- Full Itinerary
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- Know Before You Go
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May is a grand time to explore the Olympic Peninsula! Birds are active, flowers burst into bloom, and seabirds are beginning to nest. Our guides share their in-depth knowledge as they lead you through mountains, ocean, forests, meadows, glaciers, and coastal habitats within Washington’s Olympic National Park. Visit lands of the adjacent Makah Nation, two national wildlife refuges, and more.
Three distinct environments provide fabulous Pacific Northwest birding: 1) the only temperate rainforest in the contiguous 48 states; 2) one of the wildest coastlines in the world; and 3) the glacially-carved alpine splendor of the high Olympic Mountains. Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, with its sand spit into the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and Dungeness River Audubon Center provide excellent opportunities for more birds. Having three nights at two lodges on the route helps keep logistics simple. Kalaloch Lodge with its ocean views invites you to immerse in nature, three nights in Sequim give you quick access to national park birding hot spots, and our final night on Bainbridge Island lets you explore a picturesque, artsy harbor town.
The park protects the Olympic Mountains, including Mt. Olympus. It provides habitat to 56 species of mammals, 130+ species of birds (including Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet), and numerous salamanders and other amphibians. The peninsula’s varied terrain is fantastic for birding and photography, as well as wildflower and wildlife viewing. Mammals include Roosevelt Elk, Sea Otter, endemic Olympic Marmot, and Mountain Goat. Learn about the prolific mosses, ferns, both alpine and forest wildflowers, spruces, firs and hemlocks, and cedars. You can be there at the perfect time this spring!
- "It was a great trip! We got 4 life birds, walked 2-4 miles a day and had some good meals. The landscape is just stupendous: Hoh Rainforest, Cape Flattery! There were gorgeous trees, beautiful plants and congenial company. The Hall of Mosses was super, interesting and thought provoking. We stayed at one of the lodges on Olympic National Park and visited another for a great meal. I can’t wait to go back." — Liz Wharton, 2023 Traveler
- "This area has been on my wishlist for a long time. I had no idea how truly beautiful it is. I love birds but also other flora and fauna as well as geology and landscapes." – Kathleen Heitzmann, 2023 Traveler
- Visit Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge to see over 40 bird species, including Rufous and Anna’s Hummingbirds, Pacific Slope Flycatcher, Bewick’s Wren, and Common Yellowthroat
- Stay at the historic Kalaloch Lodge, nestled in a lush, temperate rainforest on the Pacific coast
- Hike through Sitka Spruce Forest to a scenic Pacific beach, with views of stunning sea stacks
- Discover the western side of Olympic National Park, one of the world’s lushest forests
- Drive high into the Olympic Mountains to see wind-sculpted pygmy trees and myriad wildflowers
- Explore Neah Bay and Cape Flattery, the westernmost point of the continental USA
- Enjoy local foods and fun in the Pacific Northwest
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Mon., May 6 : Arrivals in Seattle | Sequim
We pick up at the Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport (within sight of the airport) and other nearby hotels off of International Drive this morning not later than 11:00 AM. We suggest you come in the night before to rest up and be ready for our adventures. Our guides are at this hotel and welcome you to join them for breakfast. If you manage to find an early arriving flight, it’s a quick complimentary shuttle to this hotel.
By 11:00 AM we head out en route to Sequim, one of the prettiest spots on the Olympic Peninsula. First, we make a birding visit to the renowned Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, an Important Bird Area. Enjoy a picnic lunch with the birds. This is a prime time of year to visit, and we hope to find five species of Washington’s swallows, American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, and Great Egret; Bald Eagle, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Northern Harrier, and Red-tailed Hawk; Rufous and Anna’s Hummingbirds; Willow and Pacific Slope Flycatchers; Pacific, Bewick’s, and Marsh Wrens; Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and Wilson’s Warbler; Savannah, White-crowned, and Song Sparrows; Band-tailed Pigeon; and more. We should find over 40 species, while enjoying a leisurely walk on boardwalks and trails.
Nisqually NWR was established in 1974 for the protection of migratory birds and encompasses three thousand acres of salt and freshwater marshes, grasslands, riparian, and mixed forest habitats that provide resting and nesting areas for a wide variety of migratory waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, and wading birds. Recently, this outstanding refuge got even better with the construction of a one-mile boardwalk that leads through salt marsh wetlands to the shores of Puget Sound.
