikers at top of the dune in the cloud … I see them!

Zapata Falls is a must-do hike!

Close to the national park is Zapata Falls. They need to update the sign at the entrance as the 2.5 miles road to the trailhead is now paved. The trail to the falls though is very rocky, steep in a short section as you gain from 9000 to 9200 feet.

The real challenge came when crossing the stream flowing from the falls. Ice cold water flowing over many rocks, some with algae; looking just a bit slippery. There were 4 crossings and then you had to lean over at one point to get a photo of the 30 foot high falls! No way was I standing in 3 – 4 feet of ice cold water to get a photo of the complete falls. If you go on this hike, bring hiking poles for the stream crossings to make your life easier. At 2 points, helping hands made my rock-jumping a bit safer. Very kind people!

Zapata Falls

Walking back to the trailhead I talked with a Colorado couple. They love to fish and have been to college and lived in different parts of Colorado. As I was pulling away in the van, the woman caught up with me … she wanted to be sure I had seen her t-shirt. I like it!

You never know what people will share with you in a day!

At nighttime I did have an altitude headache even though I was sleeping at 6000 feet. A couple of Advil took care of it for a good night’s sleep.

Part 2 of 3: A CO Canyon, Meditation Center & Bike Ride

After a delicious breakfast at may favorite cafe in LaPorte, I spent a couple of hours bird watching at Watson Lake. At first, it was so quiet I wondered where are the birds! Then squawking Canada geese, about 50, flew in. A couple of mallards and two common mergansers were on the lake. I checked the eagle nests, as I always do when here, and no eagles around. 

Common merganser
American robin staring me down
Watson Lake

A visit to Poudre Canyon was recommended by a friend, so it was my next place to visit. Since I always like to see more the countryside, I drove a road to the north … Red Feather Lake area to circle down to the canyon area. I guess if you look very closely to your Google map you’ll see the approximately 15 mile dirt road, but I figured if there is a Boy Scout camp on the road, it cannot be bad. The road was perfect until 2 miles after the camp. It was drivable and the van had no problem. All of a sudden I see a stupa, hidden and off in the distance. I back-up the van and drive into Drala Mountain Center. Okay, their roads were rutty and I wondered if this was a good idea, but I wanted to see the stupa.

All I saw of the stupa from the dirt road

Did I mention it is raining now? Also, I see signs thanking firefighters. From this area and to my eventual Poudre Canyon, there definitely was a wildfire. I work my way up to the stupa … it is huge! So huge you can go in and meditate along with what looks like it could hold 50 seated people. No one ever stopped me while I was on the property and others were meditating in the stupa with me. One woman did say hello, otherwise some were returning from a hike. This place is at 8,000 foot elevation and 600 acres. 

My research indicates Drala Mountain Center offers Buddhist meditation and yoga retreats. The center did survive the Cameron Peaks wildfire which lasted 62 days and burned over 200,000 acres, encompassing Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in 2 counties and Rocky Mountain National Park. Finally contained December 2, 2020. It became the largest recorded wildfire in Colorado’s history, surpassing the Pine Gulch Fire that burned near Grand Junction in 2020.

Stupa at Drala Mountain Center

The Buddhist statue within the stupa is the “Teaching Buddha”, appropriate for those who are either studying or are interested in learning more about spirituality at this center.

Teaching Buddha

Wildfire scars and burned areas are still evident in the Poudre Canyon area. It is a beautiful area to visit, many campgrounds in the national forests and places to fish. It is almost impossible to capture the huge rock formations in a photo, but here are a few:

Stream in Poudre Canyon
Profile Rock
Huge rocks … see Profile Rock?

The next day was a non-driving day. It looked like rain, and did rain, but then I hopped on my bicycle and enjoyed a ride on the Poudre River Trail. I veered off when close to downtown Fort Collins and went exploring. That was fun!

