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Twilight Setting - A Must-See Travel Destination

By: Erica I. Peña-Vest and Stephanie Olsen

All you have to do is ask a tween, teen or me what made this weekend special and their response will be all about the release of New Moon, the movie based on the second book in the four book series called the Twilight Saga by author Stephanie Meyer.  You would have to be living under a rock to not have noticed all the hoopla surrounding this much anticipated movie.  With everything from Halloween costumes to Sweatheart Candies releasing Twilight themed products, everything even remotely related to the movies or books has struck gold.  Even a little town on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state has been placed on the map by this cultural phenomenon. 

Movies and book have historically made some towns more popular, but I don't think anyone was prepared for how the tiny town of Forks, Washington would become a must see for Twi-hards, as they call themselves.  Touism has increased in the small town by 1000%.  Although the movies were not actually filmed in Forks, fans from all over the world want to see the mystic and beautifully described scenery in Stephanie Meyer's books.  Now, if you have no idea what any of this Twilight nonsense is about and you don't know what I mean when I ask you if you are on Team Jacob or Team Edward, then remember this – Forks, Washington is considered the gateway to Olympic National Park. This one million acre park has great natural diversity and something for the whole family to enjoy.  Blessed with plentiful secluded backcountry for hard-core outdoor enthusiasts, the park also features easy access areas that are ideal for weekend trippers wishing for a new adventure. The park offers a variety of natural features, from pristine haystack beaches to lofty mountain peaks and even the rare rainforest. The proximity to Seattle/Tacoma makes it easy to visit, but remote enough you leave feeling you've experienced a unique corner of the world.

During our visit , we took a leisurely day of scenic driving up the east side of the peninsula, along the Hood Canal, stopping for a dockside picnic and then later exploring the Mt. Walker viewpoint before staying overnight in Port Angeles.  Early the next morning, we drove the steep, scenic road 45 minutes up to the Hurricane Ridge visitor's center from Port Angeles. A short walking path boasted gorgeous views in every direction, but particularly impressive views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The visitor's center itself had an enjoyable wildlife movie, topographical and wildlife information, including a presentation highlighting how animals evolve in secluded regions to adapt to their specific environments. Several hikes of varying difficulty are available.

The Hoh Rain Forest is a rare temperate rainforest for the United States, located about two hours from Port Angeles. The result of the massive amounts of precipitation in the area is a lush array of coniferous and deciduous plants and trees through the Hoh River Valley.  Crystal clear water and dense, mossy woods makes for spectacular scenery.

With miles and miles of beaches to choose from, there are countless beaches to explore. I would have driven all day just to reach this particular beach—Ruby Beach, had I known how amazing it would be. Haystacks, driftwood logs, and beautiful rocks made for a picturesque experience and offered plenty of built-in toys for the kids. With rocks to climb, sticks and rocks to throw, and waves to chase, they were in heaven.

Stephanie Meyer's book Twilight might have alerted the world to the existence of Forks, Washington and its surrounding area, but no one can question that this scenic gem with all its natural treasures was spectacular long before her world of vampires and werewolves existed.  The next time you are planning a family vacation, consider this area and the adventures that can be found there.  With rain forests, beaches, mystical towns and outdoor fun, there is definitely something for everyone.

For more information on the area or if you have questions on military rates and discounts, visit

-------------- is proud to be featuring the travel articles of Erica I. Pena-Vest to our users. Erica is a travel industry veteran with over ten years of experience in public and media relations. Erica has worked with hundreds of travel writers before becoming one herself in 2004. As a Navy wife, Erica understands the needs of military families and focuses her research and articles to travel deals for those in the armed services. Erica's travel column is appropriated titled "Sweet Land of Liberty". works hard to bring a multitude of resources and information to our audience. This site has thousands of pages of resources and information. There is something for everyone. Users refer to, as the "the Go To Site" for the military and veteran communities. When the next tour is back home, it's on