Washington state, nicknamed the Evergreen State, has so much natural beauty with three national parks: Mt Rainier NP, North Cascades NP, and Olympic NP. For the past several weeks we have been enjoying the diversity of Olympic National Park. Encompassing 922,651 acres, it has three distinct and very different ecosystems:
- glacier capped mountains,
- more than 70 miles of rugged coastline and
- a temperate rain forest.
In previous blogs we described our visit to mountainous Hurricane Ridge, and in the past two blogs we talked about the rugged coastline. This blog is dedicated to the Olympic rain forest.
On Thursday we visited the nearby Hoh Rain Forest an hour away from our campground in Forks. The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the last old growth temperate rain forests in the Western Hemisphere. It averages fourteen feet of rainfall annually. The trees here can grow up to 300 feet tall.
As we approached the fee booth at the entrance to the park we were met by a long line of cars. We wondered why the line was moving so slowly and when it became our turn to show the ranger our pass, we found out why. The ranger told us the parking lots were all full and we had to wait for a car to leave so we would have a place to park. We didn’t mind chatting with the friendly park ranger for a few minutes until we spotted a car coming from the opposite direction and it was our turn to enter. The ranger said they have been this busy all season. I can’t imagine what it is like on the weekend! (The cost to visit a national park is now $30 per vehicle and luckily we both bought senior passes when we became 62 which never have to be renewed)
This river is fifty miles long and begins high on glacier capped Mount Olympus and descends 7,000 feet to the Pacific Ocean. Hoh is a Native American term meaning “fast moving water”. Members of the Hoh Indian tribe still live in the area. By the way, Washington state has more major cities with Native American names than any other state.
We were last here in 2014 and we were somewhat surprised in this visit. Washington state has been very dry and it certainly shows in the rain forest. The area did not have the lush rain forest feeling we remembered from our visit four years ago. Instead it was hot, dry and the trails were dusty.
Though we were surprised we still enjoyed our two rain forest hikes.
Today ( Saturday) we received about a quarter inch of rain. The first rain in a very long time. I could almost hear the grass, which crinkled when walked on, breathing a sigh of relief as it drank in the precious rain.
Tomorrow we move a little further south in Washington for some camping on the beach. Hopefully the marine layer will cooperate!