Part 1 of 3: Driving to Fort Collins, Colorado

I left Grand Junction’s high desert, on the western slope, and am driving toward the Rocky Mountains. Driving this section of the interstate was a first for me. I especially loved the area between Rifle and Vail. Fifteen years ago I played a tennis tournament in Vail, but arrived there from the Denver airport. So approaching it from the western side was a first for me and absolutely beautiful with the various landscapes.

Every 2 – 3 hours I stop and stretch my legs. I never know what will be in the area; it is simply my time to relax from driving. A half hour from my final destination, the campground, I saw on my Google map a Chapunga (Cha-POONG-goo) Sculpture Park, so decided to stop there as it was just off the interstate. The park is, the largest art center in the USA, devoted to stone sculptors in Zimbabwe, Africa. Wow, all the sculptures are hand-carved by present day Shona people in Zimbabwe! As you walk around the park, you see a variety of sculptures. It was the perfect place for me to walk, relax and see interesting art work.

“Mawuya Welcome: My home is your home! You Will share all I have.”
“My talents are simple, yet they bring much joy to the people of my village.”

Interested in this artwork? There are many more sculptures in this park, so do visit the park. I continued on to the campground and decided to drive through Loveland from the south east, then north to Fort Collins, where my campground is located. Loveland is mostly urban with some agricultural land, a quaint downtown, other sculpture gardens, golf courses, huge high school, a variety of housing and plenty of stores. It is also a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and in the past that was the only road I knew of in Loveland. I grabbed my dinner at the Sprouts deli in town then continued on. Between Loveland and Fort Collins are natural areas and a reservoir I have visited on past trips. I am finally at my campground to walk around the pond here and enjoy the evening!

Part 2 of 2: Hiking at Colorado National Monument

At the southern end of Grand Junction is Colorado National Monument which extends about 20 miles. The National Park Service employee at the entrance collects your fee or pass at the start of a scenic drive within red rock canyons, sandstone cliffs, and valley floor where the Ute tribe spent many seasons living off the land. I was amazed to see this edge of the Colorado Plateau with all its color and rock formations. There are numerous viewpoints and I stopped at just about all of them. 

Colorado National Monument

The sky was clear, sunny and blue. Some ambitious bicyclists were on the road, steep uphills till reaching the top of the plateau, then through 3 tunnels as we all traveled the length of this National Monument. One couple showed me photos of their sighting that morning of 2 bighorn sheep jumping around on the cliff edges. I was ahead of them on the road and did not see the animals, yet I was sure to keep my eyes on the road! Many places had no guardrails.

Colorado National Monument

National Park or Monument; that is the question.

John Otto was the man who came to the Grand Valley (as this area is often called), loved the canyons, and wanted to protect them. He worked for years to encourage President Taft to designate this area a national park. May 1911, President Taft instead designates it a national monument. John Otto celebrated by climbing, with his climbing partner, Independence Monument. Each July 4th, local rock climbers climb “Otto’s Route” and raise an American flag on Independence Monument. Thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corp, young men in President Roosevelt’s time, accomplished amazing road work for visitors to have access to this monument. 

From the scenic drive, past Independence Monument to Grand Junction.
Independence Monument; ready to climb?

The visitor center has an excellent 18 minute film so be sure to check it out. There is a campground and picnic area a short distance from the center. There are longer hiking trails on the valley floor. It was too hot for anyone to be down there on this day. I walked every short trail with viewpoints. A couple trails had interpretive signs with info about Utah juniper, pinyon pine, Mormon tea, water flow, other fauna and flora, and the history of the area.

View from Grand View.

Other news on this day:

I drove through Fruita, a very, very small town known for mountain biking. (Could not find a laundromat even though the guy who sold me ice thought there was one in this town.) Grand Junction is trying to be a road biking area. I drove the backroads to my campground, rather than the interstate, and discovered an REI! 

