Where to see the gray whales — good viewing sites along North Olympic Peninsula's Pacific coast
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Russell Brooks
On the Quileute tribe Facebook page with this caption by Cynthia Centeno: "Great picture Russell Brooks! The whales have arrived in LA PUSH!! Quileute Tribe — feeling excited."

By Peninsula Daily News staff

Gray whale viewing areas
can be touch-and-go, since the weather doesn't always cooperate.

You can drive for hours to a recommended vantage point, only to be stuck with windy seas.

Additionally, the whales may decide to take the day off, choosing to rest north or south of your position.

Nevertheless, there are several spots along the coast that stand a good chance of providing some views:

• Cape Flattery
the northwestern most point of the continental United States, on the Makah reservation at Neah Bay.

Click on www.makah.com/cape.html for information on hiking the Cape Flattery Trail.

• First Beach, LaPush
a mile-long crescent-shaped section that attracts tourists with other purposes than whale watching -- it is a mecca for Twilight fans. The books and movies are largely set in Forks and LaPush.

Some of the better whale-viewing sites are behind the Lonesome Creek convenience store and from the platform at the northern end of First Beach.

The whales can be right in the surf or in the bay.

The best time to see the whales is at high tide or an hour before, and in the morning, when the sun is not in your eyes.

LaPush is about 15 miles west of U.S. Highway 101 on state Highway 110, about 70 miles from Port Angeles and about 17 miles from Forks.

• Rialto Beach
north of LaPush, is one of the most accessible beaches, with parking right next to the ocean.

• Beaches along U.S. Highway 101 between mileposts 154 and 164, between Queets and Ruby Beach.

The beaches are numbered 1-6 from south to north.

"There are a lot of other places you can go to get a good look," said Ed Bowlby, National Marine Sanctuary research coordinator, based in Port Angeles.

"But these are accessible, and you can get there without having to deal with a steep trail."

There isn't much that's needed to go whale-watching, just some binoculars for better viewing and a keen eye.

It's also a good idea to bring a camera with a telephoto lens if you want to take pictures.

The discharge from the blowhole on top of the whale's head is usually the first thing watchers spot, but it's not uncommon to see a flick of the tail or their eyes peering above the water to survey the area.

Peninsula Daily News
THE WHALE-WATCHING season is now in full swing, with great views of the gray whale migration available along our Pacific coast.

About 20,000 to 30,000 gray whales travel north in the spring and south in the fall, between Alaska's Bering Sea and Baja California.

Cape Flattery, First Beach in LaPush, Rialto Beach and beaches along U.S. Highway 101 between Queets and Ruby Beach all offer good viewing sites. (See fact box at the right)

Of course, watching gray whales can be touch-and-go, since the weather doesn't always cooperate.

You can drive for hours to a recommended vantage point, only to be stuck with windy seas. (OK, then take a hike, or check out the beach for agates!)

For tips and more information, check out our story from a few years back, “Whale-watching season blows in, and coast offers great views” — http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20100326/NEWS/303269992

Last modified: April 06. 2014 12:35AM
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