Grays Harbor Tourism

Contact Grays Harbor Tourism: (800) 621-9625

Take Your Dog on 5 Hikes in Grays Harbor

July 21st, 2014 by kelly

Those of us who are dog owners know there are numerous areas around Grays Harbor that allow dogs on trails. We also know that finding the right trail or beach for both you and your dog can be a challenge. What may be an enjoyable day of hiking for you could be extremely uninteresting to your dog and vice versa.  If you are like me, you have your favorite area for your four-legged friend that you return to ad nauseam. Why are we settling for repetition when we have some of the best hiking in the country right in our own backyard?

Looking over the trails in Grays Harbor, it is actually difficult to find many that do not allow dogs. Most of the amazing hikes in Grays Harbor are on National Forest Service land, which are always dog-friendly. While the National Forest Service does have a strict leash law, their trails more than make up to your dog by offering them incredible smells and soft trails.

Read more here:

50 Things To Do in Grays Harbor

July 21st, 2014 by kelly

Call it a bucket list.  Here is a list of 50 things to do around Grays Harbor, keeping us busy and exploring year round.

  1. Visit the Satsop Bulb Farm and get a bouquet of daffodils
  2. Hike Lake Sylvia
  3. Sample wine at the Westport Winery
  4. Dig clams at Washington Beaches
  5. Hunt mushrooms in the forest
  6. See a performance at the Bishop Center and cheer on local talent
  7. Explore the Interpretive Center in Ocean Shores
  8. Visit the Lake Quinault Lodge and forest
  9. Find antique or thrift shop treasures in Aberdeen
  10. Run the Dirty Dash 5k
  11. Explore a historic railroad bed at Preachers Slough Trail
  12. Visit the Grays Harbor Farmer’s Market in Hoquiam
  13. Tour the “Lady Washington
  14. See a concert at the D&R Theatre
  15. Attend the Grays Harbor County Fair
  16. Enjoy a picnic out at Wynoochee Falls
  17. Day camp on the beach in Moclips
  18. Spot some eagles on the beach
  19. Visit Westport Marina – climb the viewing tower and walk the boardwalk
  20. Take a tour of the Running Anvil Carriage House in Montesano
  21. Attend the Parade of Lights in Montesano
  22. Float down a river of your choice
  23. Have a day outing at every State Park in Grays Harbor
  24. Attend a high-school drama performance
  25. Run a 5k + polar bear plunge at Lake Sylvia
  26. Spend 4th of July at the Splash Festival in Aberdeen
  27. Go for a drive out the East Satsop on a Summer evening
  28. Attend the Loggers Playday in Hoquiam
  29. Tour the County Courthouse in Montesano
  30. Eat salt-water-taffy in Ocean Shores
  31. Enjoy camping at the Wynoochee Dam
  32. Canoe around Lake Aberdeen
  33. Eat ice cream at Scoops in Aberdeen
  34. Visit all the public playgrounds in Grays Harbor County
  35. Visit the boardwalk near the airport in Hoquiam
  36. Take ballroom dance lessons at the YMCA
  37. Have coffee and listen to local musicians at the Tinderbox in Westport
  38. Walk the waterfront in Aberdeen
  39. Check out the Chehalis Valley Historical Museum in Montesano
  40. Visit Shaffner Farms and get a pumpkin
  41. Collect shells and browse the shops in Seabrook
  42. Watch your local high school team win a football game
  43. Enjoy horseback riding on the beach in Ocean Shores
  44. Hang around at All Wrapped Up in Montesano for coffee and conversation
  45. Hunt for a tree on a Christmas Tree Farm
  46. Attend a Driftwood Theatre performance
  47. Get lost in a corn-maze at Chapman Farms
  48. Play community league volleyball
  49. Skate around the Harborena in Hoquiam
  50. Stay up late and watch a meteor shower from your backyard or campsite

Day Trip to the Beach – Decide between Ocean Shores or Westport

July 21st, 2014 by kelly

Visitors to Washington’s capital, Olympia, are fortunate to be able to day-trip to the Pacific Ocean and the beaches of Grays Harbor County. Along the way, there are many sights and attractions to enjoy in pursuit of those fresh ocean breezes.

