We’re headed to the Olympic National Park and some of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States. Visiting the Olympic Peninsula in June means we don’t have to share the experience with many other visitors. After a hearty breakfast at the Ocean Crest Resort in Moclips, we headed to Lake Quinault, home of one of several rainforests in Washington’s fog belt. Ok, I have to stop for a moment because it wasn’t just a hearty breakfast, it was awesome. Our meal consisted of veggie frittata, hazelnut crusted French toasted baguette, and creme brulee oatmeal. All of this while we enjoyed a view of the Pacific Ocean. This definitely helped start our day off right, and capped off a fantastic stay at this oceanfront lodge.
The rainforest at Lake Quinault is a surreal experience. It truly feels like another world. I can’t even find words to describe the moss, lichens, ferns, and trees to be seen at every turn. We were so amazed at our surroundings that it took us two hours to walk the 1/2 mile loop trail near the entrance to Lake Quinault.
Next stop, Ruby Beach. One of many easily accessible beaches along the coastline portion of route 101, the loop road around the Olympic Peninsula. A short hike and you’re surrounded by large sea stacks and bleached driftwood on the rock- and pebble-strewn beach. Maybe there’s sand somewhere on this beach, but I didn’t see it. Perhaps at low tide it would be apparent…? The beach consists of smooth stones that decrease in size as you get closer to the water. Off in the distance, the aptly-named Destruction Island lighthouse keeps watch over the coastline. This lighthouse went into service in 1889 to warn sailors of the dangers hidden in the fog of the rocky Washington coast. The lighthouse is no longer in use and sadly no longer maintained.
Taking the loop road north from Ruby Beach, it’s an inland journey to the Hoh River Valley. This rainforest region is where we are greeted by majestic Roosevelt Elk as the day transitions to dusk. First a cow, then two bucks feeding along the side of the road. They were all a bit camera shy and we wisely chose not to follow them into the woods to create a photo op. The drive up the Hoh River Valley provides surprise views of the wide expanse of the river, moss-covered trees, and some brave campers. I am a fan of camping, but don’t think I could do it in any area that bears call home. We’re off to our $85 bargain hotel in Forks, then headed to the mountains tomorrow.