We can’t be so close in proximity to three different national parks and not visit at least one of them. During my quick trip to the Seattle area in December, Olympic National Park was that one park.
In all reality, Mount Rainier National Park was closer to where we were staying. But given the weather, we couldn’t even see the mountain — the cloud cover was just too thick. And based on our not-so-ideal trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks several years ago, we thought it best not to ruin our first Rainier experience.
It took us about three hours to get from our hotel to the southern edge of Olympic National Park. Three hours in torrential rain. I didn’t mind, though. If it hadn’t been raining, my first Pacific Northwest experience would have been a little disappointing.
It was clear just how much rain had fallen when we got out of the car for my mandatory park sign photo. We had to jump over a full culvert. The “solid” ground was wet mush — and my inadequate boots failed to keep water out.
But I had to get my sign picture — without it, it’s like the visit never happened.
After lunch at Kalaloch Lodge, we drove to Ruby Beach. We weren’t sure how close to the beach we’d be able to get with all the wind and rain, but we made it pretty close.
We continued our drive through mist-laced mountains and forests north to La Push. The wind was even wilder at First Beach — I had to push my whole body into the car door to open it, the wind was so powerful against it. The wind whipped Jason and me all around — it was such an awesome experience and SO worth the detour!
We wanted to visit the one open park visitor center in Port Angeles before it closed, so we didn’t make any other stops in the park. However, we made note of the hauntingly beautiful Lake Crescent along the northern edge of the park. We WILL plan a trip back there for sure!
This was a super quickie national park visit for us, but we made the most of our limited time. What we saw of Olympic National Park — which, admittedly, wasn’t much — was beautiful. We’ve always intended a trip just to visit the park, and this short visit confirmed that a longer visit will happen.