Olympic National Park


Brown=The only roads; Dark blue=Our path

Olympic National Park occupies most of the Northern Section of the Olympic Peninsula, NW Washington State. The National Park covers Mount Olympus (6,900 feet) and the foothills and valleys surrounding it. Because of the high snowfall in the area, it supports seven glaciers which feed the rivers surrounding it. The park has only radial roads leading towards the mountain so to access the different areas, it is necessary to exit the park and drive to a different entrance.

Taking over the campsite

We first visited the Hoh Rain Forest area, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the US lying along the glacier-fed Hoh River, West (rainy side) of Mount Olympus. Annual rainfall can be as much as 24 feet (compare with so-called ‘rainy’ Manchester, England with 24 inches). We stayed three nights in a beautiful campsite which was invaded early in the morning by Elks snacking on the bushes.

>200 feet above ground

Cheryl spotted a Great Blue Heron at the very top of one of the pine trees next to the campsite. Colin walked a portion of the Hoh Valley Trail, the main access route to Mount Olympus, to get a sense of the forest and some views of the Hoh River. Despite being ‘temperate’, we experienced an unusual heatwave with temperatures in the 90s.

We moved on to Fairholme campground on the Western edge of Lake Crescent, a 12 mile long and 600 feet deep lake on the Northern edgeLake Crescent - after the rain of the Park. The lake is surround by steep forested mountains and is a deep blue, tinged green at the edges, reflecting its high purity. We found it to be one of the most beautiful campsite areas we had ever visited, and ended up using it as our base for exploring the rest of the park, staying six nights.

We explored the Sol Duc area, famous for its Hot Springs Lodge. This gave Cheryl a rare opportunity to enjoy a massage followed by soaking in the Sol Duc Hot SpringsHot Springs with Colin. Colin took the trail to Sol Duc Falls and spent some time photographing the falls, mostly waiting for breaks in the footbridge traffic so the bridge would stop shaking. We both enjoyed taking the Ancient Groves Nature Trail, seeing some of the oldest growth Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, and Western Hemlocks. Cheryl enjoyed imagining the tree shapes to be living creatures (see below). Further down the road, we looked at the river area known as Salmon Cascades where, if the conditions are right, salmon can be seen jumping up the river returning to their spawning grounds.

We drove the long route climb to Hurricane Ridge, to one of the few areas from which Mount Olympus can be viewed from the road. On the way up we encountered a flock of very tame Grey Jays which were quite happy to feed from human hands (see photos and movie below).

One rainy day we visited Lake Crescent Lodge (built in 1914) and kept ourselves warm by the fireplace in the lounge. When the rain dried up, we were able to watch and photograph the clouds clearing over the lake and mountains.

Click on any thumbnail below to see larger image gallery.

From Cheryl: Are you like me, in that you see beyond the normal tree and imagine animals and monsters? No wonder the ancients thought the forests were possessed of spirits. These, in particular, ‘spoke’ to me. Can you see what I see?

Click on any thumbnail below to see larger image gallery.

Grey Jays at Hurricane Ridge

  • Olympic National Park

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    Visiting Olympic National Park, WA

  • 11 Comments on “Olympic National Park

    1. Cheryl and Colin: What beauty you are enjoying. I am amazed at how close you can photograph the animals. They look like they are used to showing their stuff. The birds look so tame to eat out of your hands. Mer would be in hog heaven there. Thanks again for sharing your travels. Truly amazing. Mer joins me in sending all our love. George
      From Cheryl: Thanks so much for your great comments. I think those birds and animals are indeed use to people, and knowing that we mean them no harm (at least in the parks). I bet Mer can train those crows of hers to come and get food out of her hand!!! You just have to hold still for hours . . . of course she can’t do that in her garden, against her nature! But I’m glad you are still enjoying our stories and pictures. Lots of love to you both.

    2. It s uncredible tre grey jay on your hand. Even in Paris, les moineaux ne font pas ça! Votre travel me donne des idées de voyage. I would like to do the same in France.
      From Cheryl: I think you should do a complete trip of France, why not? It would be great for you to see your country and send me pictures of all that you experience. Great idea!

