Potlatch State Park is an excellent place to visit that offers plenty of shoreline fun, water activities, awesome clamming, and 96 campsites, including 36 with water and electricity. Located 40 miles northwest of Olympia, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula, Potlatch State Park is situated along the Hood Canal with 5,700 feet of saltwater shoreline within its 84 acres. The park was created starting in 1960 and has been enlarged throughout the years up to 2007 when the last parcel of shoreline was purchased by the state of Washington. The first European to sail along the Hood Canal was British explorer Captain George Vancouver who traveled the canal in 1792. The surrounding area around Potlatch was home to two lumber mills as late as the mid-20th century.
Once home to the Skokomish Indian Tribe, Potlatch State Park was named after a tribal gift giving ceremony that was named potlatch in Chinook. The ceremony took place in the winter months where gifts were offered to all tribal members and friends. Today, the Skokomish Tribe occupies a large number of acres of land located just north of the park.
Activities are plentiful at Potlatch State Park including scuba diving, fishing, kayaking, hiking, and clamming. The park has ten mooring sites for boats that allow for easy access to sail the Hood Canal. You will also find hiking, ranger-led talks, and biking along U.S. Highway 101.
The weather at Potlatch State Park boasts pleasant temperatures from May through September that range from the 60s to high 70s with less rain in the hotter summer months. Winter brings temperatures from the mid-40s to 50s with more than 12 inches of rain in most months.
RV Rentals in Potlatch State Park
Transportation in Potlatch State Park
You can access Potlatch State Park off of Stevens Road from U.S. Highway 101 that travels southeast to northwest within the Olympic Peninsula. When traveling north along U.S. Highway 101 from Olympia the drive will you take you through several small communities where traffic could be heavy. Traveling south along U.S. Highway 101 follows the shoreline and contours of the Hood Canal with several curves but no hairpins that are hard to navigate with a bigger vehicle. Once at the entrance station you will encounter traffic from the day use area parking lot which could involve vehicles towing boats or carrying watercrafts on the roof. After you enter the park, driving is pretty straight forward with one road that connects the two campground loops. The road does not involve many turns and there are no hard turns within the campgrounds to navigate. Also within the park is a road from the first campground loop that will take you to two different trails heads to hike or watch wildlife. When traveling within the campground please obey all posted speed limits and be aware of pedestrians, bicyclists and children playing within the campground.
Campgrounds and parking in Potlatch State Park
Campsites in Potlatch State Park
Potlatch State Park Campground
The Potlatch State Park campground consists of two loops connected by one road and contains 96 campsites, including 36 with electricity and water hookups. The south loop is open year round with 27 campsites including 18 campsites offering electricity and water. There are five pull-through campsites within the south loop. The north campground is further away from U.S. Highway 101 with campsites 36 thru 91 being closed from September to May of the following year.
Each campsite contains a fire ring, picnic table, and a paved parking pad that may require leveling. RVs and trailers are limited to 60 feet in length, although campsites vary and larger rigs may not find enough space at each site. There is a dump station located near the entrance and the south loop for RVs and trailers. The campground contains flush toilets, showers, and there is a softball field within the north loop. Generators may be used from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Pets are welcome but must be restrained by a six-foot leash at all times.
Seasonal activities in Potlatch State Park
Bring your water boots and shovel because you will be delighted with the clamming opportunities at Potlatch State Park. Access is easy along the 5,700 feet of shoreline along the Hood Canal with the best being near the main parking lot. You can expect an abundance of clams with manila, butter, and native littlenecks being the most predominant types. The best time for you to go clamming is during mid and low tide, so make sure you check the tide tables. The season runs from the beginning of April thru the end of August.
Windsurfing is a fantastic thing to do during your RV stay in Potlatch State Park. There is easy access to the Hood Canal for windsurfers from the day use parking lot where you will find a sandy beach area near the shoreline. You will be thrilled with consistent winds that blow through the canal allowing you the ability for acrobatic moves above the water or increased speeds while you are cruising on the canal. You should be cautious of the boat traffic in the center of the canal, so the shoreline area is best.
Pack your wet suit in the rig because scuba diving is a popular thing to do in Potlatch State Park. Access to the water is superb anywhere along the shoreline within the park. Once swimming in the water, you will experience a steep drop-off after 30 feet from the shoreline that dives down to a silty bottom 100 feet underwater. You might not find a spectacular reef but you can see incredible marine life in the Hood Canal at Arrans Bay. Abundant marine life for viewing include sea pens, star fish, nudibranchs, and moon snails, as well as hundreds of creatures that live in the sandy bottom. Dive with caution and always be on the lookout for boats.
If you are traveling with children, the interpretive programs at Potlatch State Park are superb to attend. In the evening you can gather around a fire circle and listen to interesting facts about the natural and cultural history of the area. There are also ranger-led hikes along the nature trails in the park where you can learn more about the wildlife and fauna of the area. Your little ones will like completing a few fun games to receive a Junior Ranger badge.
Hiking is not the most popular thing to do in Potlatch State Park but the trails can offer solitude from the hustle and bustle of camp life. There are two nature trails within the park that offer interpretive signage that explains the unique environment of the park and the surrounding area of the Olympic Peninsula. You can also take advantage of the 5,700 feet shoreline along Hood Canal by combing the sandy areas for shells, drift wood, and watching marine life in the canal.
Kayaking at Potlatch State Park is perfect with easy access to the Hood Canal. The park is situated along the greater Cascadian Marine Trail which includes the water ways of the Hood Canal. The day use parking area is an ideal place for you to put your kayak in the water. As you paddle the shoreline you can see the lush green landscape from a different perspective and you can expect to see some incredible wildlife too.