Four years ago to date, I drug Nick out to my home state of Washington to explore. We had a week and a rental car to discover all of Washington. One of our favorite memories of the trip was seeing first hand all of the awesome camping that Washington had to offer. We vowed that we would return to Olympic National Park and next time, we would be camping.
Visiting Olympic National Park (ONP) this time around, we still had some restrictions (26' travel trailer, required cell reception for work) but, I think we did pretty good. Coming from the Port Angeles area, we took a short drive over to the Heart of the Hills campground in the ONP. Heart of the Hills campground is used mostly a basecamp for exploring the Hurricane Ridge area, and most campers usually only stay for a day or two. The camp sites were large and so green that we could have stayed here for a week easy.
Exploring the Hurricane Ridge area can easily be tackled in a day or two, with a handful of hikes ranging in length, all with pretty epic views. The nearby Queets fire was still blazing while we visited, limiting our views, but it was beautiful none the less. There is also a trail right in the campground that leads through the old growth forest, and is a pretty easy 4 mile round trip. Many bicyclists were tackling the 12 mile ride up to the ridge via the main road, but we agreed it looked way more fun cruising back down. Our campground host happened to be into astronomy, and volunteers his time each summer to teach campers about the night sky and the use of his huge telescopes. We really enjoyed the nightly National Park ranger talk programs , and the stargazing was an added bonus.
From there, we headed over to the Elwha area to check out the now non existent dam and some of the campgrounds further west. Altaire Campground was currently under water with the recent dam removal, and was not open. Elwha Campground was nice, good cell coverage and large spots, but a bit smaller and not as much to do in the area. We attempted to visit Madison Creek Falls, but seems everyones else in the area had the same idea :)
Heading south, along the edge of the park, we searched to find a "home base" for exploring the Hoh Rainforest and the coastal beaches. We first checked out Bogachiel State Park, which was nice, pricey, and had slow upload speeds. We already knew the Hoh Campground did not have service, so we took a chance and ended up camping at "Hard Rain Cafe" right outside the entrance of the rainforest. While nothing fancy, this spot was perfect for us as we were only 20 minutes away from the rainforest, 20 minutes from Ruby Beach, and 20 minutes to Forks, the closest town.
The Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center area is actually pretty small, with only about 3 adjoining hiking trails, making it easy to see most of it in a day. Of the hikes, we enjoyed the Hoh River Trail. The trail was a flat and scenic 5 mile hike and with a beautiful meadow that Elk frequent. As previously mentioned, we love National Park ranger programs, and the Hoh amphitheater was probably the coolest one we have been too. During our stay, we also met up with friends from back in Columbus, OH. We both left for the road in May, and just happened to be 30 minutes from each other near Forks. It was so nice to hang with friends over a campfire and swap stories.
During our stay by the rainforest, Brittany left on a trip with her friends down highway 101, and Nick spent most of his time on exploring the 73 miles of ONP beaches. Of all the nearby beaches, his favorite was the 2nd Beach because he found it be the least crowded, the most area to explore, and it had a ton of amazing rock formations. During our stay, he spent most of his time learning about tide patterns and found a ton of starfish and sea creatures on Kalaloch Beach 4. We were really hoping to camp at Kalaloch, but they were booked far in advance, and South Beach looked to be full during our stay as well. Taking off from the coast and heading towards Mt. St. Helens next!