Best laid plans. Our intentions for the trip? Spend a large amount of time in the mountains hiking was part of our planning session. How do we plan? We plan by including all things we can see and do, prioritize them by must see, to would like to see, to no strong desire to see. Then we begin to look at time available, proximity of places and finally cost.
Home base was downtown Seattle. Parking was $50/day at our hotel. We chose to rent a car for the final 2 days as opposed to the entire stay. Lyft and walking became the primary modes of transportation.
Therefore, several distant sights and activities were eliminated. Eliminated were Mt. St. Helens, and Mount Rainier. Kept on the agenda. Olympic National Park.
First stop. Visitor center at Port Angeles. There were two park rangers in the visitor center. One a relatively new employee and one with plenty of experience in the park. We were given a tour of the large park map on their counter top.
We wanted to know which areas were the best for our brief visit to the park.
There are four distinct areas of the park: The drier east lowlands that we passed through during our 2 hour drive to the visitor center. The alpine area closest to this visitor center. The Pacific coastline with its beautiful beaches. Finally, and most visited, the west forested area which includes the Hoh Rain Forest.
We were instructed that trying to see the entire park in one day is not possible and recommended that we spend the entire day in one of the four areas of Olympic National Park. We had a dilemma with that suggestion. It is likely that we will never travel here again. So we decide to see as much of each area as we can before the sun sets on us.
In hind sight, we are glad we chose to see as much as possible. Each area is close enough to drive to in one day, you just can’t enjoy long hikes while in each area. We drove through a small portion of the drier east side, so other than Port Angeles, this section was a drive through.
Hurricane mountain was closest to Port Angeles, so up the mountain road we went. Like all of the other roads in the park, it is beautiful. It is also populated by plenty of wildlife that we caught crossing the road a few times both up and down the mountain.
Next up was the west side forested area. We stopped in Forks, WA for lunch. Forks, WA is famous for being the filming location of the Twilight movie series. The highlight of this section and probably the entire day was our time in the Hoh Rain Forest.
Finally, we drove down the western shore and spent the remainder of our daylight hours on Ruby Beach.
The drive back to our Seattle hotel went through the southern forest which is beautiful as well. All in all, we were happy that we kept plowing through the park. If we ever make it back to the Washington shoreline, we will spend more time in the mountains and less time in the city.
Here is our trip to the Olympic National Park in pictures. Which, as we know, tells more than my words ever could. Enjoy.