One of the best campgrounds on the Olympic Peninsula is missed by many people. It is a bit off the beaten path and reached by driving through the quiet countryside.
Salt Creek Recreation Campground is on the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and is one of the nicest public parks we have stayed in. This is a 196-acre park and includes upland forests, rocky bluffs, rocky tide pools, sand beach, Salt Creek access, campsites, and panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Crescent Bay, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
The park is located on the grounds of a World War II harbor defense military base, Camp Hayden. The area was purchased from the Federal General Services Administration after being surplussed at the end of World War II. Visitors can view the remnants of World War II Camp Hayden in the two concrete bunkers that housed 16″ cannons and several smaller bunkers.
According to Wikipedia Camp Hayden (1941-1948) was a World War II Coastal Artillery Camp established in 1941 as Striped Peak Military Reservation at Tongue Point, Clallam County, Washington. Named Fort Hayden in G.O. 31, 17 Apr 1944, after Brigadier General John L. Hayden, former commanding officer of the Puget Sound harbor defenses. Renamed Camp Hayden in G.O. 56, 22 Oct 1942. The post was abandoned by the U.S. Army in 1948.
Camp Hayden was part of the Harbor Defense of Puget Sound. In 1941, temporary batteries were installed near Port Angeles and Angeles Point to protect the entrance to Puget Sound, the Victoria BC harbor, and the Canadian naval base at Esquimalt. These batteries supplemented the fixed batteries at Fort Casey, Fort Flagler, and Fort Worden. The temporary installations were replaced by the Camp Hayden military reservation and its two fixed gun batteries.
About the Park
There are play equipment, basketball court, horseshoe courts, softball field, and volleyball court. Tide-pooling at the Tongue Point Marine Sanctuary is a must while you are here, as is watching shipping lanes, and exploring the remnants of WWII-era Camp Hayden. Mountain bikers and hikers can access the State’s Striped Peak Recreation Area, from this western trailhead.
Salt Creek is a great birding site, because it is on the Whale Trail and the National Audubon’s Olympic Loop of the Greater Washington State Birding Trail.
There are multiple trails to hike including a hearty climb to a 1,166-foot summit of Striped Peak. The trail begins just past the park’s entrance booth. It starts out among fir and maple, then travels along a gravel path into the forest.
The campground is open year round. There are 92 campsites, including two camp host sites. Most of the 92 campsites have a view of the water. There are two distinct areas. Campsites # 1 – 49 are in an open area, with outstanding views of the Strait. Sites # 1 through 39 have water and electrical hook-ups (30 and 50 amp) available. Sites # 50 through 92 are located in a forested area. Campsites # 40 through 49 are designated for tents only. Some of the sites are closed in the winter.
There are two restrooms with coin-operated showers. There is no charge for paying campers to use the dump station, but non-campers are assessed a fee. Firewood bundles are available for purchase and water faucets are available throughout the park.
The sites are relatively close together so it can feel crowded at the busy time of year. We were there in August, and most of the sites from 1 to 49 were filled by afternoon. There were many empty sites in the forested area. You can make reservations for one-half of the campsites. The remaining sites are available on a first come, first served basis.
Tide-pooling at the Tongue Point Marine Sanctuary is fun for all ages. You can spend all day just discovering the multitude of sea creatures that live in this area. Be sure to check the tide schedule so that you can explore during the lowest tide.
Interesting facts about the sea creatures found in the tidepools.
- California Mussel grow to full size in 3 years. To collect enough food to survive a mussel filters 2 liters of water an hour.
- Chitons, are considered to be the most primitive of all existing mollusks. They are nocturnal and will stay in a very small area all of their lives, if there is adequate food supply. They ear algae.
- Hermit crabs have 5 pairs of legs. One claw is large and is used for defense and food. the smaller claw is used for eating. the second and third pairs are used for walking and the last pair to hold the crab in its shell.
- Blood stars live up to 35 years.
- Sea otters that regularly eat sea urchins have purple bones and teeth.
giant green anemones are actually animals with algae plants living inside in a symbiotic relationship.
How to get there
Salt Creek Recreation Campground is located at 3506 Camp Hayden Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98363. Take Scenic Highway 112 towards Joyce, turn right on Camp Hayden Road.