The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and Dungeness Recreation Area are adjoining pieces of land that form a single large combined outdoor recreation area and wildlife refuge. Wildlife refuges are maintained as wildlife habitat while the primary purpose of recreational areas is outdoor recreation for people. However, the specifics of how they are managed may be blurred to those who visit. The refuge is only open to the public from sunrise to sunset, while the recreational area has a campground. The recreational area allows bikes, dogs, jogging and horses while all four are prohibited on the refuge due to the damage these create to wildlife habitat.
However, despite the differences in management and ownership (the recreation area is county while the refuge is federal) the reality is that preserved recreational habitat is better than no habitat and so wildlife freely moves between the two areas, as they form one large tract of land with preserved coastal forest ecosystems in place.
As these lands function as one larger ecosystem, and because they are approximately 5 miles north of Sequim rather than being in the town itself, and because they form one large area I have put most of the information about this area into my Dungenes National Wildlife Refuge page.
There is no charge to use the day use area of the county recreational area lands, but there is a $3 charge per family (four adults) to enter the refuge itself. The refuge includes the 5 miles of Dungeness Spit, at the end of which is a lighthouse which may be toured. It is also possible to reach the lighthouse by boat if reservations are made ahead of time. While it is possible to find wildlife here during all seasons, it should be known that it is a very popular wintering ground and migration staging area so visiting in the summer months will not yield too many birds here.
The day use area includes picnic areas, trails, and a small playground that is mostly used by children from the campground (which also has its own playground near each restroom). Horse trails wander through the south and east areas of the county recreational lands area.
Be warned that hunting is allowed on the county recreational lands during the state hunting seasons.
National Wildlife Refuge Web Site:
County Recreational Area Web Site:
After many of the trees were cut down and Sequim started to become a farming community based on this being one of the few flat sections of land on the Olympic Peninsula, it was found that one of the crops that grew very well here was Lavender.
"Lavender Capital of North America" is now a registered trademark of Sequim.
Today, there are not one but TWO annual lavender festivals that happen on the same weekend in July, when most types of Lavender are in bloom. Outside the annual festivals the lavender farms are open during the lavender season (certainly usually July and August) and some places have their farm stores open occasional hours outside the times when tourists would normally be looking for lavender products. As the town is on highway 101 between some of the main attractions of the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park and the Puget Sound population centers, tourists stop through town during any time of the year. However, the peak lavender tourist season is certainly July with some continuing through August.
Now, about the annual festivals: one festival is oriented around the downtown area and is more of a street fair, which includes lavender products (soaps, flower arrangements, honey, body lotions, etc.) as well as artwork, food (including such things as lavender ice cream), entertainment of various types (mostly music) and hundreds of purple decorations, plus a series of lavender farms that are open to the public free of charge. The other festival is held at one of the local farms and also includes music, artworks, etc. and the farms on its tour require payment of an admission fee which covers entrance to all of the farms. Both festivals tend to be held on the same weekend, which is usually the second to last weekend in July. In the past years the two groups that have sponsored each event haven't necessarily cooperated very well. However, in 2012 they have become quite a bit more open to the idea of working together to create more of a single large festival. The 2012 festival featured farms from both groups on a single map (with those farms that charge admission indicated on the map in a different color from those that are free to enter), a circulating bus running every 30 minutes going to many of the farms, and a reasonably coordinated set of information about what both groups are doing.
The Lavender Festival also includes such events as a "Cruise-In" and Car Show that benefits the local Boys & Girls Club.
During the big Lavender Festival it is easy to obtain information about the various farms and related events: just follow the signs to the lavender festival in downtown Sequim (or park downtown and follow the noise of the band) and you will find an information booth that has maps and various other information about the festival and the farms surrounding Sequim.
On Saturdays, Sequim also has its reasonably good sized downtown farmer's market. If you go downtown and are looking at mostly food and vegetables it is because you have visited the part of town that has been closed off for the farmer's market in the street, not the lavender festival two blocks over. On Saturdays information booths are located in the farmer's market as well as the lavender festival due to the number of people who wind up at the farmer's street market and wonder where the lavender festival and street market is located.
Outside the Lavender Festival, it is still possible to visit many of the farms. If the places are open and wanting people to visit there will be sandwichboard signs on the main highways and roads indicating how to get to those farms that are open. While the lavender won't be in bloom during the winter, there is also a fairly good sized "Holiday Bazaar" in December. The other possibility is to visit the web site of the festivals and growers associations and find out what is happening when.
Lavender Festival / Sequim Lavender Growers Association:
This is the downtown Lavender Festival plus the farm tours that are available free of charge. The street festival is generally slightly north of the main part of downtown, about a block north of the transit center. The farms are scattered all over the countryside around Sequim so it is best to get a map.
Sequim Lavender Farm Faire and Lavender Weekend:
These are the farms that charge for entrance and during the Lavender Festival have a tour that allows one to pay a single entrance fee to visit all of them. They are generally regarded as being fairly special display farms that charge an entrance fee for a good reason. I have not visited them yet so I can't say if this is the case or not. This group also has a "Lavender in the Park" event that is free of charge as part of its event.
FISHING in the bay ...salmon, bottom fish and cut-throat trout. Stream fishing for steelhead and rainbow trout ... less than an hour trip on easy access roads or walk on short paths.
CRABBING for the world famous Dungeness Crab.
CLAMMING is tremendous in this area and allowed on our private beach.
KAYAKING in the peaceful waters of the Bay and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
SWIMMING in Sequim's public pool or if you dare, the cool waters of Sequim Bay.
GOLFING with dining facilities and pro shops on two scenic 18-hole golf courses in Sequim Valley.
BIRD WATCHING in the area is ideal. You will likely see eagles, quail, hawks and many sea/land birds during their migration.
WINERIES in the area are the most distinctive small wineries in the state.
DUNGENESS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, one of a system of national Wildlife Refuges throughout the country, protects critical habitat for wildlife and provides viewing opportunities for people. Walk the DUNGENESS SPIT 4.5 miles to the DUNGENESS LIGHTHOUSE.
BIKE RIDE the Olympic Discovery Trail adjacent to the resort or mountain bike in the Olympic National Forest.
Get Face to Face with Wildlife at the OLYMPIC GAME FARM.
SKI or HIKE Hurricane Ridge at the crown of the Olympic National Park.
DAY-TRIP to nearby Port Townsend, or the Hoh Rain Forest, or FERRY to Victoria BC
Museum and Arts Center
Artifacts, antiques and historic discoveries and photographs of the region, including bone and tusk artifacts that were discovered near Sequim in 1975, from a mastodon, or woolly mammoth that was in the area 12,000 years ago. There are also exhibits on early agriculture and dairy farming.
Olympic Cellars Winery
It's in a neat old barn, and you get to taste the wine!