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Places In Washington: Olympic National Park

Basic Information

Picture from Olympic National Park

Narrative

One of the must see locations while visiting Washington State is to drive over to the Olympic Peninsula and spend a day visiting Olympic National Park:

The park is absolutely huge and impossible to really see in one day, but that was all the time my wife and I had to experience this park.  We began our day by driving north on Highway 101 from Aberdeen to the coastal section of the park.  We knew the highway had reached the coastal section when we began to see tsunami warning signs:

Picture from Olympic National Park

We then found a place to park at one of the various lookouts.  From there we had a really nice view of the beach below:

Picture from Olympic National Park

As we walked down to the beach we noticed that some of the pine trees had this deformity on them:

Picture from Olympic National Park

I am not sure what causes this deformity, but I only saw it along the coast line of the park.  Once we made it down to the beach we found that it really wasn’t a beach, but instead just a muddy surface:

Picture from Olympic National Park

It did not matter to us because who comes to Washington to go to beach?  We had a good time walking along the shore line and taking in the views:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Picture from Olympic National Park

After we finished our walk along the shore line we then went back to my Jeep and drove over to the Hoh Rainforest section of the park.  This section of the park is usually clouded in and rainy, but fortunately on the day we visited it was mostly blue skies:

Picture from Olympic National Park

All the rain that falls on this rainforest has caused the majority of the trees to be covered in a thick layer of moss:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Incredibly anywhere between 140 – 170 inches of rain fall in this rainforest every year that sustains this mossy environment:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Picture from Olympic National Park

There are a number of trails that lead into the Olympic National Park backcountry from the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center that I wish my wife and I had time to explore.  However, our one day itinerary allowed us only enough time to walk on the short natural trail adjacent to the visitor center:

Picture from Olympic National Park

This place is so wet even on a nice day like the one when we visited, the ground is still soaked with water making this a very swampy environment:

Picture from Olympic National Park

In sections where the marsh was too large to get around, the trail had a bridge to cross:

Picture from Olympic National Park

The trail was a nice introduction to the rainforest which reminded me of the Fangorn Forest for those that have watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Unlike the Lord of the Rings, as we walked down this trail none of the trees talked to us though a few of them did rise to some impressive heights:

Picture from Olympic National Park

The trail was very short and we completed it in under an hour, but it was enough for us to really enjoy the forest before hitting the road again to explore another section of the park:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Our next stop was to probably the most visited area of the Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge.  From the Hoh Rainforest it took us about two hours to get to Hurricane Ridge.  As we drove there here is one of the views looking towards the Olympic Mountains with Lake Crescent in the foreground:

Picture from Olympic National Park

When we reached the turnoff to Hurricane Ridge in the town of Port Angeles on the north side of the park, the road began to ascend its way up the steep slopes of the Olympic Mountains.  This gave us some nice views to enjoy to include of the 10,781 foot Mt. Baker:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Here is a closer look at the glacier clad Mt. Baker which is one of the most active volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest:

Picture from Olympic National Park

As we drove further up the road we had more views of other mountains in the Northern Cascade Range:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Here is a closer look at these impressive mountains:

Picture from Olympic National Park

We could also see the Strait of Juan de Fuca that separates Washington from Vancouver Island in Canada:

Picture from Olympic National Park

We also began to have views of some of the peaks that compose the Olympic Mountains:

Picture from Olympic National Park

The road ends at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center which just has stunning views of the Olympic Mountains:

Picture from Olympic National Park

We had to park a long ways down the road because of how many vehicles were visiting that day.  We did not mind though because the walk up to the visitor center featured amazing views:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Picture from Olympic National Park

By the time we got to Hurricane Ridge it was late in the afternoon thus the sun was beginning set:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Picture from Olympic National Park

The temperature was also noticeably dropping as well, but we had jackets and hats on to keep warm and let us enjoy the views:

Picture from Olympic National Park

The highest point in the National Park is the 7,980 foot Mt. Olympus that was obscured by 6,995 foot Mt. Carrie directly in front of us:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Though these mountains do not rise to the heights of Colorado’s 14ers, they look just as impressive because they rise up from sea level:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Most of them have similar elevation gain as most of Colorado’s 14ers:

Picture from Olympic National Park

These mountains are also capped in glaciers which makes them challenging to climb:

Picture from Olympic National Park

We spent about an hour and half up on Hurricane Ridge before deciding to drive back to where we were staying in Tacoma.  To reach Tacoma we had to stay on Highway 101 as it traveled south on the eastern side of Olympic National Park.  The highway had the Olympic Mountains rising over it on the west and the on the east we could see the Puget Sound:

Picture from Olympic National Park

As we drove back to Tacoma I even spotted Mt. Baker again rising high above the Puget Sound:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Here was the last view we had of the Olympic Mountains that day before it became too dark to see them:

Picture from Olympic National Park

Conclusion

The Olympic Mountains on a clear day are an impressive site to see from either Seattle or Tacoma.  However, they are even more incredible to see up close and personal at Olympic National Park.  This is definitely one of the National Parks that I plan to return to one day because it is worthy of further exploration.  Our one day drive completely around the park allowed us to just scratch the surface of how awesome this park is.  I can’t wait one day to have the time to see more.

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