While talking with various people at the national monument, I think one woman said it best: a person needs to decide if they like western-slope-living. That’s it! I have been trying to figure out why I have been so hesitant in liking this area despite it having red rocks and sunshine. Western slopes lack the trees and green an upstate New Yorker loves. No amount of tree planting in Grand Junction will do it for me.

While I understand my feelings, I do hope to visit here again. Three future stops: one, visit the Grand Mesa (largest mesa in the world, which is the Colorado Plateau), two, visit Black Canyon, and three, visit Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse area in DeBeque, Colorado in the spring or fall when wild mustangs are there. I will certainly visit the Colorado National Monument again and hope to see the bighorn sheep, and maybe even see a white-tailed antelope squirrel and pinyon mouse.

That is what it looks like!
It would be a challenge to find!

Earlier in the morning, I actually searched out a place to play Pickleball. I did play one game. They only had 4 courts and people were more interested in playing in their little group … it was not a drop-in arrangement … so I drove to the national monument earlier than I first thought. It was a good day. Thankfully I am flexible! Tomorrow I leave for Fort Collins, Colorado.

Another view
A view before I head down to the valley.

Part 1 of 2: Bicycling in Grand Junction, Colorado

Never been to Grand Junction, Colorado so all the more reason to add it to my travel plan! Isn’t that what travel is all about? Mix in favorite locations with new ones and your adventure continues! Thanks to conversations with two couples I met on the Riverfront Bicycling Trail, I learned about this area. I met them at different locations so I counted those moments as breathers on my bicycle ride.

This day was my non-driving day; I have them every so often to offset long driving days. So I bicycled the Riverfront Trail from my campground on the eastern side of Grand Junction to Fruita, a mountain biking town I always heard about, on the western side of Grand Junction. The bicycle path parallels the Colorado River. On one side, the path passes parks, a wildlife refuge, a disc golf area, a golf course, red rocks in the distant hills, and of course the river with some floating rafters. There are plenty of benches to sit and contemplate the world. On the other side, the path has an industrial look with businesses and future real estate being developed. One area had Airstreams as Air BNB’s. I also bird-watched as I cycled along.

Air BnB’s are in all shapes & sizes!
Colorado River & Colorado National Monument in background.
Great blue heron flew back & forth between 2 locations on the river.

I spoke with a “walking-on-the-trail” couple who grew up in Grand Junction, stayed 54 years. I walked with them while we talked. She is planting trees and supporting work for 9 more miles of bicycle trail. He is a city government employee. We talked about the new housing/condos to be built within the next 3 years on what I previously referred to as industrial. He agreed with my assessment of Grand Junction to become a road bicycling magnet and Fruita a mountain biking magnet. He said the snow plow was out only 6 times this past winter, it does stay cold, and they have many days of sunny, blue skies. This is high desert, 4500 feet elevation, and not as touristy and expensive as places like Glenwood Springs. Some inversions in winter, but 245 days of sunshine making it the sunniest city in Colorado. We talked about the homeless people; they are here as in many places I visited. There is a long way between this western city and any other place so I am not sure where homeless go in the winter.

Another “bike-riders-on-the-trail” couple were really fascinating. They are local realtors and been here for 20 years. He made a funny comment, not believing he would stay in what he thought was an ugly place. But he eventually found the downhill skiing and especially the cross-country skiing on the huge mesa here good. Plus the road & mountain bicycling opportunities and time on the Colorado River a surprise. We talked about housing. He pointed to the million dollar house locations, close to the foothills of the national monument; however; there is housing at all price tags. As in any town, finding what works is the challenge. Another interesting point was use of the local Walker airport. They go through TSA checks, onto the airplane quickly to fly to a hub. They catch their next plane with ease compared to going to the big city. Interesting!

In the closing miles of my bicycle ride, I stopped at a mountain biking course where young riders were competing. Wonderful seeing young people outdoors and active. At another location, I watched a quarterhorse competition. Many horse ranches are on this side of town. Tomorrow, I continue exploring.

