Camping, Hiking, National Parks & Monuments, State Parks, Olympic National Park, United States, Washington

Whirlwind Washington – Part 1: Quinault Big Sitka, Hoh Rainforest, and Rialto Beach

Well, aren’t these blog posts just ridiculously delayed or what?! In May 2022 I spent a week and a half in Washington. I had flown out to climb Mount Saint Helens, but since that only takes a day, there were more adventures to be had! Not sure why it took me so long to get some photos and words up, but better late than never I suppose.

I don’t know what’s with me and fast and furious trips around the Olympic Peninsula, but here we are again.. To kick off my week and a half in Washington we headed around the Olympic peninsula to chase national park passport stamps and to show me some new stuff that I hadn’t seen during my last fast trip through Olympic National Park.

A quick stop at the Washington capital in Olympia on our way to the peninsula. It was closed so we’d try again later in the week to see the inside.

The first stop as we neared the coast and Olympic National Park was the massive sitka spruce tree in Quinault. A very short path leads to this champion tree… yep, apparently there is a point system and rankings for trees! I didn’t know this… I thought to be a record tree you had to be the biggest, but the American Forests Association thinks otherwise. The more you know!

A sign points you on the short path from the parking lot
Behold, the world’s largest spruce tree, with 883 points! (Whatever those points mean)

Quinault’s record sitka spruce is thought to be 1000 years old, and stands 191 feet tall and is 17.7 feet in diameter. Standing next to it, I can confirm this is one HUGE tree. Fun and short detour!

Next up were some adventures to check things off in our national park travel journals, nab passport stamps, and it wouldn’t be an adventure without Eric miscalculating how much gas his truck had left before head into a remote aspect of the park (thank goodness for Queets!). First up was quickly checking out Second Beach, which is accessed through a short walk through the rainforest to the beach.

Ocean views from the road
Foliage filled path to Second Beach
Getting closer
Bam, Second Beach!
Forest right up to the beach
So many cool rocks on the beach! I’m your girl for showing off cool rocks
The Kalaloch Ranger Station is a stamp location, allegedly. The sign said “be back in 20!” and yet nobody ever came back. The next day the ranger at the Port Angeles Visitor Center told us that ranger station has not been staffed in months! We did succeed in finding the passport stamp for Kalaloch at the lodge.

After a detour back to Queets for gas, we continued onto the Hoh Rainforest, which is located in the interior of Olympic National Park. Receiving 140 inches of rain a year, this temperate rainforest is one of four found on the Olympic Peninsula. And I’m not even going to apologize… I took a TON of photos! I’m from a high altitude desert essentially, so a rainforest, even a temperate one, is so foreign to me I was eating up all the green and the moss!

I will admit, I hate slugs (and anything worm like), but this was pretty fascinating! I’m happy I never saw one. Yuck.
The Hall of Mosses Trail is about 0.8 miles, and is a fantastic intro to this area!
I kicked myself for once again not having my toy dinosaurs along to photograph them here
Starting out with this lush little stream

And now for a gazillion photos of the Hall of Mosses

Shaggy trees!

I wish I had something better than my cell phone here!
Great little tree arch

Talk about sensory overload with all the green! Despite the light rain, it was a great little visit and teaser to what Hoh Rainforest has to offer. It is obvious why UNESCO has designed the Hoh Rainforest a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve.

Delicious BBQ from D&K BBQ in Forks

The final adventure before setting up camp for the night would be the hike out to Hole in the Wall on Rialto Beach for sunset. Bellies full of delicious BBQ, we set out on the roughly 1.5 mile trip out to Hole in the Wall. Which is literally just a big hole in a rock wall on the beach. There is no established trail, you just head north from the parking lot. The tide was out when we headed out, which is something important to pay attention to (now that is something I’m bad at… tide charts.)

Beginning our beach hike. Luckily the sand was pretty firmed up so it was not too much of a slog. Thanks to wearing Chacos it was also easy to cross Ellen Creek
I’m forever a lover of rocky, moody beaches!
Looking back south
After 1.5 miles with reached Hole in the Wall, which was crawling with people
We walked around to the “backside,” which was also still crawling with people. And lots of slimy seaweed. Yuck.
Finally I could nab a photo without humans!
Tide pools are another wonderous thing to me since we do not have them in Wyoming.
Here’s me hoping nothing slimy gets in my Chacos
The sun began setting as we headed back to the truck
Weathered rocks
Split Rock
I could not help myself!
This weathered rock kind of looks like a walrus with shaggy hair me thinks
Darkness creeping up as we headed south.

Darkness came fast after we got back to the truck. Initially we planned on trying to make it up to Cape Flattery to see the northwesterly point of the Lower 48, but it was a long haul so we decided to stay closer to Highway 101. It was another night of arriving in camp after dark, but would we expect any different by now?!

(Part 2 is coming up which will wrap up the rest of my week and a half in Washington!)

3 thoughts on “Whirlwind Washington – Part 1: Quinault Big Sitka, Hoh Rainforest, and Rialto Beach”

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