The diversity of Olympic National Park is incredible. The landscape varies from mountains to beaches to rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula. We discovered just a sliver of the treasures that the Park has to offer in our five days there last month.
The Olympic Mountains form the backbone of the peninsula at the Park. On our first day there, we were greeted by this view of the range peeking out of the clouds.
Later in the day, we were able to capture this clear image of Mount Olympus as it rose from the clouds.
The cloud cover persisted throughout day one. It made for some interesting views and images of the mountain range.
While the mountains frequently were above the clouds, at ground level it was a different story. Travel along the road to Hurricane Ridge looked more like this.
Olympic National Park has diverse wildlife and plant life–some of which can only be found on the peninsula. We frequently spotted the small Blacktail Deer throughout the Park
The many beaches on the Pacific Coast areas offered glimpses of a variety of creatures.
Bird life along the coast flourished. We spotted numerous birds, such as these pelicans, anticipating the next salmon run.
With a little extra effort we were able to find large schools of ocean invertebrates including these starfish at beach #4.
A park ranger advised us to visit both Rialto Beach and Beach #4. Great choices. When we arrived at Rialto Beach, the crashing waves had a different sound than we had heard before. Rialto Beach is composed of smooth pebbles rather than sand. The pebbles rushed back to sea as the waves retreated and then would crash into new waves that formed. The sound was distinct. And loud.
The sun came out enough for us to get a fairly clear view of the sea stacks at Beach #4.
Impressive numbers of sea stacks are perched along the coast.
Temperate Rain Forests
Much of the Park is rainforest. Not tropical rainforest, but temperate forest. The diversity of the plants and the size of the trees was phenomenal. The Kalaloch Big Cedar, which is a 1000 years old+ recently split in two due to the wet winter. Go see it when you are travelling the west coast of the peninsula.
The Hoh River Valley is an excellent example of temperate rainforest. There take the easy Hall of Mosses trail for some amazing views of the greenery.
Olympic National Park has some of the best hiking we have had on our journey. We took full advantage. The Park (of course) has a diverse selection of trails too ranging from hard and steep to short and easy.
Hard and steep–Mount Storm King:
Easy and short–Sol Duc Falls
Take your pick, there is a level and an experience to suit most tastes.
Olympic National Park literally has something for every visitor. If you are interested in a specific experience chances are you will find it. If you are looking for a diverse wilderness experience, the park will serve that up too. We are glad we found so much at the Park. We expect to go back for more in the near future.