Read more here…

Step Inside the Lake Quinault Lodge

July 21st, 2014 by kelly

Surrounded by giant Sitka spruce trees, Douglas fir and Western Red Cedar trees, situated next to one of the more pristine lakes and rivers in North America, the Lake Quinault Lodge sits quietly on the shores of Lake Quinault.

lake quinault lodge

The Lake Quinault Lodge was originally built in 1926, following a similar style to Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park.

Guests enjoy the breathtaking views of one of the wettest areas in the contiguous United States. In 1926, this classic rustic lodge was built in the same style as the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park and the Sun Valley Resort in Idaho, making it perfectly suited for the heavily forested locale. Set in one of three temperate rainforests in the world, the Lake Quinault Lodge has been the destination of tourists and presidents alike.

Read more at….

The Antique Farm-Engine and Tractor Association: History with a Roar

July 7th, 2014 by kelly

Imagine a day when nothing was as easy as flipping a switch. Engines were bigger, louder, heavier, and so much more difficult to transport.  A 35 horse-power Foos, weighing in at 10,000 pounds would have been used for pumping oil and water or to generate electricity. This enormous stationary engine is one of Tim Stangeland’s favorite pieces of antique equipment to show off. As loud as it is large, the mechanically inclined of any age are sure to be drawn to the noise this giant makes as soon as they hear it.

Tim Stangeland, once a teacher, poses in front of a machine he and his former students built.

The Antique Farm-Engine and Tractor Association (AFETA) boasts many members. A few of the local ones are Tim Stangeland, Jim Borden, and Colin Mcafee. Each one has an affinity for the mechanical and a passion for history.

Read more at:

Five Ideal Camping Locations in Grays Harbor

July 7th, 2014 by kelly

Numerous camping experiences exist in Grays Harbor, but it can be overwhelming to find the perfect site for your camping adventure. Grays Harbor is full of some of the more beautiful locations in the state and the campsites around the region highlight that beauty.



3 Lake Sylvia Hikes You Might Not Know About

July 2nd, 2014 by kelly

Most Grays Harbor locals are familiar with Lake Sylvia and the almost two-mile loop surrounding the creek and lake. Most are not familiar with the network of paths that add anywhere from 1.5 – 9 miles to your usual trek. Many of the trails are created and maintained by mountain bike enthusiasts, creating a web of routes intersecting with various logging roads.

lake sylvia

Cougar Rocks is a part of the Upper Sylvia Creek Loop just prior to reaching the Satsop Crest.

Lake Sylvia is an incredible resource for amateur or advanced hikers, exporting you from relative safety to remote areas lacking cell service. Used by runners to train for races and marathons, there are many challenging routes available for those seeking to push themselves harder.

Montesano local, Tiffany Schweppe, who ran the 2014 Boston Marathon suggests hikers to get a map. “The trails are kind of confusing. The mountain bikers build trails and you have to explore to know how they all connect,” adds Schweppe.  “I really like the West Fork trail because you’re less likely to get lost. Study the map ahead of time and decide where you’re going.”

For newbies wanting to explore the following trails, here are a few ways to avoid getting injured, lost, or stranded:

  • There have been cougar sightings over the last few years. Though it is not likely that the cougar will want anything to do with you, be aware of your surroundings and never hike alone. If you are travelling with a dog or small children, keep them close by.
  • In case of an emergency, knowing your location becomes critically important. Keep a map handy and pay attention to the names of any logging roads you cross.
  • Let someone back at home know your itinerary as you branch out onto the trails that are less frequented.
  • Drinking out of creeks and streams can bring disease – bring plenty of your own water.
  • Cell service is sketchy at best so pack wisely. Bring a first aid kit and flashlight.

The trails behind Lake Sylvia are a wealth of history, nature, and wildlife. Be kind to the paths, explore, be safe, and have fun!

The Brownie Trail

lake sylvia trails

Tiffany Schweppe poses with local runners on one of Lake Sylvia’s many trails. ?

This trail is one mile long, connecting to the Ridge Trail and looping around to the Lake Trail for a total of more than two miles. It is named after the Brownie Girl Scout Group that planted some of the fir trees surrounding the trail. There are signs made in the 1970s and other indications of history you will walk past. This trek is especially beautiful because of the carpet of clover running on either side of the path. This is a favorite for some of the mountain bikers and Schweppe says is particularly fun to run.

