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Exploring Port Angeles & Olympic National Park

Posted on 08-Jan-2014

Today was our last day on the Olympic Peninsula and I’m sad to think we’ll be leaving tomorrow. What an incredible place! I had forgotten how much this place reminds me of southern Alaska, with the snow-capped mountains in the distance and big glacial rivers carving their way through thick rainforest. I love this place.


Olympic Peninsula Olympic Peninsula


We are staying in Port Angeles, a historic coastal town that is a major port for all the shipping and boat traffic coming in from Asia or anywhere in the Pacific. We can look out over the water at night and see giant barges and cargo ships drifting silently out on the water, sailors enjoying a rest before they round the peninsula and drop down to nearby Seattle.

Yesterday we hiked for several hours through the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, a beautiful and lush green forest with thick moss covering all the trees. Vibrant green ferns blanketed the entire forest floor. We stopped for a picnic lunch at a magnificent picnic spot just beside the river where we could see snow-covered Mt. Olympus rising above us. I was certain that there was a bear hiding just out of sight across the river at the edge of the forest, watching us curiously as JD boiled a pot of water on his camp stove and passed around cups of hot chocolate to everyone. We sat beside the river and enjoyed the sunshine warming our faces. A perfect way to spend the day.


Mt. Olympus Mt. Olympus


Hoh Rain Forest Hoh Rain Forest


The group is getting along great. There are just eight of us on the tour, and we always seem to be laughing about something. Bob keeps us entertained with his “positive pessimism,” saying such things like “It may be raining, but at least we will be hiking for six more hours.” Another of my favourite Bob quotes was “I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.” This morning we drove out to the coast through a misty rain, which I didn’t mind at all as it added to the character and ambiance of this rugged and wild wilderness on the far edge of the continent.

We kept a close watch for vampires and werewolves as we drove through Forks Washington and right to the sea. From where the road ended we hiked up the beach along a deserted coastline as a light rain continued to fall and waves rolled in and crashed at our feet. Sun bleached driftwood decorated the entire beach, twisted and gnarled into unique natural sculptures lining the edge of the forest. Our destination was a natural arch in the rocks which we could actually walk through as we carefully stepped over colourful starfish clinging to the edges of the tide pools. We turned back before the tide came in and trapped us out on the far side of the arch, and as we journeyed back we were rewarded with a few rays of sunshine dropping down through the clouds and lighting up the day.

On the way back to Port Angeles we stopped to soak in Sol Duc hot springs, a historic spot buried deep in the forest. We even managed a short hike up the river to a beautiful waterfall cascading through a narrow gorge. What a fantastic place to be. But the journey must go on, and tomorrow we head for Mt. Rainier National Park!


Sol Duc Falls Sol Duc Falls


If you are reading this and thinking you would love to see this beautiful part of the world with a group of like-minded travellers, then Grand American Adventures have a selection of tours that take in the beautiful north west USA.

Check out Northwestern Parks and Wildlife for 12 days of adventure or if time isn't on your side then the 7 day Olympic & Vancouver Island In-Depth trip could be the one for you.


View all north west USA tours


Topics: National Parks, Tour Leaders, USA Northwest