Located just west of Seattle, the Olympic National Park encapsulates everything that attracts travelers from all over the world to Pacific northwest region. Nature has bestowed beauty upon this region in abundance. With its snow-capped mountains, gushing waterfalls, alpine lakes, rugged coastline and lush, fairytale rainforests, there are endless opportunities to explore and lose yourself in nature.
If you are short on time but excited to explore more of the beautiful nature in Seattle, this post details all the best national parks in beloved Washington.
There are multiple points of interest in the park, each with its own parking and facilities. The sequence in which you would visit these points depends on where you are staying and where you approach the park from. Instead of staying in Seattle and approaching the park from south, we stayed in Edmonds, north of Seattle, and reached the park from East. We had a very good reason to – going to park involved crossing Puget Sound on a ferry, and this is an experience I wouldn’t recommend missing out on. We drove the car straight onto a giant ship, parked it there, and had around three-quarters of an hour to ourselves on the ferry to enjoy the vistas, take pictures, drink a cup of warm coffee in the freezing cold.
After reaching Kingston we got back into the car and continued driving towards the park. It is basically a drive on Hwy 101 with detours/side trips to various destinations you want to explore.
If you plan on having a packed day, definitely bring food with you. We stopped at Port Angeles for breakfast and packed ourselves some sandwiches for lunch. Needless to say, ensure that your car’s well fed too!
Your first acquaintance with the Lake Crescent will be through this lake. Crystal-clear, mirror-like and flanked by tree-covered mountains, this lake is a sight to behold. Words won’t do it justice; the serenity is something to be experienced in person.
SOL DUC FALLS HIKE
Next, we made our way to Sol Duc falls trailhead. The hike from the trailhead to the falls is about a mile long, and is an easy one. It is also very scenic; the trail weaves through old growth forest, and there are small creeks and waterfalls with cute little foot bridges sprinkled throughout. There was this velvety green moss on every surface you could see, there was snow at times, and on our way back, we even saw the fog rolling in.
This is a magical place, something these beautiful pictures fail to capture.
There’s also a hot springs resort on the way to the trailhead. Do check it out if you have time.
And finally, the raison d’etre for this trip, and for my interest in the Olympic National Park in the first place. Hoh is a temperate rainforest. It is the wettest place in the contiguous United States, and is also called the quietest place on the planet.
What struck me there, and what stayed with me after the visit was the color green, and the profusion of it. The forest was wild, something that was abundantly clear even on the well-worn Hall of Mosses trail. True to its name, there was moss on every surface all along the trail, on the trees that stood tall and tangled, on the shrubs and the bushes, on the fallen trunks and branches. We were there after the crowds had thinned out, and frankly speaking, it was rather spooky, a feeling further exacerbated by the overcast day and the occasional drizzle.
I would recommend visiting the park in early spring like I did. Many roads inside the park reopen for the season around this time, the weather is pleasant and most importantly, it’s too early for the summer crowds.
All I had was one day for Olympic National Park during this trip. And, now that I have had a taste of what this place has to offer, I am already planning my next visit!
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