From Nisqually we travel to the Olympic Peninsula where we spend three nights in the town of Sequim. “Sunny Sequim” is ideally located close to numerous birding hot spots, including Olympic National Park. It’s also a great place to find excellent local dining. Our route takes us across the famous Tacoma Narrows Bridge. “Galloping Gertie” has long been replaced by two beautiful, and sturdy, suspension bridges.
Settle into your accommodations, then head up to the rooftop viewing area to sample the view! We gather for a welcome dinner and a chance to get to know your guides and travel companions.
Accommodations at the Holiday Inn Express, Sequim (L,D)
Tues., May 7 : Sequim
Early morning we head out to drive the scenic road up to Hurricane Ridge located at 5,242 feet in Olympic National Park. A winding road takes us through changing vegetation as we climb in elevation; we eventually top out in the alpine for a fabulous view of snow-capped mountains. Along the route, we find the mountain passerines and raptors of the Olympic Peninsula. There are several easy walking paths that offer amazing views of the glaciers and mountains of Olympic National Park, the waterways that surround the peninsula, and Vancouver Island in British Columbia. We may even encounter snow!
While still in the forests, we stop at the park’s main visitor center. Waterfalls and cascades occur alongside the road, and scenic stops abound. The panorama of glacially carved peaks is so abundant here and provides us with amazing scenery and a living geologic classroom. Learn more about the adaptations of plants and animals to high elevation and alpine climates as we search for one of the Olympic Peninsula’s endemic species, the Olympic Marmot.
In the open tundra we may find courting American Pipit and Horned Lark. Among the stunted and wind-sculptured groves of pygmy trees in the Krumholtz zone, we may find Sooty Grouse, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Dark-eyed Junco, and White-crowned Sparrow, or perhaps a McGillivray’s Warbler singing to define its territory. We should also find myriad wildflowers!
Enjoy a picnic lunch and a walk to Hurricane Hill atop Hurricane Ridge for fine views of Olympic peaks and glaciers. In the afternoon, we descend from the mountains to a picturesque overview of the former, and recently removed, dam along the Elwha River. This was the largest dam-removal project in U.S. history and has already yielded a significant increase in the native salmon populations.
Hurricane Ridge has an impressive bird list, including Horned Lark, Canada Jay, Townsend’s Solitaire, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Sooty Grouse, and Anna’s Hummingbird. We also have opportunities to view Black-tailed Deer, Olympic Marmots, Black Bear, and Chipmunks. In the afternoon, we head down the hill and spend time in Port Angeles at locations along Ediz Hook waterfront and the Port Angeles Marina.
Dinner tonight is at a favorite local restaurant.
Accommodations at the Holiday Inn Express, Sequim (B,L,D)
Wed., May 8 : Sequim | Birding Hotspots of the Dungeness Area
Enjoy a full day of birding as we sample the Sequim area hot spots: Dungeness Landing, 3-Crabs, Railroad Bridge Park, Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Cline Spit, and the Dungeness Fish Hatchery. We expect to see over 50 different bird species, just on this day. Here you can photograph, as well as view, birds like colorful California Quail, Anna’s and Rufous Hummingbirds, Steller’s Jay, and a variety of songbirds often posing at feeders.
Trails of Railroad Bridge Park, where an outstanding nature center is located, give us a chance to look for Swainson’s Thrush, Pacific-slope and Willow Flycatchers, Western Tanager, Evening Grosbeak, Orange-crowned and Wilson’s Warblers, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and four species of vireos: Hutton’s, Warbling, Cassin’s, and Red-eyed Vireos. The sheltered waters and mudflats, along with the spit itself, provide great habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds. Among other birds, we could see Brant, Pacific, and Common Loons, Western Grebe, Rhinoceros Auklet, Pigeon Guillemot, Common Murre, Western and Glaucous-winged Gulls, and a few shorebirds. We walk a short distance onto the spit and then back again, getting a good idea of which species are around, while enjoying the great views from this natural wonder.
Driving back to our lodgings at Sequim, we see a bit of the history of the Dungeness area—old schoolhouses and picturesque barns dot the landscape. If time permits, we may go over to see Rhinoceros Auklet and other seabirds at a stop at the rock jetty of John Wayne Marina. Sequim has become a popular spot for growing lavender and has some wonderful restaurants—we sample another tonight.