Upper Sylvia Creek Loop

This trail connects many smaller trails for a total of between ten and eleven miles. Not for the faint of heart or those just starting out, this trail is an excellent goal to work up to and is sometimes used to train half-marathoners. It will take you up to the Brady/West Satsop area and will give you some fantastic views – especially at the point of the Satsop Crest. Franzine Potts, local marathoner and Human Resources Director at the YMCA of Grays Harbor, relates, “When you get to the top of the Satsop Trail, it feels like you can reach out and touch the Satsop Power Plants. It’s quite a climb but well worth it for the beautiful view.”

Nevills Hill Trail

lake sylvia

Lake Sylvia is home to many activities including the local New Years Run and Polar Bear Plunge. Local runners Franzine Potts and Jennifer Hartley are brave enough to take the dive!

Branching off of the commonly hiked Forestry Trail, this path will take you up to a clear cut near a cell tower and give you a fantastic view of Montesano. With lots of hills, it’s bound to also give you a good workout. The trail winds past old railroad beds as you leave the Forestry Trail and is cool and refreshing as you walk along the creek. My dog loves this loop and the variation we took gave us about a four-mile trek.

Lake Sylvia boasts a variety of activities – from a boat launch, to swimming zones, playground, and campsites, there is enough to keep you busy and exhausted for days. You can find maps to print off of the upper and lower Lake Sylvia Trails here:

  1. Lower Lake Sylvia Trails
  2. Upper Lake Sylvia Trails

Happy hiking!

Farm Fresh in Grays Harbor

May 20th, 2014 by kelly

In a world where most commodities travel the span of the globe before making it the locations where they’re intended to be sold, more and more people are becoming aware about where the things they buy are coming from and making the deliberate choice to shop – and eat – locally. With a lush and vibrant locale rich in nutrients and full of life, Grays Harbor residents are spoiled when it comes to eating locally raised and grown foods.

With more than 400 farms located in Grays Harbor county, there is always something fresh growing in the soil (or water). There are currently 29 farms in Grays Harbor that sell directly to the public, providing Grays Harbor residents and visitors with plenty of options for enjoying the freshest foods, plants and more, straight from the source. For local, farm fresh oysters, Brady’s Oysters in Aberdeen, Wash., is a favorite. Serving shucked (in shell) and smoked oysters, live and cooked crab, fresh fish, shrimp, prawns and more, Brady’s is a go-to for oyster and seafood lovers of all types. Opened by Brady Engvall, the founder of suspended culture (an oyster harvesting method that keeps the oysters out of the mud), Brady’s Oysters now spans four generations of experience. You can stop by Brady’s (open seven days a week), or call in your order and Brady’s will deliver straight to your door.

Hop over to nearby Hoquiam, Wash., and you can stop by another farm fresh favorite for Grays Harbor oysters at Lytle Seafoods Oyster Shack. Founded in 1983 by a commercial fisherman and his wife, Lytle Seafoods has grown from its humble beginnings into a 5,000-square-foot retail and oyster shucking facility with customers reaching as far as the East Coast, Hawaii and beyond. Lytle Seafoods Oyster Shack is open daily.

If you’re not a seafood fan, there are several farms across Grays Harbor raising beef, poultry and other land-based meats. Wynoochee Valley Meats, located in Montesano, Wash., is a favorite for grass fed beef and natural grain fed pork, and for processing livestock and wild game. Wynoochee Valley Meats even offers on-site slaughtering so you can enjoy the freshest meats straight from your own farm. For poultry, G & H Pastured Poultry provides Grays Harbor with all natural, humanely raised poultry. Raising, slaughtering and processing the poultry all on-site at their McCleary, Wash., farm, G & H Pastured Poultry is committed to raising the healthiest, best tasting chicken around. Chickens can be purchased fresh or frozen directly from the farm. If you’re looking for something a little bit different, head to Oak Meadows Buffalo Ranch where owners Ed and Jill Lagergren strive to provide their community with lean and healthy meat options. Steaks, roast, jerky and buffalo burgers are all in abundance at Oak Meadows Buffalo Ranch and make a great, heart-healthy alternative to beef.

