I made a similar post a while back for Great Smoky Mountains National Park and got some good advice, so I thought I’d ask again for my latest trip. I’m planning a little vacation in October at Olympic National Park in Washington. If you’ve been there before, will you tell us about some of your favorite trails and spots for wildlife viewing? What were your favorite finds there?
I’m definitely going to check out the Hoh rainforest and the salmon cascades on the Sol-duc river (I’m hoping I’ll be there at just the right time for the fall salmon run). If the tide cooperates, I’ll do a little tidepooling along Kalaloch beach. If anyone knows a good spot for whale watching, I’d love to see who’s migrating while I’m there. I’ve never seen an orca before, so they’re pretty high on my list. Additionally, I’m always on the lookout for good spots to find salamanders and other amphibians, and I know there are a few species unique to the Olympic pensinsula. If you have any tips for finding them, let me know. I’m debating whether to explore the Storm King area… I’ve been told it’s a fairly rough climb, and I’ll have another chance to get up to higher elevations and see some of the more alpine-loving wildlife from Hurricane Ridge.
When I visited with teenagers, we did a kayak tour of Freshwater Bay with “Adventures Through Kayaking” in Port Angeles - it was a very nice way to see tidepool life, since you can cover ground quickly and get fairly close to rock faces.
Logistically, we didn’t make it around the peninsula as much as I wanted - my kids were carsick with the long drive past Crescent Lake, and veto’d going that way a second time.
I’m rather envious as I think you will find amazing sights! It has been a long time since I’ve hiked in the area (they were just starting to drain Elwah dam to restore the water shed). I think if you do a “waterfall” search, you’ll find some amazing places to hike to in the region. This spot on Crescent lake was amazing for its azure water.
Wow, that’s the natural color? That’s gorgeous!
Yes, the natural color was especially brilliant (unbelievably gorgeous) in that area* of Crescent Lake.
Excerpt from Wikipedia
Lake Crescent is known for its brilliant blue waters and exceptional clarity, caused by low levels of nitrogen in the water which inhibits the growth of algae. It is located in a popular recreational area that is home to several trails, including the Spruce Railroad Trail, Pyramid Mountain trail, and the Barnes Creek trail to Marymere Falls. The Spruce Railroad Trail follows the grade of what was once the tracks of a logging railroadalong the shores of the lake. Following this trail on the north side of the lake, one can find the entrance to an old railroad tunnel which is now part of the Spruce Railroad Trail that also provides access to “Devils Punch Bowl”, a popular swimming and diving area.
*This is where I took that photo
You nailed the main highlights.
I have returned from my trip. I think Olympic probably rates in the top three of the National Parks I’ve visited so far. It was absolutely beautiful and unlike my trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, I did not have to compete with the crowds to see anything. Here’s just a few highlights. I posted nearly 200 observations as well including many fungi left at very broad levels of identification, so any identification help would be appreciated.
Seeing the salmon jumping up the falls on the Sol-Duck river was by far one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. My only disappointments were the fact that I missed the Olympic marmots by about a month (they were all hibernating already) and the day I spent along the coast section of the park wasn’t quite ideal (tides too high for tidepooling, rough waves, and no whale sightings. Just bad timing on my part I guess).
It sounds like a truly great experience. My memories of the Olympic Peninsula stand out for the natural beauty there and the sense of peace and old spirituality to be found the forest areas.