Accommodations at the Holiday Inn Express, Sequim (B,L,D)
Thurs., May 9 : Kalaloch | Makah Tribal Lands & Cape Flattery
This morning we venture out along the very scenic Highway 112 to Cape Flattery, which is the farthest northwest point in the lower 48 and is located on the Makah Tribe reservation. It is impressive for its remoteness, scenic beauty, and insight into native cultures. The route is winding and passes through a mix of pristine forest areas and vast clear-cut areas, bringing the logging history of the peninsula quickly into perspective. Part of it parallels the coast, where Bald Eagle are a common sighting. Near Neah Bay we find many Red Cedar in the forests. This tree was vitally important to the culture and remains so today.
In the village of Neah Bay, we enjoy the impressive Makah Museum and explore the bay shore, looking for Purple Sandpiper on the rock jetty. We then take a hike on a tribal trail to Cape Flattery, where from a viewing area we look off to a seabird nesting island. Watch for Tufted Puffin, Sooty Shearwater, Brown Pelican, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Black Oystercatcher, both Western and Glaucous-winged Gulls, and Caspian Tern. Mammals that we watch from this scenic perch include Sea Otter and Harbor Seal. Neah Bay is one of the most important hotspot areas in Washington State and is famous for rarities because it sits at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is just around the corner from the open sea.
From Neah Bay it is a two-hour drive down the coast to Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park, where we spend three nights. The ocean view is dramatic! Settle into your accommodations and enjoy dinner at the lodge in their lovely dining room looking out to the ocean. Evenings we typically tally up the day’s species list.
Accommodations in cabins at Kalaloch Lodge, Olympic National Park (B,L,D)
Fri., May 10 : Kalaloch | Coastal Coves & Temperate Rainforest
Kalaloch Lodge sits on the edge of the sea bluff and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Here the freshwater Kalaloch Creek finds the salt water. This opportunity for fresh water is a bird paradise where numerous species of birds come to bathe and wash off the salt water. Whales and seals are often seen from shore. From Kalaloch it is a short drive to the Hoh Rainforest of Olympic National Park, which is part of the largest temperate rainforest in the world.
Today we explore a loop trail in perhaps the park’s most famous site, which showcases the finest temperate rain forest in Olympic National Park. Experience the splendor of the cathedral-like Hoh Rainforest while searching for ancient forest birds and wildlife. Massive Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock dominate the rainforest, with giant Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Red Alder, and Vine Maple growing alongside in smaller numbers.
The west side of Olympic National Park is one of the world’s wettest places, and myriad plant species thrive here. We examine mosses, ferns, liverworts, fungi, and wildflowers galore. Big-leaf Maple is perhaps the most memorable tree species here, with oddly sculptured trunks and branches. These trees also exhibit a strange adaptation: they send rootlets into their burden of lush mosses and epiphytes. Starting with Banana Slug, we observe the intricate web of ecological relationships. Above us stand mighty trees, giants of another era, and nest sites for rare Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl. Under the intricate canopy of these lush forests, we look for feeding flocks of Townsend’s Solitaire, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Townsend’s Warbler, and Olive-sided Flycatcher. On large Black Cottonwoods along rushing streams, we may find Orange-crowned Warbler, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Western Tanager, or chattering above us, Vaux’s Swift. With luck, we may encounter the forest-dwelling Roosevelt Elk. After walking among the forest giants, some of which are over 500 years old, and a picnic lunch, we continue on our way.
There is no other place in the world with the intense plant biodiversity as the rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula. In the afternoon, we visit Lake Quinault and the historic Lake Quinault Lodge of the Olympic National Forest and Quinault Tribe, enjoying an early dinner in their historic dining room.
Accommodations at Kalaloch Lodge (B,L,D)
Sat., May 11 : Kalaloch | Coastal Walks & Birding
A short drive north of Kalaloch is the small, but famous town of Forks, Washington. Forks became famous with the release of the Twilight books and movies. In addition to vampires and werewolves, Forks and the Quileute Tribe have a long and interesting history on the Olympic Peninsula. Forks has a Timber Museum and a great birding trail.
Adjacent to Forks, the Quileute Tribe has a great location at 1st Beach with stunning views of Sea Stacks (rock pillars rising from the ocean floor), and of course birds and wildlife. Locations include La Push, Rialto Beach, Mora, and the Quileute Harbor. There are a number of short hikes we can take to sample varied habitat and viewpoints.
Today is a fine day to focus in on plant life as well as the birds, and we enjoy another good dinner in the cozy dining room of our lodge.
