Often referred to as “three parks in one,” Olympic National Park boasts a trio of ecosystems: glacier-capped peaks, old-growth and temperate rain forests and wild Pacific coastline.
The Quinault Valley, or the “Valley of the Giants,” for example, is home to the largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world, as well as the Quinault Rain Forest, which receives an average of 12 feet of rain per year. Dripping, moss-draped maples create a primordial scene. Keep your eye out for the stately Roosevelt elk.
Head along the coast to the Hoh Rain Forest, but first stop at Ruby Beach for the sea stacks. Known as “ghosts of former islands,” these mammoth rocks are remnants of eroded cliffs.
At the Hoh, take the Hall of Mosses path into the older part of the forest, where the primeval spirit is strong.
Journey to Sol Duc and hike to Sol Duc Falls, climb to Mink Lake or do the Lover’s Lane loop. Then soak your sore muscles at Sol Duc Hot Springs.
Another scenic spot is Lake Crescent. The water of this stunning blue-green, glacially-carved lake is so clear you can see as far down as 60 feet in places.
At the northeast corner of the park is Hurricane Ridge. Nearly a mile high, the ridge is accessed via a winding road. At the top, gaze at the dramatic views of jagged mountains and wilderness.
There is much to experience within Olympic National Park. Like fine chocolate, it’s best appreciated and savored in small pieces.