To complement and balance your meaty spread, you’ll need some vegetables. Farm fresh options for produce in Grays Harbor are limitless. With so many farms offering fresh, seasonal and locally grown fruits and vegetables, there’s always something delicious, and healthy, to nibble on. Located in Montesano, Wash., locals love Shaffner Farms for their traditional selection of produce, but also for their handmade jams, dressings and more. And, because they double as a pumpkin patch and corn maze, Shaffner’s make a great family destination during the autumn months. For people living in and around Copalis, Wash., Voss Acres is a year-round favorite for what veggies and fruits are in season. Using organic gardening practices to grow all of their produce, Voss Acres prides itself in producing outstanding produce. Raised garden beds are growing vegetables for the new u-pick aspect of Juel’s Unique Nursery.

Although, if you’d rather take the prep work out of your dinner, Westport Winery will gladly prepare a “farm-to-fork” meal for you at their beautiful Aberdeen, Wash., location. Their menu boasts everything from mouthwatering appetizers like Dungeness crab cakes and stuffed mushrooms, to succulent entrées like their Chicken Cordon Gold, Savory cheese ravioli, prime rib and much more. Everything on their menu is fresh, healthy and homemade, and they even have a selection of desserts made at their on-site bakery.

Want to grow farm fresh foods and flowers in your own backyard? Grays Harbor farmers have you covered there, too. Specializing in unusual shrubs, perennials and annuals, Juel’s Unique Nursery, located in Elma, Wash., helps you customize your garden with the unique and unusual. Open February through October, you can visit Juel’s website to see what’s in stock, or click here to learn more. There are also several nurseries specializing in lavender, dahlias, lilies and more located throughout the region. Grays Harbor is brimming with farm fresh options for your garden, table and tummy. For a full list of all of Grays Harbor’s farms that sell to the public, check out Visit Grays Harbor’s website – and click on the Farm Fresh Map link.

Day Trip to the Beach – It’s Not the Destination, but the Journey

May 16th, 2014 by kelly

Thurston County is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. The majesty of Mount Rainier rules over the landscape, a reminder of the many season-round recreational opportunities available in the mountains.

Yet, a grander, natural wonder lies over the western horizon—the Pacific Ocean.  About a ninety minute drive from Olympia, the coast of Grays Harbor County offers many fun and relaxing destination venues for all ages and interests. Directly west of Olympia, the sands of the Pacific beaches are dotted with eight state parks.  Grays Harbor is also home to a National Wildlife Reserve.

Because of the tempering nature of the Pacific Ocean, the beaches are open year-round. In the late fall, when the I-5 corridor undergoes temperature inversions accompanied by low, overcast skies, the coast is clear and sunny. During the inland’s summer hot spells, the sea moderates the coast’s temperatures. Winters can be milder than inland. Storms at this time of year often produce impressive surf shows. Wind-whipped waves and churning surf attract storm-watching visitors and storm chasers, anxious to witness the spectacular symphony of crashing water and gusting winds.

Whatever the time of year, the Pacific Ocean beaches are open for exploring, walking, and listening to the surf. The wide-open sands are perfect for romping or flying kites. Depending on the season, you can go clam digging or crabbing.

Getting There

Summit Lake Antiques is the first stop on the road trip.

Washington State Highway 8 (WA 8) is the most direct route from Olympia to Grays Harbor County’s ocean beaches.  Its four lanes gently travel through rolling hills and forests. Branching off US 101 northwest of Olympia, WA 8’s sole purpose is to link West Olympia with US Highway 12 at Elma. US Highway 12 terminates at Aberdeen, gateway to Grays Harbor and the ocean beaches.

Several interesting sights and adventures are available along the 21 miles of this road.  Next time you venture to the ocean beaches, stop and explore what the communities along WA 8 have to offer. Although many of the services and shops are open year-round, check the dates and hours for specific seasonal destinations.

Summit Lake

Heading west from Olympia, about eight miles from the junction of US 101 and WA 8, you see a “Tourist Attraction” road sign announcing Summit Lake Antiques.  Take the next right, which is Summit Lake Road NW. Summit Lake Antiques is about three-quarters of a mile down this road at 10724 Summit Lake Road NW.  Owners Bob and Barbara Jasper have been in the antique and refinishing business for over 30 years at this location. Since the Jaspers live here, the three buildings housing over 10,000 sq. ft. of antiques are open generally from 9:00 a.m. on weekdays and 10:00 a.m. on the weekend.  It’s well worth the stop to view their collection as well as consult with Barbara about restoring a family heirloom.