Accommodations at Kalaloch Lodge, Olympic National Park (B,L,D)
Sun., May 12 : Bainbridge
After breakfast, we head back north across the Olympic Peninsula and travel along the extraordinarily beautiful, glacially-carved Crescent Lake, located within Olympic National Park, with a stop at Lake Crescent Lodge on the Barnes Peninsula to view American Dipper, Western Tanager, Hammond’s Flycatcher, and Red-breasted Nuthatch. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the final paperwork that created Olympic National Park in 1938. Shortly after, he visited the Olympic Peninsula and stayed at Lake Crescent Lodge. There is a lot of great history on this small bit of land that jets out into Lake Crescent. The lake is also a geological wonder at 624 feet deep, with the bottom of the lake being below sea level.
From Lake Crescent we continue across the Olympic Peninsula to the Kitsap Peninsula, and then onto Bainbridge Island where we spend our final night. Getting an early start, we visit the historic town of Port Townsend along the way. In early May its prime time for seeing rhododendrons in bloom. Fort Worden State Park, best known as the set for the film, An Officer and a Gentleman, is also an outstanding area for seabirds due to the tidal mixing of currents near the Port Wilson Light House. Common Murre, Ancient and Marbled Murrelets, Pacific, Red-throated, and Common Loons, and Harlequin Duck are all possible here. A Great Horned Owl is often at home in some of the large trees around the buildings. After walking around the scenic lighthouse area with sweeping views of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Whidbey Island, and both Cascade and Olympic Mountain peaks, we head just a few miles to Kah Tai Wetlands to look for a large variety of wintering waterfowl and sparrows. Here we are likely to see both kinds of scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Common and Hooded Mergansers, American and possibly Eurasian Wigeons, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Pintail.
Our route takes us across the Hood Canal Bridge, which is the longest floating bridge in the world that crosses over salt water. We arrive in time for you to see a bit of the island and settle into our lodgings to freshen up before our final dinner at a great local restaurant.
Accommodations at Marshall Suites, Bainbridge Island (B,L,D)
Mon., May 13 : Bainbridge Island | Return to Seattle
This morning, we take the Bainbridge ferry across Puget Sound, which offers great views of both the Seattle skyline and the Olympic Mountains—a grand finale to our exploring. Puget Sound is home to a variety of gulls, including Glaucous-winged and small pelagic birds such as Pigeon Guillemot and Rhinoceros Auklet. And there is always a chance to see the resident Orca pods of Washington State.
We time our ferry for mid-morning with plans to be at the airport by 11:30 AM. Please plan on flights out after 1:30 PM. We can also drop you off at the Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport or the airport hotel of your choice if you wish to stay on in Seattle or to take a next day early morning flight. There is a handy light rail public transportation station that makes getting to downtown quite easy.
Cape Flattery by Woody Wheeler
Chickadee, Naturalist Journeys Stock
Sea Otter by Greg Smith
Snowy Plover by Greg Smith
Black-tailed Deer by Woody Wheeler
Upper Dungeness by Woody Wheeler
Hiking, Naturalist Journeys Stock
Cape Flattery, NOAA Photo Library via Wikimedia Commons
Kalaloch Lodge at Olympic National Park by Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons
Rhinoceros Auklet by Don Lambert USFWS via Wikimedia Commons
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the tour is $3590 DBL / $4550 SGL, per person based on double occupancy from Seattle. The cost includes seven nights’ accommodation, all meals as noted in the itinerary with a focus on local dining and ferry transportation during the journey, professional guide services, park and other entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. Not included in the tour cost is round-trip airfare to and from Seattle, personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, and gratuities for luggage handling or other services. Guide gratuities are encouraged, but given at the tour’s end at your discretion. For pre-or-post night accommodations, we recommend the Radisson Seattle Airport hotel. They have a complimentary shuttle from the airport, and there is a public light-rail LINK station close by that gives you access to the city if you wish to explore.
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Arrival and Departure Airport: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive on May 6, 2024 no later than 10:30 AM.
Departure Details: Plan flight departures on May 13, 2024 after 1:30 PM.
