Olympic National Park in 8 days

We have reservations for four nights #A011 and a semi peekaboo ocean view at Kalaloch in Olympic National Park. When we decided to visit the park I knew we needed to divide our time between the coast and the north. I secured the reservations the day they opened and lucked out with the Kalaloch one, not so much the Sol Duc (later on this). The site is tight but manageable, as we get to keep the truck here, the weather perfect, and a first evening provided a magnificent sunset!

Great site but in a few years the vegetation will be hiding the view.

Super lucky to have sunsets every night we were here. It was a nightly migration for all the campers to hit the beach for sunset.

It’s Tuesday and we drive to Lake Quinault thinking we will kayak. We drive past the lodge, parking at the USFS station and getting information on kayaking as the lake is owned by the Quinault Indian Nation. We have to get a permit and inspection, so we do that, pay the fees but in the end the lake is to windy and it’s not 70 degrees, so we tour the lodge and eat lunch (so worth the visit), hit the local museum and head out on the Quinault River Road loop. This loop is 28 miles, super pretty, rain forest scenes, a waterfall, sword ferns for days, lots of no pavement/tight lanes and the Kestner Homestead trail. Heading home we get gas in Queets, and when we get back to camp we take the trail to the Kalaloch Lodge and check it out. It’s been a foggy day.

The lodge is so well designed!

The tree at this day use area was super impressive.

It’s July 18 and our son Ian is coming to join us! We clean up the trailer, enjoy the sun at the campfire center and read. We also hear that we now have to boil our water due to a pressure drop in the water tank, or a valve mishap by an employee. Ian arrives around three, puts up his tent and opens his birthday gifts. Last year we did the same in Glacier NP. Dinner is perfect, we have a baked apple pie for dessert, a campfire and another glorious sunset.
Up in the morning and a quick breakfast, day packs are packed and were headed for the Hoh Rain forest. A ranger told us this area can be a one car in, one car out situation at times so hence the early start. We visit the visitor center, listen to a talk on elk and head out on the Hoh River Trail. Our focus is the Mineral Creek Falls, a 5.4 mile round trip. It’s overcast, perfect weather for hiking, and the trail is easy. It’s awesome to see a wild river, the falls are great (Ian hikes to the top), and there are minimal other hikers on it. We snack twice along the way, try and find the open meadow at Tom Creek, to no avail. Driving back we stop at the two little stores for fun and at one (forget the name) we are amazed at all the merchandise and the story we hear of the Russian migrants. We had stopped at the display earlier about it but the shop owner continued to fill us in more. Another great dinner, campfire and fabulous sunset.

Lots of visitors and so we decided on the Hoh River Trail to get away and see the waterfalls.

The day was overcast but the river was wild and beautiful.

Sword ferns for days and the sighting of a bear – oh my!

Nothing like a family dinner!

Breakfast and getaway day for all of us. Ian makes us steel cut oats and off we all go-he south, us towards Sol Duc Campground. We stop in Forks (I read the Twilight Series) for lunch, groceries and a trip to the post office. Arriving at the campground, our site is in loop B #77. Loop A is more level, loop B not so much and it’s dark (solar needed). Our site is short but manageable, however we can not park our truck in it, a first for us. Also to the right of us is a group of 7 in the late teenager variety. Their site is tiny so I know it will be interesting, luckily we don’t hang out during the day, but we do sleep here. Also realize that I teach high school and love kids, but am skeptical about that many, close by, being quiet as I wouldn’t be at their age. We settle in, and go look at Sol Duc Lodge. Anyway…they are great that Friday night and by 10pm we are all asleep.

Sun and blue sky above in our site, and a cool 70 degrees.

The lodge isn’t old school as fire came though.

Up and since it’s so dark the campground is morning quiet. We head for Hurricane Ridge on Saturday because there is roadwork on the highway except for the weekends. Our plan is there today and kayaking on the Crescent Lake tomorrow because there won’t be holdups. Arriving around 10:30 we snag a parking spot, and go the visitor center. After pictures of the snow capped peaks we take the trail to Sunrise Point. The trail is great, there are placards telling about all the vegetation, flowers are everywhere, and the views are breathtaking! Driving back to Sol Duc we drive the road to Log Cabin Resort. Back at camp we enjoy some Olympic wine, build a fire, and keep the blue jay group away. They are nothing compared to our neighbors who decide to stay awake to celebrate their last night -actually it was only two that decide to have a heavy duty conversation until all hours. I normally don’t mention neighbors but our campsite would not be one I would return to. The A loop looks better at Sol Duc and of all the NP we have been to, this park is truly limited by 25ft in my opinion. Back in the day there were not the sizes in trailers that we have today.

Parking could be an issue at times, but those views!

Glacier time!

Best backdrop ever!

Only a few of these Avalanche Lily’s left blooming on the trail and I found one!

It’s Sunday, July 22 and heading to Lake Crescent we see it’s a bit choppy, but the air is warm. When we were at the visitor center at Olympic, before hitting Hurricane Ridge the ranger told us that we should put in at the boat ramp by the lodge. Arriving we considered not kayaking due to the choppy water, however the air temperature was perfect and in we went. The lake is carved by a glacier and the water is stunning. After a great time using our arms, getting wet and taking pictures we docked at Barnes Point, walked around then headed back. After changing and stowing the kayak we drove the short drive over to the Lake Crescent Lodge and had a fabulous lunch and local beer. Walking around after lunch we headed to Marymere Falls and walked the trail. It was a full day and we celebrated with a campfire.

The water was beautiful and the views were never ending.

Love old lodges and the design. The restaurant was well situated for the views.

Marymere Falls

Campfire time which was odd due to all bans – but not here.

Up early to head over to Sol Duc Lodge and the mineral pools. It was 11$ for the day to use the pools and well worth it. Coming back to camp after an 90 minute soak we ate breakfast then hiked the trail to Sol Duc Falls. These falls are the best ones in the park I feel. The shelter access structure is also pretty cool to explore. We headed back to the pools around 5 and found them a bit more crowded but manageable. Did another soak and celebrated with another campfire, chatting with new neighbors about Denver and the cannabis business.

The trail to the falls from the campground was quiet and full of surprises with views, colors and lack of people.

We saw all the falls in the park and by far Sol Duc Falls are the best.

The place is interesting and quite the global gathering. We were so happy we went in the morning and in the late afternoon. I could spend all day here – but not my skin.

Leaving Olympic NP on July 24, we began our trek south and without any plan or reservations except to be in Portland by Friday for the weekend.