I wanted to get out on the course too! Looked like fun!
I cannot ride a horse to save my life. In my estimation, these riders were fantastic!

Days In Idaho

After bicycling in the Couer D’Alene, Idaho area, I drove through Montana to visit with my friend and her husband for a few days in Ashton, Idaho. They own a beautiful log home and across the river from their land is a good-sized waterfall! It is country-living … quiet all the time, often a starry night sky, some misty mornings, and other mornings with sunny blue summer/fall sky allowing time to enjoy cups of coffee on an east deck and then their west deck as we watch natural grasses and trees sway in the breeze and an osprey or bald eagle fly by … simple beauty and relaxation! My friend shared the Idaho specialties: trout, potatoes and chokecherry jam into meals I will never cook during my van travel, so I loved it all.

Home sweet home!

It is always wonderful to be outdoors! Upon my arrival, we floated down Henry’s Fork of the Snake River , each in a pontoon boat for more than a couple of hours. The river current was moving right along. No amount of rowing would allow us to row against it when wanting to touch base with each other, so we simply went with the flow! An osprey with a fish within its talons and at least 3 bald eagles were seen. We did not get to wet with the white-capped waves or hitting any rocks in our path. The car and trailer had been shuttled to our endpoint; so easy to enjoy the activity.

Putting in at the river.

Places to visit:

I never visited this part of Idaho before, so we took walks at Mesa Falls State Park and saw the Lower and Upper Falls. Photos below of them; the Upper Falls with the rainbow. We noticed a sign posted warning of bears in the area. No problem for us as that was not where we would take a longer hike. 

Lower Mesa Falls
Upper Mesa Falls

We went on to Harriman State Park. As a New Yorker, I recognized W. Averell Harriman’s name. In 1902 this land was a cattle ranch where wealthy easterners retreated in summer. Railroad magnate W. Averell Harriman and his brother in 1977 donate the ranch to Idaho. There are more than 15,000 acres of land with many trails. As we walked a trail it was obviously used also by mountain bikers and equestrians. It would be a great place for more exploration.

Harriman State Park is also wildlife refuge.

When I mentioned T.A. Moulton’s barn in Wyoming’s Teton National Park to my friend, she knew a bike ride we could do in that area. We drove from ID to WY and started our ride under an overcast sky. The Teton Mountains were not the clearest, but we had hours to let nature take its course. We could view them at various spots on our ride.

The first 15 miles of the ride were okay, except the coffee place did not open till noon. Otherwise, we tackled the hill ahead of us, did miss seeing 30 buffalo cross the road, and photographed what we thought was the famous barn. The final 4 miles of our 22 mile ride was with a strong cross-wind! With my  handlebar and rear bike rack packs, it was like the cross-wind was hitting a wall. I had an upper body workout holding the bicycle up. We were thrilled when back at the car to load the bikes into it.

After lunch we decided to drive back to the Mormon Row area, with hopes the Teton Mountains might be clearer. We decided to drive down Mormon Row, a gravel road, photograph a few other places, and it is not till later we realize we now truly have the correct barn to label as the T.A. Moulton barn! Thomas Alma Moulton moved to this area in the 1900’s, spent 30 years constructing this barn, and it is the only structure from his homestead still standing!

T.A. Moulton barn

Things I learned about Idaho…

  1. The northern panhandle of Idaho is literally separate from the southern part of the state. That is why I had to drive into Montana to get to my friend’s southeastern ID home. There are no roads from north panhandle to southern part, only 4 different national forests.
  2. Ashton, ID is the largest certified seed potato growing area. While you could grow your own store-bought potato with eyes/sprouts, you may introduce potato disease into your soil which are difficult to get rid of once there. Thus certified seed potatoes are the way to go.
  3. License plates have a code in the first number/letter or two indicating the county a person lives. As a result, when one waves to another while driving by, it is easy to see if the person is from your own county.
  4. Ashton, ID is in the northeast corner of a large valley in this state. I never thought about the valley since I was either heading for the Middle Fork of the Salmon River for white-water rafting or road bicycling in the northern panhandle.

