We had underestimated how large the Olympic Peninsula in Washington is! We booked ourselves into an RV Park in Hoodsport, right alongside the Hood Canal on the eastern side of the peninsula. The Hood Canal is a fjord forming the western lobe of Puget Sound in the state of Washington. From here we wanted to tour the peninsula, visiting the various locations we had previously researched. Turns out the closest location we wanted to see was at least 2 hours drive away, circling the entire peninsula turned into a 13 hour day.
However, the sights were beautiful and we arrived back at the campsite exhausted, but satisfied with having done the loop. This post is a report of that trip.
After an early rise, the first point was Hurricane Ridge, located in the northern part of the Olympic National Park. It was so early that the mountains were entirely covered in morning mist . . until we passed the 5000 ft elevation mark. At that hight we literally passed through the low hanging fog to be greeted by bright blue skies with some fluffy clouds and we were presented with amazing views of an impressive mountain range called the Olympic Mountains. Mount Olympus is the tallest and most prominent mountain in that range.
Because of this mountain range, you cannot drive THROUGH the National Park, you need to drive AROUND it, then take one of several roads into the Park. They are one-way though, so you need to double back and then travel to the next road into the park, hence the 13 hour day.
After the Hurricane Ridge visit, we drove all the way to the West Coast to a beach called Rialto Beach, the most unusual beach we have ever seen! Instead of sand, it is a rocky beach with perfectly polished stones. Pretty much every rock we picked up was flat! Like a pancake. Not a single sharp rock to be seen. We imagined that they all had that shape because of the constant pounding of the Pacific Ocean, which would also be the reason behind the ENORMOUS amount of driftwood that has been thrown up onto the beach. Even entire redwoods were lying there, washed up during some monstrous storm.
After Rialto Beach, we headed back into the National Park, via the Hoh River entrance to the Hoh Rain Forest. While there was no rain, in fact the forest was bone-dry, you could clearly see this is a location that is normally very wet. The rain forest is known for its moss-covered trees. A very different view of a forest, literally every tree is laden with moss. Every tree trunk and every branch is covered, like wearing a jacket made of green fur, giving the whole forest a strange “feel”. Some of the darker corners of the forest actually looked outright creepy, like the trees were being taken over by some alien life form!
Sadly, we had to resist the temptation of hiking one of the many trails because of time.
After exiting the park back to the main road, we continued south around the mountains. We had now passed the half-way mark and were essentially on our way back. It was 3pm.
After passing five beaches, named Beach 1, Beach 2, Beach 3, Beach 4 and . . . wait for it . . . South Beach, we entered the park again at Lake Quinault. If you go far enough along the road, it becomes a dirt road and you drive through a serene forest lined with cedars, the ever-present moss-covered trees and pass the occasional vista of the Quinault River with mountains in the background. Even though the dirt road was not very challenging, we were glad we had the All-Wheel-Drive with heavy duty tires.
This is what it looks like.
We arrived back at home base around 8pm, utterly exhausted and too tired to work on our photos. We were in bed by 9:30.