The Port of Kingston, known as the Little City by the Sea, is the gateway to the northern Kitsap Peninsula and to Olympic National Park and Forest. Just a 30-minute ferry ride from the Port of Edmonds for cars and pedestrians, the Port of Kingston is a quiet town on Puget Sound where visitors find endless opportunities for recreational boating, fishing, and the breath-taking scenery of the northwest.
The Port of Kingston has a cool-summer Mediterranean climate with warm dry summers and chilly rainy winters. Temperatures in the Port of Kingston range from an average high of 24°C (76°F) in July and August to an average low of 2°C (36°F) in December. Precipitation in the Port of Kingston falls to a low of two centimeters (0.8 inches) in July and peaks in November at 14.8 centimeters (5.8 inches). Snow comes to the Port of Kingston from mid-October through mid-April, peaking in January at about 16.5 centimeters (6.5 inches). Humidity levels in the Port of Kingston are fairly stable just above 90% and peaking in October at about 95%.
The Port of Kingston's Mike Wallace Park is just south of the Ferry Terminal near downtown. Covering an acre, the park is a focal point for community events, including the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, Fourth of July fireworks, and summer concerts. Mike Wallace Park in the Port of Kingston has picnic tables and barbecues. From early May through mid-October, the Saturday Farmers' Market offers local produce, baked goods, and locally-made arts and crafts. On Saturday nights in July and August, the Port of Kingston co-sponsors "Concerts on the Cove" in the park from 6pm to 9pm where musicians from across the State offer free family-oriented performances. The concerts are accompanied by a beer garden and many food vendors. Other community events held in the Port of Kingston's Mike Wallace Park include Kites Over Kingston, the Paws Fest, the North Kitsap Arts and Crafts Festival, and Paddle Kitsap.
About 58 kilometers (36 miles) west of the Port of Kingston is the Olympic National Park & Forest, a 3.6-thousand-square-kilometer (1400-square-mile) wonderland with four different ecosystems that include Pacific Ocean coastlines, the breathtaking glacier-topped Olympic mountains, temperate rain forest, and drier forest to the east. Olympic National Park contains some of the biggest of the country's remaining ancient forests. Nestled within the natural magnificence of the Park are cultural and historic sites attesting to its human history. Over 650 archaeological sites attest to ten thousand years of human occupation.
Created by Theodore Roosevelt in 1909 as Mount Olympus National Monument, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the legislation making it a national park in 1938. UNESCO made it an International Biosphere Reserve in 1976 and a World Heritage Site in 1981. In 1988, the US Congress designed almost all of the park the Olympic Wilderness. The park is open all year 24 hours a day, even though some of the roads and facilities may be closed in the winter or during extreme weather events. Visitors to the Olympic National Park & Forest will enjoy a wide range of activities.
The Quinault Rainforest is one of the three surviving temperate rainforests in the Western hemisphere, and it is home to the world's largest Sitka Spruce. Three-hour Rainforest Tours are available throughout the year. Within the rainforest, the Quinault Indian Nation owns Lake Quinault where visitors find great fishing, biking, and hiking.
The Sol Duc Hot Springs feature three mineral hot spring soaking pools and a freshwater pool offering a comfortable temperature for every taste. Staying at the Sol Duc cabin is the best way to enjoy the hot springs as well as the massage therapists, restaurant, and café. Sol Duc cabin is a great base for exploring the valley and the popular Sol Duc Falls.
The Park contains a wide range of day-hike and backpacking opportunities. There are many trails of varying difficulty and length for walks and day-hikes. Trails explore the temperate rain forest, Hurricane Ridge, Deer Park, the lowlands forests, and the Pacific Coast. As many as 40 thousand backpackers visit the Olympic Wilderness each year, and Wilderness Camping Permits are available at four wilderness stations around the park.
The National Park Service operates 16 campgrounds with 910 sites around the Park, and there are cabins and RV parks at some of the most popular spots that are operated by concession-holders. Campsites are generally available on a first-come first-served basis. They have picnic tables and fire its, but there are no hook-ups or showers at the campgrounds. There are group campgrounds at Sol Duc and Kalaloch.
Fishing opportunities abound at the Park, with great catches of salmon and steelhead. Guided fishing excursions with tribal and non-tribal guides. Because the park contains both Tribal and US Forest Service lands, licenses and regulations apply, so fishers should check out those requirements.
There are too many places to see and things to do in the Olympic National Park and Forest than can be described here. Travelers should check out the websites for the National Park Service, the National Forest Service, and the concessioners operating in the park.