    3. Pipple, just wunnerful stuff. PLEASE keep it coming!
      From Cheryl: You are a sweetheart. Thanks Arnie, we love that we are sharing this with you.

    4. Brilliant commentary and I love Oscar the Grouch, Cheryl! Where would we be without our imaginations. Let us know if you are close to Poulsbo or Port Townsend.
      From Cheryl: Dear Barb and Dean, Thank you for your sweet comments. We are leaving Victoria and heading west tomorrow, hopefully to see whales and an even more wild coastline. We will definitely let you know if we are in your neck of the woods! We so enjoyed meeting you, we want to follow up! Be well and thanks again for commenting on the blog.

    5. Absolutely the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. You must feel you are in heaven. You need to write a travel book on what to do and where to stay for all the campers out there. Your photos bring everything to life, so, so glad you are taking the time to write and share with all of us. Love you both, Mar
      From Cheryl: Great comments you made about our latest blog. I don’t know about writing for others. We’ll just be happy to remember where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced. Lots of pictures will help!

    6. Okay. It has finally happened. You two have made me almost want to go camping again! No wonder you stayed at your campsite for several days. Such a beautiful campsite: I want to go there! Amazing capture of the diving heron. wow! Handsome elk, awesome hiking trail photos of the trees, and those waterfall shots: so beautiful! How high did you have to climb for those? Adorable grey jay bird. It must have been so thrilling to have him eat seeds out of your hand. And yes, Cheryl, I could see all kinds of Tolkein-esque creatures in those moss covered trees. The Ents live!
      From Cheryl: Okay, it’s finally happened, ALMOST made you want to go camping again??? Pretty funny. Glad you enjoyed the diving heron, hiking the water trails for Colin (about 1.5 hours), and it was thrilling to have wild birds eating out of our hands, amazing feeling to have their little “toes” around my fingers. I’m so glad you saw the spirits in the moss trees, we are of one heart on that.

    7. I’m so glad you are enjoying my old stomping ground. Your pictures have brought back many memories of my “Bluebird” and “Campfire Girl” days. The leader I had was a big hiker, so we traveled many times to these areas. It was wonderful to meet you at Phil and Gayle’s and hopefully we will meet again soon. Enjoy the northwest!
      From Cheryl: You are so kind to comment on our blog. We’re so happy to have experienced some of your old stomping ground! Although I was a Brownie and Girl Scout, I certainly knew Bluebirds and Campfire Girls! We all went to the same camp for week retreats. It was wonderful to meet you as well. A pleasure to speak with you.

    8. Hello – I am happy to hear that Margery Silverton almost wants to go camping again. Keep up the good work!! Beautiful place.
      From Cheryl: The fact that Marge, ALMOST wants to go camping again. But not quite? We’ll keep trying to get her to see the light. Today is our last day in Victoria. We’re moving across the island to the west side, it’s suppose to be more wild, more beautiful, and more opportunity to see whales. Love to you both.

    9. Wow! That is one big elk. I am in Wy now and they are just starting to bugle. Great photos. You guys are living the dream. Great seeing you at the wedding. Xoxo Dennis.
      From Cheryl: Oh I love that you are in WY enjoying your home and the bugle calls. It’s such a beautiful place, I understand completely why you purchased a home there! I love that sound. I’m so jealous that you get to hear them!! Thank you for your kind words, as always. You are such a sweetheart. Great seeing you and Debra and meeting your daughter at the wedding, too!

    10. The pics continue to amaze and awe. Particularly love the hallucinatory visions – such the artist, you are, Cheryl.
      From Cheryl: Funny how you say hallucinating. I just have a very non-sophisticated idea of art!

    11. I am pretty impressed with Cheryl’s eagle-eye to spot the heron 200′ up in a tree! Pretty sure I would have seen one of the jays had it landed it my hand.
      From Cheryl: The beautiful calling noise had something to do with drawing my eye up to the top of the tree. But as for the jays, it took the crowd guessing, and then my use of an iPhone app (Birds of North America, a Peterson Field Guide) to finally find the proper name for our very common bird.

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