“go from breathtaking mountain vistas to colorful ocean tidepools”
Olympic National Park is a land of beauty and variety. A day's exploration can take you from breathtaking mountain vistas with meadows of wildflowers to colorful ocean tidepools. Nestled in the valleys are some of the largest remnants of ancient forests left in the country. Olympic is like three magical parks in one. Take some time to explore its many faces! Here you will find Pacific Ocean beaches, rain forest valleys, glacier-capped peaks and a stunning variety of plants and animals. Roads provide access to the outer edges of the park, but the heart of Olympic is wilderness; a primeval sanctuary for humans and wild creatures alike. Hurricane Ridge is the most easily accessed mountain area within Olympic National Park. In clear weather, fantastic views can be enjoyed throughout the year. There are several roads in the park, but none penetrate far into the interior. The park features a network of hiking trails, although the size and remoteness means that it will usually take more than a weekend to get to the high country in the interior. The sights of the rain forest, with plants run riot and dozens of hues of green, are well worth the possibility of rain sometime during the trip, although months of July, August and September frequently have long dry spells. An unusual feature of ONP is the opportunity for backpacking along the beach. The length of the coastline in the park is sufficient for multi-day trips, with the entire day spent walking along the beach. Although idyllic compared to toiling up a mountainside (Seven Lakes Basin is a notable example), one must be aware of the tide; at the narrowest parts of the beaches, high tide washes up to the cliffs behind, blocking passage. There are also several promontories that must be struggled over, using a combination of muddy steep trail and fixed ropes.
Shi Shi Beach is a short drive (7 mi) beyond Neah Bay then a short, easy hike to the beach. One of the most beautiful places on Earth!
We did Seattle --> Hurricane Ridge --> Hoh --> Kalaloch Beach --> back to Seattle, and while it was a long day of driving (roads only go around the park, not through it), it was worth it. Even driving around Lake Crescent was gorgeous. The admission to the park is good for, I believe, 7 days, and I don't even think you have to pay to visit some of those beaches along the way. I did see a bear, which was wild, so be bear aware.
Olympic Hot Springs (within park): These alkaline mineral water springs consist of 21 seeps located in a bank on Boulder Creek, a tributary of the Elwha River.
From Port Angeles follow U.S. Highway 101 west approximately eight miles to Olympic Hot Springs Road. Turn left and follow the road south into Olympic National Park. Three miles from Highway 101 you’ll reach the Elwha Campground. Continue past this facility to the Elwha Ranger Station. Beyond the ranger station veer right as the Whiskey Bend Road leads to the left. Follow this road six miles to its end and the trail head for Boulder Creek.
The trail is mostly along a paved road and several washouts will be encountered. The pools are across the bridge after the old lodge’s parking area. The last pool is about 100 yards up the hill from where the trail appears to end. It’s well worth the extra exertion. The upper pool is the cleanest and has the best views. It’s also the most likely pool to be clothing-optional when the area is crowded.
Simply the most beautiful National Park I've ever been to, there is nowhere in the United States I'd rather visit.
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Olympic National Park
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