US 101 Along Washington’s Hood Canal

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You don’t have to travel far from Sea-Tac Airport to begin experiencing the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  A short drive down Interstate 5 takes you to the starting point of one of America’s great roads – US 101.

Hood Canal, Washington State, US 101

US 101 quickly changes from freeway, to 4-lane highway, to 2-lane byway.  For much of its journey north, it travels along the Hood Canal, which connects with Puget Sound.  Watch for roadside pull-outs that allow direct access to the water.

Hood Canal, Washington State, US 101

This location is one of the first pull-outs you’ll pass, once you reach Hood Canal.  If you’re lucky, the sky will be as blue as the water.  Of course, this is the Pacific Northwest….

Hood Canal, Washington State, US 101

State Parks are abundant throughout Washington, and you’ll pass more than a half dozen as you head up US 101 along the Hood Canal.  Unfortunately, they aren’t free.  You’ll have to shell out $5 for parking every time you stop, or risk being ticketed.

The Road to Hamma Hamma Campground

Road to Hamma Hamma Campground

On a whim, I turned off US 101 headed towards the Hamma Hamma campground.  This 2-lane road provided an occasional good view of the mountains, but after a few miles, it didn’t lead to anything interesting, so I turned back.

Hamma Hamma River, Olympic Peninsula

The Hamma Hamma Campground is right next to the Hamma Hamma River.  Where did those blue skies go?

The Olympic National Forest surrounds most of Olympic National Park.  If you plan to hike or camp in the forest, you’ll need to purchase a pass (yes, even if you plan only a quick hike).

Along Hood Canal, WA

Hood Canal, Olympic Peninsula, Washington

Back along the Hood Canal, the skies were clearer.  This scenic turnoff near Brinnon, Washington provided free parking and a great view of the water.

Hood Canal, Olympic Peninsula, Washington

Most Odd-numbered US highways run north-south, but US 101 is a bit different, especially on the Olympic Peninsula. Without ever making a U-turn, you can travel on 101 North, 101 West, and 101 South, as the highway encircles the peninsula.

Note: This trip was first published in 2004.

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