The road to the Ocean Beaches has many possibilities.

After visiting the antique store, you can double back to WA 8 or continue along Summit Lake Road NW, which eventually loops back to WA 8. If you like lakes, drive another mile, and then turn right (east) and continue another half-mile on Summit Lake Short Road to Summit Lake. This is a Washington State Water Access site open to the public from the last weekend in April to October 31.

Just before Summit Lake Road NW joins WA 8, Kennedy Creek Pottery, 12320 Summit Lake Rd NW, offers the work of ceramic artists Dave Siemens and Maggie Roberts. View their hand-made ceramics that range from table ware and sculptures to garden art. Check their website for their open house events, as well as classes that focus on specific ceramic projects.


West of the Summit Lake area is the town of McCleary, a few blocks north of the junction of WA 8 and WA 108.

If your passengers need a recreational break, visit the seven-acre Beerbower Park, located mid-way through the town on WA 108.  This city park provides a children’s playground, picnic tables and restrooms. Featured is an antique locomotive purchased in 1905 by the town’s namesake, Henry McCleary, and donated in 1962 to the town by Simpson Timber Company.

Two miles east of Elma is a pleasant rest stop.

McCleary is the home of the annual Bear Festival. Since 1959, the community has hosted this annual event held the second weekend in July.  Famous for its bear stew and softball tournament, the Bear Festival features many activates for all ages.  There are food and craft vendors, parades, live music, and a car show. Events are scheduled so that you can attend one or stay for the entire weekend.

During the summer, the McCleary Museum at Carnell House is open on the weekends between noon and 4:00 p.m. Located at 314 South 2nd Street, the museum is a wealth of information about the area’s history.

If you are headed to the coast on the third Saturday in September, check out McCleary’s city-wide garage sale. From WA 8 westbound, you can loop through the town by turning right on Mox-Chehalis Road. Head west on W Simpson Avenue, which is WA 108, then follow the road signs pointing to Elma.


The Elma Variety Store may be one of the last of its kind.

Located at the western end of WA 8, Elma is about halfway to the coast.  Before you continue west along US 12, stop by the Elma Variety Store, 325 W Main. This store is one of the few remaining, independently operated, five and dime stores.

The five and dime stores were popular in the early to mid-20th century. This type of store provided a wide variety of goods sold at affordable prices—five to ten cents in the early days. Even though the five and dime prices have long since vanished, the Elma Variety Store retains its mid-20th century flavor, with a selection of products ranging from household supplies, hardware items and dry goods.

Additionally, this store has one of the largest selections of craft supplies in Southwest Washington. The Quilt Peddler section of Elma Variety, a familiar stop for Southwest Washington Shop Hop participants, boasts over 6500 bolts of fabric. Some of these fabrics find their way into finished creations displayed at the annual Around the Block Quilt Show, a non-judged show at the local county fairgrounds.  In addition to hand-made quilts and fiber art, this show features vendors and prize drawings.

Elma is home to the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds, located on the east side of Elma at 32 Elma-McCleary Road.  Besides holding the annual Grays Harbor County Fair in August, this facility hosts many other events. One weekend per month, from October through May, there is an indoor swap meet.  Check out the Fair’s calendar of events—perhaps your trip to the coast may coincide with their annual car show or the November Country Christmas Bazaar, a tradition since the 1970’s. For animal lovers, there are several horse, livestock, and dog shows throughout the year.

Antique tractons are a site to see in Elma.

The Antique Tractor Pull & Engine Show, the fairground’s main event in July, may have provided inspiration for the Rusty Tractor Restaurant located at the corner of Main and Young (602 E Young St). The eclectic inside décor of this family-style restaurant complements the outside display of rusty tractors and farm implements.   If traveling in a motor home or with a trailer, there is plenty of parking for big rigs.

