The Wonders of the Olympic Peninsula – Washington

by Ben Atkinson on July 23, 2013

Olympic National Park - Hoh Rainforest

The Olympic Peninsula boasts incredible scenery along the Pacific Coast as well as in the interior Hoh Rainforest. Your base of operations for this trip is nearby Seattle. Spend your first day taking in the local flavor. You can visit the Space Needle if tall buildings excite you. The famous Pike Place Market is one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the country. If you are looking for something a little different, be sure to check out the Fremont Troll.

When you are ready for a little adventure, head to Port Angeles on the northern shore of the Olympic Peninsula. This is the main entry point for the Olympic National Park, and where you need to secure any backcountry permits.

I recommend spending night # 1 on Rialto Beach and night # 2 in the Hoh Rainforest. This lets you get a taste of the wide variety that the area has to offer. Take note that you need permits for each. Hiking down the beach in the late afternoon reminds me a lot of The Goonies, which was filmed less than 200 miles south in Astoria, OR.

Rialto Beach

There aren’t too many people out and about once you get past the small town of Forks, a town now infamous as the location of the Twilight Saga. When I visited in 2009, the town was at the height of the Twilight Tourism boom, featuring such outfits as Dazzled by Twilight- a tour bus that featured all of the locations mentioned in the books. There aren’t that many people traveling way out there just for that anymore, which is probably for the best. Although when I talked with some of the locals they did mention that while frustrating at times, it was good for the economy. So it goes.

Rialto Beach Tide Pool

Rialto Beach is nicely secluded once you start hiking to the north away from the parking lot. There is ample driftwood for classic beach bonfires too which is a nice plus. Just remember to keep the fire under control and put it out when you are finished. You will likely see a wide variety of creatures in the various tide pools. Don’t forget to keep high tide in mind when pitching your tent- You definitely don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with the ocean at your feet!

Beach Bonfire

The Hoh Rainforest features a variety of trails and the usual designated campsites. However they do allow you to camp on exposed riverbank, which is definitely the way to go. We hiked in several miles and then cut across along the shore to a large gravel expanse. This is a great place to camp because you can get away from the trail for more privacy and fires are again much easier as you are in the open near to the water. Keep your wits about you though as this is still bear country.

Olympic Peninsula

Quick Links:
NPS Olympic NP Website
Backcountry Permits
America the Beautiful NP Annual Pass




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