Olympic National Park

The middle of May supplied an excellent time to visit Olympic National Park, which contains glacier-coated mountains, the Pacific coast, and the rain forest and alpine environments in between.  Initially set aside as a monument in 1909, and converted to a national park in 1938, Olympic houses some of the most pristine old-growth forests in the continental United States.  It is the 13th largest national park by acreage, and the 7th-most visited park in the U.S.

The Hoh rain forest, which receives an annual total of around 150 inches of rain each year, is the rainiest place in the continental U.S.  True to form, it rained consistently from Wednesday evening when we arrived to the park, through Sunday morning when we left.  This did have the advantage of perhaps keeping crowds down and wildlife out, as we saw an abundance of slugs and toads on the trail, and plenty of birds flying or swimming about.  Temperatures in May were perfectly pleasant for hiking.

Camping along the Quinault river.
Elk in the Quinault rain forest.
Pacific coast
Camping along the Hoh river
Detour out of Olympic to Dungeness Spit, the longest continuous natural spit in the U.S.  The spit contains a wildlife refuge and an active lighthouse for nearby shipping, and is conveniently located in a rain shadow from the main peninsula, offering a much-needed chance to dry out.
Overlooking Strait of Juan de Fuca into Canada from Dungeness County Park.
Despite moderate temperatures at sea level, it was still snowing at Hurricane Ridge.
A slight break in the clouds on the way down the mountain from Hurricane Ridge.
Elwha river
Decommissioned dam on the Elwha river has led to environmental rehabilitation.
The Goblin Gates on the Elwha river.

Four days and 40 miles of hiking wasn’t nearly enough time to explore this park.  I hope to return to climb a mountain during clear weather.

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