Geoducks don’t quack. They probably don’t make a sound at all.
The animal is a regional delicacy that is fun to catch and eat. Curious about what a geoduck might be?
So were we, and it’s fascinating. Here’s what we found out.
Let’s jump in!
What Is a Geoduck?
The delicious geoduck is a Pacific Northwest clam (Panopea generosa). We got that right, a clam and not a bird. Make sure you say “gooey duck” when you pronounce it.
Panopea is the world’s largest burrowing clam. The Native American tribe Nisqually coined the animal “gweduc,” meaning “dig deep,” because of the way the bivalve burrows so far below the seafloor.
Large indeed, a geoduck weighs two to three pounds on average. The largest verified bivalve was 8.16 pounds, though anecdotal reports say they can be much bigger.
The invertebrate is a bivalve, meaning it has two shells. A good portion of the siphon or neck hangs out of the shell, and the meaty mantle is inside. The creatures anchor themselves in the seafloor and filter feed for plankton.
Geoducks can burrow as deep as two to three feet. They mature and reach their maximum size in about 15 years and can live as long as 168 years.
What Does Geoduck Taste Like?
You must wonder about the first person who pulled a massive phallic-looking creature from the mud and said to themselves, “This looks delicious. I think I’ll eat it.” Or, maybe they were just very, very hungry.
Regardless, the gamble paid off. For something that comes from the salty ocean, geoduck flesh is sweet. Pulled from the shell, the meat is creamy white. A quick parboil makes removing the leathery casing from the meat easy.
For those that enjoy mollusks, you’ll find the texture appealing. It’s a bit chewy like a clam yet tender like an abalone.
You can eat the geoduck raw or cooked. Chefs find it easy to prepare. You can sauté it faster than an egg.
The meat works well when cooked in brown butter and wine sauce. Or an Asian stir-fry with chili peppers, garlic, and fish sauce may work for you. A quick sear and the clam is ready for any recipe.
Once you’ve decided how you want to eat your geoduck, a decent 1.5-pound clam is the perfect main ingredient for a party of four.
Where Can You Find Geoducks?
Geoduck’s geographic habitat is along the Pacific Northwest coast. You can find them from Alaska to Baja, California. However, they’re most abundant in the coastal waters of Puget Sound, British Columbia, and Alaska.
Digging for geoducks is a popular recreational activity, though there’s limited public beach access for it. To harvest in intertidal areas, the water must be two feet below normal low tides, which only happens about 20 times a year.
Anyone digging must have a valid license to include shellfish harvesting. The personal daily limit in Washington State is the first three clams dug. You may only dig by hand or with nonmechanized tools like shovels. Once your work is complete, fill the hole back up.
The most abundant geoduck populations are west of Clallam Bay in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There are over a dozen locations to hunt for the clams but know that nearly half of them must be accessed by boat.
If you want to learn from experienced geoduck diggers, Dosewallips State Park is the best location.
Best Camping For PNW Geoduck
The best place for geoducks is also near some of Washington State’s most outstanding natural areas. The Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest are mere miles from the coast.
Dosewallips State Park Campground
Lucky for geoduck diggers, the best place to hunt for the clams also has a campground. Dosewallips State Park is the perfect place to settle in for your beach excursion. Good digging is about a mile walk from the campground.
The 125 sites accommodate tent camping and RVs up to a 35-foot fifth wheel. Amenities include 20- and 30-Amp full hookups, showers, and more. Make sure you reserve your site and away from the road.
In the 425-acre great getaway, you’ll find fresh and saltwater access. Take your leashed dog for a walk on the recreational trails. Head into Olympic National Park for another adventure.
Seal Rock Campground
Seal Rock Campground is in the Olympic National Forest. The 41 sites only accommodate dry camping but do support big rigs with pull-thrus. The facilities are ADA accessible.
Campendium reviewers found Seal Rock a great beach weekend. They noted the facilities were clean and other campers considerate. They loved walking the trails or the beach at low tide. Harvest your geoduck here and cook them that evening on the campfire.
Fun Things To Do After Digging Your Geoduck
Whether you were lucky or not in reaching your geoduck limit, there are more things to do. Check out these outdoor adventures.
Steam Donkey Trail
Brinnon, Washington, is home to the Dosewallips Steam Donkey Trail. The 2.5-mile loop is moderately challenging, taking the average hiker an hour and a half to complete. It takes you over winding terrain deep into the forest. Stream crossings may be wet or dry, depending on the season.
Visitors on alltrails.com report the trail is well-kept and a few reported seeing the local elk herd nearby. Your dogs are welcome. But make sure you keep them on a leash.
Ranger Hole Trail
Near Steam Donkey Trail in Brinnon, Washington, is the Ranger Hole Trail. The 1.4-mile out-and-back trail is described as moderately challenging. Hikers note it’s a tad steep at one point but enjoy getting in the water once they arrive.
The peaceful hike is known for birding and running. It’s family-friendly, and pets are welcome as long as they’re on a leash.
Wind down in a relaxing way at the Finnriver Farm and Cidery in Chimacum, Washington. It’s about a 30-minute drive north of Dosewallips State Park and well worth the drive!
The founders, Keith and Crystie Kisler strive to combine small family farming and community into their sustainable farm and cidery.
Finnriver hosts events, tastings, live music, and more. While you enjoy a hard cider from locally-grown organic fruits, grab a bite to eat in the kitchen. If you can’t get enough of their cider, join the quarterly cider club for special benefits. This includes discounts on shipping costs for the latest Finnriver has to offer.
Is a Pacific Northwest Geoduck Road Trip Worth It?
We’ve only touched one of the many outstanding excursions in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula. But geoduck digging is certainly something you should add to your bucket list. The delicious meal is well worth the effort!
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