Travel destinations in Grays Harbor County, Washington State
Grays Harbor Ocean Beaches
The county boasts over 50 miles of sandy beaches. Some activities are allowed on these beaches that are not allowed further north in the national park: you can bring your dog on the beach, evening bonfires are allowed (within 150 feet of any dune grass), and you can drive on the hard sand of the upper part of the beach in certain places. Clam mining is permitted on limited dates set by the Ministry of Ecology. From south to north, here are the highlights of Grays Harbor beaches:
Far Grace Harbor
Completed in 1898, this lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Washington State.
Westhaven State Park
The wide sandy beach, crumbling sand cliffs and huge cliffs on the south pier provide plenty of opportunities for play. This park is the center of ocean surfing in the county.
Town of Westport in Grays Harbor
Ocean fishing, whale and seabird watching charters can be hired at the large marina. A three-story observation tower at the north end of town gives views of the marina, the harbor, the south pier and across to Ocean Shores.
City of Ocean Shores in Grays Harbor
It is the largest resort town on the coast, filling an 8-mile long peninsula. Highlights of the peninsula are Damon Point State Park for harbor views and wildlife, North Pier where the big ocean waves come in, the canals and Duck Lake where you can rent an electric party boat, horse rentals on the beach and Indian Casino at Quinault Beach Resort. Copalis Beach.
If you want an ocean beach all to yourself, try Griffiths-Priday Ocean State Park near the town of Copalis Beach. You have to cross a stream on foot which keeps cars and crowds away. North on Roosevelt Beach Road you can reach the beach and reach two landmarks: 1.) Copalis Rock, an isolated sea cliff with a flock of seagulls nesting on top and 2.) Copalis State Airport where planes land right on the sand – the only such airport in the lower 48 states.
From Copalis Beach to the north, the highway climbs up a cliff and winds through beautiful, windswept forest with sparse ocean peaks. Along this route are the towns of Seabrook, Pacific Beach and Moclips. Seabrook is a brand new purpose built holiday resort town with beautiful architecture. The city organizes public events open to visitors. Pacific Beach has retained a small retail core (groceries, gasoline, kites, coffee shop, restaurant, boutiques, and antique store) and includes Pacific Beach State Park with its campground, grassy dunes, and a large creek crossing the beach. Moclips has the Museum of the North Beach, documenting the area’s history as a beach resort since the early 1900s.
Indian Nation Cinema
Highway 109 ends in Taholah, the main town of the Quinaults. There is a seafood processing plant here, where you can buy the unique blue salmon from the Kino River. At the administration building, you can purchase a day pass to enjoy the tribal beaches. These include the rocky beach off Tahola, where you can see the mouth of the Quinault River, the sea cliffs of Cape Elizabeth, and giant logs along the beach of fallen spruce trees more than 200 feet tall. At the southern end of the reserve is the undiscovered jewel of the coast, Point Grenville, with its collection of rocks, a hidden volcanic beach above a six-foot rock wall and an offshore reef of volcanic rocks. These are the only volcanic rocks for hundreds of miles around.
Grays Harbor Wildlife
Lots of wildlife can be found along this coast including: a flock of pelicans flying around the Westport South Jetty, deer all around Ocean Shores, a blue heron on Duck Lake, the cutest white spotted baby seal at Damon Point State Park, eagles along the cliffs between Copalis and Pacific Beach and flocks of gulls and sandpipers up and down the coast.
Grays Harbor Lake Cinema
Lake Quinault is located on the southwestern border of Olympic National Park. Spend your first full day here driving the loop around the lake and up into the upper Quinault River Valley, which is formed by North Shore Road, South Shore Road, and Highway 101. Along this route, you’ll find many attractions.
History of Lake Quinault
The historic Lake Quinault Lodge was built in 1926 over an amazing 53 days. It replaced the 1880 Log Hotel, which had burned down two years earlier. The lodge has an excellent restaurant, the Roosevelt Room – named after President Theodore Roosevelt, who visited in 1937. From the wide grassy lawn you can enjoy spectacular views of the lake. There is a lakeside trail, fire pit and boat rentals on the lakefront. Along North Shore Road, the park service is restoring the Kestner homestead from the early 1900s. A 3/4 mile trail takes you through a beautiful forest and opens onto the fields of the former farm. A dilapidated delivery truck rusting in a field and full of vines is one of the most fascinating sights.
Grays Harbor Rainforest
Near Lake Quinault Lodge is the 1/2-mile Lake Forest Loop trail, which winds through a mossy forest of spruce, Douglas fir and cedar trees. An entirely different rainforest is found on the Kestner Homestead, or Maple Meadow Trail, mentioned above. This forest is also thick with moss, but the trees are mostly tall big leaf maples.
Ancient trees in Grays Harbor
The Quinault area includes six record-breaking trees of individual species. Two of the most accessible are Quinault Big Cedar, a half-mile walk from North Shore Road, and Big Spruce just off South Shore Road near Highway 101. Big Cedar looks more like a ruin than a tree. Barely alive – with only a few green branches high overhead. At ground level the tree is all rotten and hollow. You can stand inside it, look up and see daylight hundreds of feet above you.
Mountain views in Grays Harbor
Much of your view of the Olympics in this area is blocked by the tall trees and nearby hills, but the higher peaks can be seen in a few places: 1.) from Highway 101 at the west end of the lake, where there is currently a clear an opening in the trees where a fine view of the lake and the mountains beyond may be seen; 2.) you can drive 10 miles on well-maintained dirt roads to Mt Higley – many views of the snow-capped peaks can be seen along this route; and 3.) from South Shore Road up into the river valley you can see some higher mountains.
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