Travel Tips: As flights can be delayed, we recommend you arrive a day early and rest up from your travels. There are many hotels near the airport in Seattle and we have a couple of recommendations below. If you want to explore Seattle prior to heading to the Olympic Peninsula, there are plenty of things to do! The Chihuly Garden & Glass is a museum with glass exhibits artistically crafted by Dale Chihuly. There are many fascinating and colorful blown glass sculptures both indoors as well as outside in the garden. The iconic Space Needle is right next door and offers amazing panoramic views of Seattle, Mount Rainier, and Puget Sound. Are shopping and eating local food more your style? Then don’t miss the famous Pike Place Market, one of the oldest continuously operating farmers markets in the United States. You can find just about anything here from fresh fish and produce to crafts and collectibles. There are also many restaurants here and if you’re into seafood, don’t miss the clam chowder! Transportation to downtown is easy with the public light rail system, taxis, and Uber.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
- February 2013
- July 2013
- June 2017
- June 2018
- June 2019
- February 2021
- May 2021
- February 2022
- August 2022
- May 2023
Greg recently retired as the Migratory Species Coordinator for U.S. Forest Service International Programs, working throughout the Western Hemisphere. He is Vice President for Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, serving on the Conservation and Citizen Science committees. For his Ph.D. in Zoology at University of Washington, he studied the coloration and behavior of Bullock’s Orioles. Greg studied ecology in Costa Rica with the Organization for Tropical Studies and has worked internationally for the past 19 years. Greg has previously worked for the National Audubon Society, American Birding Association, Birder’s World magazine (now Birdwatching), Partners in Flight, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society (AOS). He has been a birder since he was 11 and has birded in all 50 states and 46 countries.
Other trips with Greg Butcher
Western Panama: Tranquilo Bay FULL - Take a look at our March 2024 departure!February 1 - 8, 2024, w/Canopy Lodge extension
Mexico's Butterflies & Birds FULL - Check out our Wildlife Discovery in the Sea of Cortez CruiseFebruary 17 - 24, 2024
Northwest ArgentinaMarch 4 - 17, 2024, w/Iguazu Falls extension
Texas Coast & Big ThicketApril 17 - 25, 2024
Incredible Ecuador: Chocó GaloreAugust 2 - 11, 2024
Bolivia: Birding & NatureNovember 1 - 17, 2024, w/Blue-throated Macaw Reserve extension
- Western Panama: Tranquilo Bay
Carolyn Wilcox is a naturalist and bird guide who lives year-round Port Angeles, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula. Carolyn’s work as a naturalist with NatureBridge inspired her move to Port Angeles, where she next worked for the U.S. Geological Survey as a member of the Elwha River Wildlife Research Team, gathering data on river otters, black bears, amphibians, and medium-sized carnivores (like weasels) before the Elwha River Dam Removal Project (2011-2014). A birder starting in college, she has been “obsessed with birds” ever since. As a guide, she combines her formal studies in biology with her passion for sharing the natural world with others. Carolyn learned to "bird by ear" conducting auditory transect maps of neotropical migratory songbirds for the Missouri Forest Ecosystem Project and sharpened her raptor identification skills gathering data for Hawkwatch in Utah. On the Olympic Peninsula, Carolyn has a deep interest in seabird and shorebird identification but her keen ear and interest in habitat and behavior are heavily biased towards songbirds. Two of her Pacific coast favorite passerine species are Chestnut-backed Chickadee and Pacific Wren.
Other trips with Carolyn Wilcox
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about general vaccinations recommended for travel.
- Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed. After you make travel reservations, please send a copy of your travel itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Remember to pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
We will share a copy of your health and emergency contact information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important in case of a medical emergency. In addition to bringing any prescription medications with you, we recommend that you have a copy of the prescriptions in case of loss.
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Food & Drink
We carry water and juices/cold drinks in the cooler each day, and sodas if people like them. Please also plan on bringing and filling your water bottle for hiking each day. We try to use as few plastics as possible!
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Dress is informal and is casual even at restaurants. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable. Protective clothing is essential, whether it be from from sun, rain, cold, insects, or vegetation. You need closed toe shoes, and we comfortable walking shoes with good tread. Hiking boots with good support for hiking and on rocky terrain can work well.
Many people ask how much to plan to bring as spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Most shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books. You may want to bring cash for drinks with dinner (if available) or smaller local purchases.
Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this amount can be split among them.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available in most US destinations, although there are some exceptions in remote locations. Wi-Fi is generally provided in all hotels, lodges, and restaurants you visit, at least in public areas. Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers unless it appears to be an emergency as this disrupts other guests – please plan cell phone calls on your own time.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
For this tour, your guides will drive travelers in either full-size or mini-vans or a combination of those two. We ask all attendees to please rotate your seating, so you ride with different drivers and alternate between front and back seats.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives permission to record photos and/or video of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochures, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at email@example.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
PLEASE PACK LIGHTLY!