For a quick coffee or snack, the Coffee Coop adjacent to the Rusty Tractor serves coffee as you like it plus goodies.  You can drive up on either side of the Coop. If you want to take a break from your car, there is a table inside where you can enjoy your beverage with the faux chickens.

This is only a sampling of the places to stop and visit along WA 8. On your next trip to the ocean beaches, whether it is for a day or longer, take the time to discover what these communities have to offer.

History on Wheels at the Running Anvil Carriage Museum in Montesano

May 15th, 2014 by kelly

Well over a century ago, a newspaper foreman named J. E. Calder travelled from Tacoma to the budding town of Montesano. With only 75 cents in his pocket, Calder refused to spend a third of his money on a 25-cent shave at the local barber shop. As a result, he vowed never to shave again and was, for the rest of his life, trademarked by his long beard. By the 1930s, Calder had achieved the founding of the Vidette newspaper office and become the mayor of Montesano.

Doug and Janet Rice share a lifetime of passion for horses, carriages, and history.

Calder’s life was marked by the developing newspaper and by the welcoming of President Franklin Roosevelt in front of the Montesano Post Office. After Calder’s eventful life, it is no surprise that the Vidette newspaper continues on today. But less expected is to know that Calder’s “trap” – a small, open carriage – is preserved for viewing at the Running Anvil Carriage Museum.

The Calder trap is a glimpse into the life of a very influential man who helped shape the town of Montesano. It helps you visualize what life must have been like for him during a period of quickly changing history. But the Calder trap is only one of many peeks into yesteryear within the Running Anvil Museum.

The Running Anvil has an astonishing variety of carriages, traps, historical matchbooks and paraphernalia. Most of the carriages come from Grays Harbor County such as the “Donovan Carriage” from the owner of Donovan Logging in Aberdeen, farm wagons from more remote parts of the Harbor, and enclosed carriages from doctors and vetrinarians. Each piece has a story and sometimes accompanying accessories. Resting on a wagon seat lies a gift from the renowned Indian Chief, “Sitting Bull” – a Buffalo robe seven feet square. A weathered note and photo document the robe and add yet another dimension to the history of former Grays Harbor residents.

Janet and Doug Rice, owners of the Running Anvil, have been horse people since their youths. Competing in dressage, cross country, and racing, they have also bred horses and travelled across the states. Horses are their passion and now in retirement, they’ve channelled that passion into the refurbishing of historical carriages. Some pieces they’ve discovered have needed only a little time and effort, others, they’ve received in pieces.

The Running Anvil Museum features different carriages and local history.

The Brittain Farm Wagon, for example, came out of Humptulips as a pile of old wood, metal, and a couple of wheels. Using a photo from 1970 when the wagon was in better shape, Rice was able to recreate the piece using the original metal and new lumber. Two of the wheels were also salvageable. Some of their carriages are on loan from friends, and some of them are garnished with beautiful paintings from local artists, giving new interest to an already beautiful piece.

The Rice’s began collecting carriages by fluke. Some they’ve hunted down, some have been given to them, and some have been purchased. Now after decades of collecting, the Rice’s are running out of space. One carriage house was expanded, a chicken coop was converted, and two outer buildings with plexi-glass house the carriages they couldn’t fit in the main building.

If you were to truly admire each piece and hear about the lives behind them, the tour would easily take two hours or more of your time. And the Rice’s are happy to take that space out of their day to educate people about the history and beauty of Grays Harbor County. To top off the experience, the Rice’s don’t charge a dime. By inkling or by appointment, the Rice’s cheerfully guide visitors through their outbuildings and delightfully narrate as you go along.

The Running Anvil Museum has hundreds of matchbooks on display.

Exciting as the history is, there is something especially charming about the fact that many of the carriages under the Rice’s care have received a second life. Some have been used in local weddings, carting the bride and groom away behind the smooth trot of the Rice’s trained carriage horse. Others have been photographed for magazines or used in parades.

The Rice’s possess a pride and willingness to share the local history they’ve collected. Refusing to keep the antique treasures to themselves, the couple has done a beautiful job of preserving history for many generations to come. As with the story of Calder, the Rice’s provide a tangible way of relating to the lives of those gone before.

The Running Anvil Museum can be found at 445 Black Creek Road in Montesano and is open seven days a week. You can call for more information at (360) 249-3645.

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