If you missed the intro post to this blog series, be sure to check it out here.
When Dan and I first got back from our trip and people asked what my favorite place was, I found it extremely difficult to narrow it down to just one. However, in telling people about our trip over and over, I realized that I consistently spoke about Olympic National Park with the most enthusiasm. While I’m so grateful to have experienced each and every destination on our trip, I eventually decided that Olympic National Park was indeed my favorite.
What’s not to love? Its coast consists of one majestic beach after the next, lined by forest and strewn with an abundance of drift logs and sea stacks. Meanwhile, the center of the park features countless forests and mountains, including Hoh Rainforest and Mount Olympus. While we didn’t have enough time to check out Mount Olympus, we made it a priority to check out Hoh Rainforest given the countless recommendations that we had gotten prior to our trip. It was incredible, but more about that later.
Being that our campsite was nestled in the trees overlooking Kalaloch Beach, it was quite magical. To fall asleep to our fire crackling and the waves crashing was surreal. Further, the intense morning fog made for the most incredible scene to wake up to, as the beams of light coming through the trees were so pronounced. You can see exactly what I’m talking about in the stunning photo that I started this post off with. It was taken by Dan at our campsite, and it is hands down one of my favorite photos from our trip.
Fortunately, our drive from Portland to Olympic was short enough that we arrived just prior to sunset. Needless to say, being greeted by a beautiful sunset over Kalaloch Beach was the perfect way to end our drive. Afterward, we headed to our campsite at Kalaloch Campground. Since we were essentially pros at setting up camp at this point in our trip, we were ready to go before the sun set completely. We made a quick dinner, drank some brews, and went to bed relatively early, as we wanted to be well-rested for the following day.
Dan and I woke up craving breakfasts fit for royalty and decided to try Kalaloch Lodge’s Creekside Restaurant. We ended up loving it, as it has ocean views and a great menu featuring local favorites, such as Dungeness crab and smoked salmon. Kalaloch Lodge in general was a gem of a place for those of you who are not into the whole camping thing.
Anyway, after our yummy breakfast, we headed to Hoh Rainforest, which is known to be one of the most thriving temperate rainforests in the United States. We decided to hike the Spruce Nature Trail – a whopping 1.2 miles. Although it was stunning, it provided only a glimpse into the majesty that Hoh Rainforest has to offer. Moss-covered trees and a mid-hike view of Hoh River make for a short but sweet hike if you are pressed for time. If and when I return to Olympic, I’d love to hike the more rigorous Hoh River Trail. The impressive 17.3 mile hike leads to Glacier Meadows, which boasts up-close-and-personal views of Mount Olympus.
After we explored the beautiful and much-anticapted Hoh Rainforest, we drove to Rialto Beach to check out infamous Hole in the Wall. The 1.5 mile walk from the parking lot is well worth it, particularly at low tide. When the tide is low enough, sea stars, anemones, barnacles, and the like are visible to the naked eye and are everywhere you look! This activity, more commonly known as tidepooling, was new to me and I absolutely loved it.
Our 1.5 mile walk back to our vehicle was accompanied by yet another amazing sunset. This time, the backdrop included giant sea stacks and made the view that much more mesmerizing. We ultimately made it back to our campsite and attempted campfire pizza, which was a big fat fail. We snacked on some snacks, drank our usual night cap, and hit the hay after a glorious, yet busy day.
Our morning was lazy, so we checked out of our campsite at noon – just in the nick of time. Prior to hitting the road again, we hit up Kalaloch Lodge’s Creekside Restaurant one last time. Our lunch was just as delightful as the breakfast we had the day prior.
Next (and last) stop…Seattle!