Olympic National Park is an incredibly breathtaking and wonderful place, especially for a nature lover and photographer like myself. We spent two glorious days here during our Pacific Northwest vacation last September. The beach is nice, but give me some mountains and I’m a happy lady. Olympic National Park has numerous ecosystems which made is a really intriguing park to visit… you can see the mountains, beach, AND a rainforest!
Since we only had two days to spend in Olympic National Park, we obviously couldn’t see everything. We stopped at some amazing places including Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, Sol Duc Falls, Hoh Rainforest, and Ruby Beach. In that order since we drove out from Seattle. Don’t expect a lot as far as luxuries go… we stayed in budget motels and ate a mom and pop restaurants. I’m sure there are a lot of camping sites and cabins around if you’re into that, too. What really matters is the beauty of the nature around you.
We started our Olympic National Park trip at Hurricane Ridge. (Side note: You need a national park pass to enter Olympic National Park. We purchased one at the Ranger Station before getting the to park entrance) The weather didn’t cooperate with us the day we visited. It was VERY foggy and overcast and it even started to snow a little bit on our way out. The hike itself was AWESOME even though we didn’t get to see all the amazing views. Guess I’ll have to go back one day. We saw some wildlife, too. A few deer and marmots. I really wanted to see a mountain goat even though that might be a little terrifying in person. (If you don’t know how massive (and cute) mountain goats are, google it!)
My first impression of Lake Crescent was disappointment. Driving west from Hurricane Ridge is probably not the best view of the lake, because the view looking east was MUCH better. We only stopped for a few minutes to take some pictures so I don’t have much to contribute as far as the area itself goes. It’s a very beautiful and massive lake. It’s also right off the main road, so you couldn’t miss it even if you tried.
Sol Duc Falls
Sol Duc Falls was complete bullshit. The hike to the falls was pretty short (two miles round trip, easy hike). The trees and plants on the hike were pretty to look at… since we were getting close to the Hoh Rainforest, the surroundings started to look rainforest-like. Anyway, the waterfall itself was not that impressive. I think the ones we have here in the Smokys are much better.
The reason it was bullshit was that is was super crowded. There is a Sol Duc Falls Resort that a lot of people go to for the hot springs (we skipped it due to reading a lot of negative reviews). We did stop in at the resort to check out lunch options but just got snacks because it was SO expensive. I’d never recommend Sol Duc Falls to anyone… just felt like a waste of time we could have enjoyed somewhere else.
We did, however, see some salmon swimming (and jumping!) upstream at the Salmon Cascades, which were right before you entered the Sol Duc Falls area. That was really awesome to experience. Nature is cool.
The Hoh Rainforest was spectacular and one of my favorite places in the park. We walked two trails, the Hall of Mosses and the Spruce Nature Trail. They were both fairly easy trails to walk and totaled about 2 miles. We spent a couple of hours exploring and taking pictures. The ground was pretty damp (obviously it would be in a rainforest), so if you go pack good hiking shoes.
Ruby Beach was the last stop we made in the park. It’s a gorgeous beach, but not the typical beach most people go to on vacation to relax. There were massive rocks, petrified wood, and it was a little bit chilly. The walk down to the beach from the parking lot took about five minutes. There are some good views as you walk down to the beach. It was fun to just walk around and explore for a while.
Olympic National Park is hard to beat. It embodies the Pacific Northwest. It’s so beautiful in so many places and an awesome place to visit as a photographer and a nature lover. I hope to go back to visit one day. It’s a wonderful little corner of the United States.