Pacific Northwest Travel Guide: Part 2- Olympic National Park
Spending two days out in the woods initially didn’t sound like much of a vacation to me. I’m not a hiker and the only outdoor activity I do in the summer involves swimming in the ocean. But, I was persuaded that the weather would be cooler in the Pacific Northwest and Olympic National Park had more to offer than just hiking trails.
So I went off into the wilderness and geared up for what nature had to offer. Camping and hiking can be fun, but they also challenge you in different ways. Using your resources, having the perseverance to continue up a mountain when you want to give up, and putting in the effort to set up your “home” is all part of the experience.
And to everyone who doubted my outdoor skills, you’d be very proud of me. I survived the wild with limited cell phone service and no shower for two days! This vacation was a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively.
If you read part one of this travel guide, you already know that this trip began in Vancouver and continued onto Victoria, BC. From here The Black Ball Ferry Line will take you to Port Angeles, Washington. Stop by The Olympic National Park Visitor Center to pick up your map and ask any questions you might have before entering the park.
Part of the journey is driving from place to place and there’s so much to see along the way. Drive about an hour to Marymere Falls at Lake Crescent. After a day hike, drive 90 minutes to the Kalaloch campsite. (For all my Twilight fans, you’ll drive through Forks along the way!)
If you’re renting a tent and other equipment, you can have it shipped to the Eighth Avenue UPS store in Port Angeles. We went with Outdoor Geeks for our camping needs. Make sure to reserve your equipment in enough time to have it for delivered in time for your arrival.
Swain’s general store in Port Angeles has everything for your camping/hiking needs. If you forgot to order or rent something, Swain’s will likely have it. Don’t leave without getting a bag of the 25 cent popcorn on your way out!
Fuel up for your day with smoothies and sandwiches at Country Aire Natural Foods. This place is a smaller scale whole foods, but so much better! Some of the specialty items included local honey, Washington state wines, delicious smoothies, fresh deli sandwiches and baked goods like lemon-fig cookies.
This market is a one-stop shop for all the food you’ll want to grill up at your campsite.
Hike to Lake Crescent where there are two trail options. Marymere is an easy, mostly flat trail that you can complete in under one hour. The payoff is a gorgeous waterfall.
Mount Storm King trail is a much longer, harder and steeper hike, but the payoff is unbelievably beautiful. As hard as it was and as sore as my body was the next day, the view from the top made it all worth it. This hike can take you close to four hours so get an early start and bring snacks with you to enjoy for when you get to the top.
Camping by the Beach
Kalaloch Campground is a great choice for beginner campers like me. There’s access to bathrooms and running water. The campsite is just a short walk to the beach and you can hear the waves crashing from your tent. It’s magnificent. This is one of the rainiest places in the country, but we lucked out with sun and warmth on the trip The days are long here and the sun sets after 9 pm in the summer. Walk down to the beach to check out the tree of life and definitely don’t miss the sunsets.
Stop along the way
Ruby Beach is unlike any other beach I’ve been to. It’s like something you only see in pictures and movies, but it actually exists! The driftwood and sea stacks are a sight to see!
Camping in the Rainforest
Solduc Falls is a beautiful area of Olympic Park with natural hot springs, waterfalls and a few easy hiking trails. The hike to Sol Duc Falls from The Sol Duc Resort was a flat 2.8 miles.
Just when you start to wonder if you’re getting close, you hear the sound of rushing water get a little bit louder and you arrive to this…
Take a different route on the way back. Lovers Lane trail is another 3 mile option.
Enjoy the night sky with a bottle of wine and some s’mores around the fire. A good night’s sleep awaits you when you’ve been trekking through the rainforest for miles and miles each day.
There’s no better teacher than Mother Nature to show you how to slow down, breathe in the fresh air and savor each moment you have in this lifetime.
I hope you found this guide useful in planning for your future trip to the Pacific Northwest. If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below.