Other Idaho photos:

Idaho sunrise
I
One of many ospreys seen in ID.
One of many bald eagles seen in ID
Teton Mountains
Teton Mountains

Days in Montana

Last night while preparing to get a good night’s sleep for my long drive to Three Forks Montana, the air quality was not good. Fortunately, the air temperature did cool enough for me to only use the front door air vents. In the morning my weather app indicated poor air quality due to wildfire smoke. I witnessed the smoke across Wallace Idaho where many were attending a flea market under the interstate and across much of Montana. Finally about 50 miles beyond Butte, the sky cleared of smoke and was blue; sunglass time again!

Montana’s interstate speed limit is 80 mph. I am comfortable driving the van at 75. Years ago, on our way to a bicycling tour in Wallace, we stopped in Missoula. So just like driving through Wallace, I did the same in Missoula. Both towns have really populated. I stopped in Butte, it too is larger than past stop here, to do my food shopping. As I was parking, I noticed a guy carrying ice to his camper. After talking with the couple, I learned that a short walk away was where to get the best priced bag of ice; $1.89 per bag. The store owner was cranking ice out like crazy. He was trying to keep up with demand. Apparently Butte is a high desert town and this is typical weather for them… yikes … get me to the mountains!

Sometimes technology drives me crazy…

I do not know what the issue is with my van’s back-up camera/radio. First, the back-up camera was on as I drove forward for a few miles. I drove on to a place where I could stop and start the van again. Now the display/radio was black and no radio or media connection was working. A few miles down the road, the radio came on again and when I went to back-up into a parking area, that camera worked!! For the next couple of days … as I write this … all is working!

Welcome to Montana: I got my first mosquito bite, entered a different time zone, magpies and yellow jackets are numerous, and a bag of ice at the campground cost $3.75. This state is correctly referred to as “Big Sky” Country since you look across fields, ranches, and between mountain peaks and the rest is big sky! Unfortunately much of it these days is in wildfire smoke.

Places visited:

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park: It is smoky here. My goal in the heat and smoke was to hike the Greer Gulch Nature Loop and Trail … just over 2.0 miles. When I paid my $8.00 entrance fee the woman said the trail is mostly in the trees. I was glad to hear that since it was already 74 degrees and on its way to a 90 degree day, but I should be done with this trail before we reach the high temperature.

I walked to the trailhead and there is a sign about possible black bear in the area. Interesting, no one at the visitor center mentioned this to me. I know when we visited Glacier National Park, a few years ago, (256 miles from here) we had bear spray. So I carried my pepper spray, wore my emergency whistle on my backpack and made noise … saying Yahoo, hello, and my walking meditation aloud … to warn any black bear munching on trailside berries. No bear to report on this hike; however, in 2 different locations I flushed out mule deer. (Those deer were as surprised as I was!) More people were at this park for the cavern tours.

Interesting last line on this sign … what kind of person would remove it?
Plenty of switchbacks
Wildfire smoke in the air so distant mountains are tough to see.

Iron Horse Cafe: The campground host was telling us all to stop here for pie! In my limiting the amount of wheat I eat, I organized my meals so I could indulge in one slice of cherry almond crisp pie. The cherries were whole and huge; the pie delicious! Worthy of a visit here.

Madison Buffalo Jump State Park: A few miles off Interstate 90 is this state park. A quarter mile uphill hike to the interpretative exhibit clarifies where the Native Americans drove the bison over the limestone cliff. Bison were used in so many ways for these people. My photo and the exhibit sign will hopefully clarify it all for you.

