Best time to travel to Olympic National Park, WA

Whale Watching near Olympic National Park

Few experiences compare to catching a glimpse of some of the largest mammals on earth


Last updated: by Elliot Phillips
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To be near an animal that can grow to 30 or 40 tons brings a rare perspective on life and is truly unforgettable. Few places in the US are more conducive to whale watching than the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This area offers unbeatable land-viewing and boating opportunities to get close to these marine giants.

Gray (Eschrichtius robustus), humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) and orca (Orcinus orca) whales use the waters off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula as part of their migration route, as they switch from rich northern waters used for feeding to their warmer, shallower calving grounds. Find these massive creatures on their biannual journey past the Pacific Northwest either between April and May or October and November.

May is a designated whale watching month at Kalaloch Lodge, which is part of the Whale Trail, a collection of over 100 viewing locations that extends from British Columbia south to California. For the best land viewing opportunities, explore the shores of Second Beach, Rialto, Shi Shi, or Neah Bay, but be sure to plan before you go, as some places are currently closed to visitors. Find whale tours by boat in Port Townsend, Port Angeles, or Seattle (check the "External resources" section below). For those without their sea legs, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center offers educational events and exhibits for land lovers.