Grays Harbor – Wonderland


April 22, 2013

By:  Terry LaBrue, APR


When the weather changes in May and the buds burst into spring color, Grays Harbor transforms into a wonderland. It’s a wonder of bucolic scenery and a wonder why it remains undiscovered.


Many of our friends and acquaintances tell us how they vacationed on the Central Washington coast when they were kids. But now, they find other places for getaways. Why? Indeed, the country leading west of Olympia on SR 12 might have missed the consciousness of newcomers but Grays Harbor County is the number-one rural destination in the state.


It’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve been writing about Grays Harbor. First, my focus was on the fishing villages on the South Beach, home of the largest sport fishing fleet on the West coast. Not being much of an angler, however, and subject to unfortunate bouts of seasickness, I tend to keep planted on terra firma. But the South Beach area has plenty of activities in the spring including the World-Class Crab Races, the Clean Water Surf Competition and the nautical Rusty Scupper’s Pirate Daze.


Next, I began documenting the activities and events on the North Beach. I got to know Tom Hyde, who was then the publisher and editor of the North Beach Bulletin.

Together we covered the clam digs, the Museum of the North Beach and the Ocean Crest Resort, the venerable lodge and culinary standout between Moclips and Pacific Beach.


Without these opportunities, my decade-long coastal forays would have robbed my family and me of unforgettable memories. Where else would travelers experience the grandeur of the Olympic National Park, serene Lake Quinault, historic lighthouses and accessible salt- and freshwater fishing? We enjoy Grays Harbor County in all its seasons but spring bestows a special charm.


I have had many conversations over delightful lunches in Elma with the staff at Grays Harbor Tourism. The question of why people travel to Oregon beaches often arises.


People who live in Western Washington are surprised to explore a grand variety of sites and experiences they can enjoy in their own backyard – within a few hours’ drive of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett. The coastline north of Ocean Shore along SR 109 is as picturesque as more popular coastal routes in other states. And, the winding two-lane highway is devoid of much of the traffic that clogs US 101.


With warmer spring weather here and dozens of festivals and local events on the activity calendar, Grays Harbor satisfies the seasonal itch to get out and explore.

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