A Closer Look at Hood Canal

The Hood Canal is not a canal at all, but a fjord, and one of the only fjords in the continental United States.

No less an explorer than Captain George Vancouver miswrote "Hood’s Canal" on his charts, though he also called the 2,800-square-mile Puget Sound basin a channel in his journal. One of Washington’s favorite marine recreational areas, the canal is easily accessed from the state’s major cities via the Kitsap Peninsula and several Washington State Ferries.

Summers fill with families who cruise the 213 miles of shoreline in powerboats, kayaks, and sailboats. One great way to explore the canal is aboard the MS Lady Alderbrook, a 90-guest vessel available for evening dinner cruises or private events and weddings. Terrestrial visitors flock to the many lavender farms poised upon sloping fields above the canal and pause to dine at cafés in Eldon.

East of Olympic National Park, several towns dot the canal, including Belfair, home to more than 160 miles of maintained off-road vehicle trails in the 23,100-acre Tahuya State Forest, and the 135-acre Theler Wetlands trails, a popular bird-watching and nature area frequented by more than 150,000 visitors annually.

Whether you’re white-water kayaking the Skokomish River’s spring runoff or pausing for a break en route to Olympic National Park, Hood Canal offers itineraries aplenty.

-Crai Bower

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