Compare this with photo below
Compare with exhibit sign above

Bleu Horses: A long-time Montana metal sculptor, Jim Dolan, hopes to inspire others to give back to their community, town and state just as he did with these Bleu Horses. The name comes from the blue roan horse which in real life is grayish. There are 39 steel sculptures on a hillside in Three Forks, Montana. I could not get any closer to the sculptures than the photo below and even that I was in a “no parking” area. Take a moment to really look at the sculptures at bleuhorses.com

What you see from a distance, but check the link above for amazing work done per horse!

Missouri Headwaters State Park: I decide to make mybreakfast at this park and to relax in a new location.History buffs would love visiting this area of Montana. While I am drinking my coffee, I am reading the informational exhibits which explain the historical importance of this river. While I walked the trail by a creek, grasshoppers were jumping all over the place and I unfortunately flushed a Wilson’s snipe. I have seen black-billed magpies all over Montana and now remember the last time I saw this bird was in Penticton, Canada. The only other things flying around are yellow-jacket wasps. Anyway, by the confluence of the Missouri River, people were laying in the sun, fishing and hiking. 

People also at the park on this day: I met a recently retired woman from Tucson, Arizona, originally from Couer D’ Alene, Idaho. She is traveling in her fully-equipped van, spending time in Yellowstone Park and then heading back to Tucson. A couple from Orlando, Florida flew in … they love Bozeman airport … and are visiting the area for a week. They thought it would be cooler weather here than home. Not true, smoky hot skies here, but cool nights! Another man, a heavy equipment operator, just finished a job west of the state park. Before he returns to St Louis, Missouri, he is sight-seeing – a perk he loves about his job. 

Museum of the Rockies: Many people asked me if I visited this museum, so I decided an air-conditioned place would be wonderful away from heat and wildfire smoke. Wow, one could spend half a day here! My timing with this visit is perfect. It was the last day of the Living History Farm and the Apsáalooke Women and Warriors exhibit closes the next 2 days to culturally place the sacred war shields in the sun and then be cleaned. 

My first stop: planetarium show on super-volcanoes, then so many exhibits about dinosaurs, fossils and archeological work in Montana, and the Crow Native American culture, history of many things with a combination of murals to read, videos to watch and some items to try. Next door to the museum, the Living History Farm with docents dressed and explaining the history of the place and the Tinsley family in the house here until 1920.

Living History Farm

Photos below: 

Big Mike, is a bronze sculpture of the life-size Tyrannosaurus rex at front door of museum. Many real bones and fossils inside.

Rusty, a draft horse sculpture. In the early 1980’s, Bozeman schoolchildren collected recyclable cans to raise funds to gift Rusty to the museum. Jim Dolan is the sculptor of Rusty – same man who made the 39 Bleu Horses mentioned above.

Big Mike – T rex
Rusty

Seattle Area to Visit a Friend

I left the campground early in the morning and stopped a few places during my 3 hour drive to Seattle. I chose not to take a ferry so I could see the countryside …. more tall trees and the bay shoreline! Point Defiance Park was my first destination. It is a beautiful park with a 5 mile drive, a hiking trail through the park, a rhododendron garden, zoo, aquarium and Owen Beach.

Seeing various towns always makes me wonder, why do people live here? Some people love the crowded busy areas, others like the rural quieter placesI, and often there is someplace in-between! Some are water people and others are mountain people. This area is definitely for water lovers. I drove along the shoreline of Commencement Bay and stopped south of Point Ruston. And for us mountain lovers, here I got my first glimpse of Mount Rainier! No plan to visit it this adventure. Now I was arriving into more populous areas and traffic! The Port of Tacoma is an industrial-looking area as one looks at barges and cranes in the port.

Mount Rainier

It was wonderful to visit with a Seattle friend I had not seen in a few years. How could I not love relaxing, drinking wine, eating home-cooked meals, doing laundry, not driving, watching tennis on tv, and simply enjoying my friend’s positive energy. We visited Richmond Beach Saltwater Park and Carkeek Park; however, only the usual gulls and crows were around. And that was okay. Walking and talking, and not driving, had its value for me! My water-loving friend lives where she can sail her boat … perfect!

