This would be the last “touring day” of our road trip and the most relaxed! We had started our trip on the eastern and driest side of the Olympic National Forest and would end it in the one of the wettest areas in the United States!
This is how we broke up our road trip:
Day 1: Read about Hurricane Ridge
Day 2: Read about Wild Coastline
Day 3: Hoh Rain Forest
Summary of all 3 days (read here)
Olympic National Park: Hoh Rain Forest
Hoh Rain Forest
Day two of our Olympic National Park road trip ended with a wonderful cabin stay on First Beach in La Push, Washington (see Olympic National Park Road Trip: Wild Coastline). From La Push, travel 14 miles east, back towards Forks, WA. Then another 15 miles south. From Highway 101, there are plenty of signs for the Hoh Rain Forest. It is one of the most visited areas of Olympic National Park. Once you leave the highway, it is another 18 miles on Upper Hoh Road.
Hoh Rain Forest is one of four rainforests in the park. However it is the only rainforest in the park that has been designated a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Compared to Amazon Rainforest, the rainforests in Olympic National Park are temperate rainforests, meaning they are much colder. The average amount of rain in the Amazon is about 108 inches a year. The Hoh Rain Forest averages 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet!). The ideal time to visit isn’t like most places, when it is sunny and warm. To experience the Hoh fully, try to visit October through March, during the rainy season when there seems to be a constant mist in the air. That is when the moss is at its greenest. You are also more likely to see a banana slug. These slimy creatures can grow up to 10 inches long (25.4 cm)!
The first stop should definitely be the visitor’s center. There you can see rainforest exhibits and get trail brochures. Trails range from a 0.1 wheelchair accessible loop through old growth forest to 17.3-mile route to Glacier Meadows, on the shoulder of Mount Olympus. Tent and RV camping is also available.
Forty-eight miles west of Hoh Rain Forest is Ruby Beach, one of the most well known beaches in the area. Ruby Beach got its name from the rose colored crystals that are in the sand. Most of the beach is covered with ocean-smoothed rocks and huge pieces of driftwood. There is little stream section that involves crossing in ankle-deep water. We were glad we had on our Tevas!
The path down to the beach is a little steep, but only about a quarter of a mile. Once on the beach there is so much to see and do! We spend a could of hours picnicking, exploring the tidal pools, and hiking around the sea stacks. Joe embraced his “inner boy” climbing on anything accessible, and managed to not break any bones!
Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station
Forty-two miles southeast on Highway 101 is another of Olympic National Park’s beautiful landscapes, Quinault Rain Forest. The Quinault valley is known as “Valley of the Rain Forest Giants” because it believed to be the area with the greatest number of record size giant tree species in the smallest area in the world. Joe was in tree heaven!
There is a visitor center at entrance to the park. It’s not as big as at Hoh, but the rangers are just as nice and informative. Be sure to pick up a hiking brochure. Trails range from an easy 1/2 mile loop to more strenuous trails on the south side of Lake Quinault. Camping is available in the park and around picturesque Lake Quinault.
From Quinault Rain Forest, you can end your Olympic National Park in a couple of ways. We chose to drive south and eat a scrumptious seafood dinner in Aberdeen, Washington and sleep in an historic bed and breakfast. If you have the time, another good choice would be driving southwest for more beach time at Ocean Shores, Washington.
So have you been to Washington or want to visit? Please share by commenting below!
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