Experience the still relatively undiscovered beauty of the Olympic Peninsula. There is something for everybody, weather you are a traveler, sightseer, hiker, fisherfolk or an outdoors person.
Speaking of favorable times during the year to visit Olympic National Park, we aren’t always sodden out this way. Check out my Notes on our weather A Smithisonian Institution publication description of our region:
“The entire region receives in excess of 110 inches of rain annually. Tangled vegetation extends from the seashore to the less dense fir, spruce, and red cedar forests at the river headwaters in the 5,000 – 8,000 feet heights of the Olympic mountains. The natural beauty of the Quileute shorelands is so striking that, aside from the reservations at La Push and the Lower Hoh River, the entire littoral is preserved as the Pacific Coast Area of the Olympic National Park”
Wilderness beaches such as Rialto Beach, the moss-draped beauty of the Hoh, Queets, and Quinault Rainforests, the many area fishing rivers, as well as the Olympic mountains in the Park’s interior offer a wealth of opportunities for hiking, biking, sea-life viewing, camping, fishing, river-rafting, or just relaxing and taking it all in.
Poetry of the area
If your time permits, read this absolutely poetic text on our rainforests, beaches, mountains, and regional wines lifted from an article entitled “Moss Tourism” (Conde Nast Traveler, August 1998).
View Tidetables to help plan your time at the beaches. Rialto Beach, the only drive-to beach in the immediate area, is a spectacular, driftwood-strewn beach on the north side of the Quileute river about 4 miles from the Manitou Lodge. The surf is generally heavy, the driftwood logs huge, and the sunsets are magnificent. The Rialto crescent extends for about 1.5 miles and ends with two towering sea stacks, tidal pools, and “Hole-in-the-Wall”, a surf-carved tunnel in a headland. The 18 mile hike north from Rialto Beach to Cape Alava is a favorite with backpackers.
Other wilderness beaches in our immediate area are Beaches #1 – #3 extending south from the mouth of the Quileute River. These beaches are long, flat crescents popular with photographers due to sea-stacks (a well-known sea-stack complex, the “Quileute Needles”, lies just offshore), tidal pools, and eagles. Access to beaches #2 and #3 requires hikes of 0.5 to 1.5 miles, respectively. The headlands at beaches #1 and #2 can’t be passed, but one can backpack south from 3rd beach along the coast for about 17 miles to Oil City.
The Hoh Rainforest
The Hoh Visitor Center is about 30 miles from us, and the Hoh Rainforest is possibly best known attraction in the Olympic National Park. Average annual rainfall in the Hoh Valley is in excess of 150 inches, and has a spectacular effect on the vegetation. Along the “Hall of Mosses” Trail, the moss-draped maples are extravagantly green year round, so much so that somebody has written that the air appears to be jade-colored. The Spruce Trail follows the glacier-carved Hoh river maple and red alder “bottom”. Scenic raft trips are available in summer along the Hoh River, and guides can be contracted throughout the year for fishing and scenic trips. We can help you put together recreation packages.
Other Regional Activities
Other regional activities include world-class fishing, mountain-biking, hiking in the Olympic mountains and along the wild beaches that comprise the Pacific Coast portion of the Olympic National Park, or a visit to Cape Flattery, the most Northwestern point in the lower 48 states. A boardwalk recently completed by the Makah Nation, on whose lands the Cape sits, has considerably eased the hike. The views of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Tatoosh Island, and Vancouver Island from the Cape cliffs are inspiring. While visiting the Cape, you won’t want to miss the outstanding Makah Cultural Center and Museum at Neah Bay. These are just a sampling of the possibilities on the West End. For a more comprehensive look, consult some of the links listed below and visit the Forks Chamber of Commerce Five Day Guide to the West End.