Soft luggage is easier for us to pack in a vehicle than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one suitcase that does not exceed 50 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a daypack for field trips, so this is the ideal carry-on.
Dress is very informal. Weather can be variable and unpredictable and generally will be cool, with days in the 60’s and nights in the 40’s. Rain is always possible! We want you to be comfortable and the key to that is layering. Fabrics like fleece, as well as rain gear, will protect you from rain and wind and keep you warm. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty and that is comfortable and easy to wear. Supportive hiking books are essential for our walks.
Clothing & Gear
- Long pants, 2-3 pair, selected for warmth and comfort. Fleece tights with wind pants can be a great option for this type of weather.
- Long-sleeved shirts/turtlenecks, 1 per day or every 2 days – think layering
- T-shirts or equivalent – 2-3 for layering
- Long underwear, tops and bottoms – silk or polypro is nice
- Raincoat and pants – these double as wind break
- Medium to heavy jacket for warmth and wind protection – layer with raingear
- One lightweight and one heavy weight sweater, fleece or equivalent
- Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes, dressier clothing if desired for time in town)
- Hat with broad brim for sun on dry days
- Scarf, warm and water-repellent gloves or mittens, warm hat for cold weather
- Personal underclothing and pajamas
- Socks – medium to heavy weight and easy to wash and dry
- Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
- Lightweight hiking boots with good tread
- Rain-friendly footwear (L.L. Bean boot or equivalent with rubber bottom)
- Comfortable sandals or light shoes for evenings, travel days
- Bandana (optional)
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- E-ticket confirmation
- Personal identification
- Small daypack or fanny pack to carry gear while hiking (essential!)
- Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
- Alarm clock, or use your phone
- Toiletry articles
- Binoculars (a hotel shower cap is great to cover these when it is raining)
- Camera and extra batteries and memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual. Do a good check for all this before leaving.
- Water bottle (or plan to reuse our store-bought water bottle if prefer)
- Gallon-size ziplock bags for keeping things dry
- Laundry soap for hand washing
- Travel sewing kit
- Earplugs (if you are sensitive to noise at night – optional)
- Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
- Field guides (optional)
- Rechargeable power bank (optional)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!
Medical & First Aid Items
- Personal medication
- Copy of eyeglass prescription, medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed in vans or boat
- Personal first aid kit including medications for general and stomach ailments
- Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Foot powder, lotions for dry skin, general “comfort” items
- Insurance information
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Merlin App. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. You can download it here.
History & Culture
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Audubon Bird Guide App
Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society
“Something to Crow About” – Article, Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society
Olympic Loop - Great Washington State Birding Trail
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
Olympic National Park – National Park Service & UNESCO
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Dungeness River Audubon Center
Fort Worden Historical State Park
Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
Geology & Geography
Geology of Olympic National Park
Geology of Olympic Mountains – Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources
Geography & Climate of Olympic National Park
History & Culture
History & Exploration of Olympic National Park
Quinault Indian Nation
Elhwa Dam Removal/Elwha River Restoration
Helpful Travel Websites
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Homeland Security Real ID Act
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Date & Time
Photo credits: Banner: Scoping Tufted Puffins at Cape Flattery, courtesy Woody Wheeler; Common Murre, Peg Abbott; Rialto Beach by Woody Wheeler; Naturalist Journeys Group x2 by Woody Wheeler; Olympic Marmot by Carol Simon; Olympic Group, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Beach Rocks, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Tufted Puffin, Greg Smith; Cascade Mountains, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Steller's Jay by Peg Abbott; Whidbey Fort, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Rufous Hummingbird, Greg Smith; Sea Otter, Greg Smith; Black Turnstone, Greg Smith; Beach Rocks, NJ Stock; Townsend's Warbler, Steve Wolfe; Dungeness River Audubon Center, Woody Wheeler; Dungeness Spit NWR, Woody Wheeler; Green-winged Teal, Tom Dove; Violet-green Swallow, Steve Wolfe; Red-winged Blackbird, Greg Smith; Cape Flattery, Woody Wheeler; Chickadee, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Sea Otter, Greg Smith; Snowy Plover, Greg Smith; Black-tailed Deer, Woody Wheeler; Upper Dungeness, Woody Wheeler; Hiking, Naturalist Journeys Stock.