After a few days, I was back on the road driving across the state of Washington. From the cool temperatures of the Olympic Peninsula to 30 degree higher temperatures of Spokane Valley. The very tall trees were left behind to lots and lots of hay being grown in this state. Plenty of wind for the windmills I saw, and then more hay! I knew I was close to a large city when an Amazon distribution center was a short distance off the interstate. Welcome to Spokane! My campground was a few more miles down the road in Spokane Valley.

Part 3 of 3: To the NW edge of the USA!

Olympic National Park is huge and definitely needing more than 3 days to visit it all on our NW edge of the USA. On this day I drove to Cape Flattery. Between where I was camping and the cape, I stopped at a few viewpoints. The town of Sekiu overlooks the Strait of Juan Fuca. Many marinas, fishing boats and people out on the water, along with gulls and cormorants. 

There are eight Native American tribes associated with the park. For my visit to Cape Flattery I needed to purchase a recreational permit to park in the lots and hike in the area. The Makah tribe live in this area. There are many signs to remind visitors of the importance in purchasing a permit so the trails are maintained. From the trail head to the ocean is a .6 mile hike through tall trees, much vegetation and on wooden pathways in some sections. 

Tall trees and everything is green.
Along the coast at the cape.
Weathered limestone leaves sea caves under the cape.

There are gray whales, sea otters and a variety of birds along the NW edge of the USA: Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The lands and waters are managed and protected by Makahs who work with the sanctuary to protect the waters and coastline.

I drove to ShiShi Beach further down the coastline. Arriving late in the day made me realize there was no way to hike the one way 2.5 mile trail to the ocean. I wanted to be back in daylight for my long ride to the campground. I had stopped between the cape and here which burned up time. Here are photos of the area. Many backpackers were about to start their hike to ShiShi Beach to camp for the night.

Coastline just north of ShiShi Beach

On my 3.5 hour drive back to the campground, I stopped at a couple of the Discovery Trail trailheads. If I had more time here I would have bicycled some of the segments of the trail. Eventually the trail will be 130 miles long from Port Townsend to LaPush. LaPush is the beach I visited a couple of days ago on the Pacific Ocean. Someday I will return and visit more areas of Olympic National Park. Tomorrow I am on my way to visit a Seattle area friend.

Remember the cougar info when back to bicycle ride in the area.

Part 2 of 3: Another Day in Olympic National Park 

After a leisurely start to this day, I was on the Hurricane Ridge trails in Olympic National Park. It is a beautiful drive up to this point with many viewpoints along the way. Crazy bicyclists ride up the 18 mile road and then speed down it … reminds me of the Mount Lemmon riders in Tucson, Arizona.

On the Meadow Trail, I saw my first black-tailed deer and then a young one as I hiked up to Sunrise Point. The trails are very easy to hike and the area is simply beautiful. Once upon a time there was an operating ski lift and skiing!

Mount Olympus in that range

Mount Olympus, I think the highest mountain peak here, was behind clouds most of the time. Glacier melt on some of the other mountains the past decades was very obvious according to the signposts and my photo.

Black-tailed deer
Gradual trail up to Sunrise Point

Next stop: Storm King Ranger Station.

From here I had more views of Lake Crescent and took a 1.5 mile hike to Marymere Falls which is also in Olympic National Park. I loved hiking through the very tall trees and seeing the falls, especially since water was flowing!

Marymere Falls

After food shopping in Sequim, WA, I visited the Dungeness Spit. There was a nice trail through the trees and then onto the spit. I heard birds in the woods, but not many easily seen. Many people were walking along the spit with its sand and driftwood on the shore. On my way back to my van, I walked with a family that just moved from Indiana to the Seattle, Washington area. Always interesting to hear another’s story.

One side of Dungeness Spit, Sequim, WA