The Kitsap Peninsula  is separated from the Olympic Peninsula  by the Hood Canal, a 1.5-mile-wide, 65-mile-long channel of saltwater. Highway 101 follows the west side of the “Canal Zone,” providing a delicious tidewater drive through second-growth forests with countless vistas of the waterway from every possible angle.
The road hugs the canal, tucking in and out of various inlets along the way. Much of the route between Quilcene  and Union  is minimally developed, and scattered resort estates dot the shoreline. Several places sell freshly shucked oysters along the way.
At the southwest corner of Hood Canal, the waterway makes a sharp bend, angling northward and nearly turning the Kitsap Peninsula into an island. South from this elbow is the largest town in the area, Shelton , and at the head of the canal is the fast-growing region around Belfair.
In addition to the glorious vistas along Hood Canal, you’ll discover camping and hiking at two state parks and on nearby Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park  lands, plus outstanding scuba diving and fishing. Lake Cushman  is a popular fishing and summer recreation spot, just east of the Staircase entrance to Olympic National Park, and the dam at the lake’s southeast end produces some of Tacoma’s  electricity.
Like many other features in Washington, Hood Canal received its name from Capt. George Vancouver during his 1792 exploration of Puget Sound. He called it “Hood’s Channel,” after a British naval hero, Lord Hood, but a printer’s error in Vancouver’s report changed the word channel to canal.
Hood Canal is not a canal, but actually a long, glacially carved fjord. The waters of Hood Canal are more susceptible to pollution than other parts of Puget Sound because of limited tidal flushing. Rapid development around the southern end of Hood Canal has led to increasing concerns over water pollution, and several beaches have been closed to shellfish gathering in recent years.