May 13, 2016

6 Places To Shoot In Port Angeles, Washington

Words + Photos : Isabel Thottam

There is something about Port Angeles, Washington that has swept me off my feet. I’m originally from Ohio, and the first time I visited Port Angeles and drove deep into the Olympic National Park, well, I believe I fell head over heels in love with the landscapes and the way they feel so very untouched, as if you’re finally in the place you’ve always been meant to find.

There’s just so much to explore and so much to wonder about:  the twinkling stars at night in the parking lot at Hurricane Hill, the way the trees rise up above the land and the cool breathe of fresh air that wades off the wet tree trunks of the evergreens. How the clouds disappear in the afternoon, giving you the perfect summer day when you didn’t expect it. Or maybe it’s the long, winding road along  Lake Crescent that provides an oddly relaxing sway as the perfect song matches the turning wheels on your car. And when the blood orange sun sets behind the mountains while the moon light keeps the day going late into the night, you realize that Port Angeles is the hidden gem of the Pacific Northwest.

It’s no wonder Outside Magazine recently named Port Angeles as the #2 best place to live in the United States.

If you find yourself trekking around the Olympic National Park, taking a few days to explore Port Angeles is a worthwhile adventure. Here’s a few of the most breathtaking places to shoot in Port Angeles.


#1 – Downtown Port Angeles

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Downtown Port Angeles is small, but there’s more to do than you initially might think. You’ll want to wander down E Front Street and E First Street to discover all the best boutiques, book stores and antique stores. You could spend an entire day walking through the different antique stores, admiring the relics and photographing their beauty.

The food scene is growing in Port Angeles as the city has seen more breakfast and coffee shops pop up around town – there’s even a juice bar now! First Street Haven has beautiful tall windows in the front that can make for the perfect backdrop for a portrait at brunch. Blackbird Cafe is just outside the downtown area, but it’s neatly decorate and it’s pale yellow door makes for a nice interior location to shoot at.


#2 – Port Angeles City Pier

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Downtown Port Angeles is very walkable, so once you’re done browsing the stores, head over to the Port Angeles City Pier, which isn’t too far away. If you’re there on a weekend, there’s usually a Farmer’s Market nearby and, trust me, it’s a pretty good one. Filled with local wines, beers, honey and fresh farm goods from nearby, it’s well worth a visit if you can plan your trip around the dates!

The Port Angeles City Pier is a great place to relax and watch the boats coming into the harbor. There’s a ferry that runs from Port Angeles to Victoria, Canada, another great little town to see, if you’ve got enough time in your adventure.

You’ll also find a small beach, park and lookout tower on the pier, which gives you a nice view of downtown, complete with the mountains as a backdrop.


#3 – Lake Crescent

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Lake Crescent is about a 30-40 minute drive from Port Angeles and it’s one of my favorite lakes in Washington. Nestled in the Olympic National Park, you take the 101 outside the city until, suddenly, this massive lake appears and you’re mesmerized by the colors, and the sun reflecting off its water. The road weaves a bit around the Lake, so I recommend putting on your favorite playlist to really get the full experience as you drive along the winding road. There are a few viewpoints alone the lake which are worth stopping for, especially so you can dip your toes in the water for a bit!


#4 – Elwha River Viewpoint

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One the way to Lake Crescent, there’s a few viewpoints along the way as you drive by the Elwha River. This shot was taken from the turn off just before the road turns to cross a bridge over the river. If you park your car, you can actually climb down a bit and get closer to the river.


#5 – Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

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The drive up to Hurricane Ridge is incredible, and you’ll be tempted one or few times to pull over to snap some photos. I suggest waiting until you get to the top, where the view is even more spectacular. It’s a 17-mile road before you reach the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, which has a nice patio you can walk to for a great view of the mountains and valley. The Ridge has a few short hikes around it, so it makes for a good stopping point if you don’t want to do the longer trails or just want a great spot to drive to and watch the sunset.


#6 – Heart Of The Hills Trail

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Just past the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is a 3-mile round trip hike to the Heart of the Hills. Despite being a quick and not too difficult hike, it’s one of the best pacific northwest experiences. Right before you reach the top it can be a bit strenuous, simply because you’re gaining elevation quickly and if it’s a hot day, you’ll feel it. But, there’s no greater moment than reaching the actual heart of the hills and getting a 360-view of the mountains. I highly recommend it for sunset, it’s a site you have to see at least once in your life (I’ve seen it over 10 times and it never fails to impress me).

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