Victoria Day long weekend and my dad's birthday was coming up, and weather in the Pacific Northwest looked to be improving (could it finally be spring?!) so it was high time for a road trip and escape!
After researching and discussing, my family (my parents and me #onlychildproblems) and I decided on Olympic National Park over Tofino. Tofino seems to be a destination that requires at least 4 days to truly soak in the laidback surf island vibe. We were very excited to learn that Olympic National Park is huge, encompassing over a million acres, and diverse, consisting of rainforests, mountain ridges, lakes, beaches, hot springs and waterfalls. I hope this roadtrip post helps you to plan a great getaway to this National Park, and introduces you to the diversity of its ecosystems. I would definitely recommend visiting it over the course of 3 days, which would enable ample time to explore the Pacific Northwest region.
DAY #1: HURRICANE RIDGE & LAKE CRESCENT
The trip from Vancouver to Sequim, where we booked our hotels for the 2 nights of our stay, took slightly over 4 hours. We drove to Edmonds ferry terminal in Washington and took the ferry to Kingston, and drove from Kingston to Sequim. Sequim is actually not very near Olympic National Park, but most accommodation was already fully booked. Definitely recommend booking lodging as early as possible.
For a quick bite before the ferry ride, we stopped at Evviva Pizza in a strip mall right across the Edmonds ferry terminal. They prepared the pizza in an authentic wood-fired oven in around 3 minutes!
The special - fresh Pears, aged & fresh mozzarella, gorgonzola, pancetta, evoo, & parmigiano was quite impressive and one of the better pizzas I have had. I enjoyed the thin crispy crust and that wood-fired taste that just made it more authentic.
The ferry ride only lasted for 30 minutes and it was nice to walk around on the sun deck taking in the sights and breeze after being cooped up in the hour for the rest of the day.
Hurricane Ridge [rating: 4.5/5]
We decided to head up to Hurricane Ridge. This was my favorite destination of the Olympic Park attractions we visited - we saw incredibly beautiful vistas on the drive to the top with nice lookouts on the winding road.
I felt like I was floating among the clouds and snow - it was really surreal and gorgeous. I heard that the fields are blooming with wildflowers in the summer - the view would be different but amazing.
I even left my mark at the side of the ridge.
Lake Crescent [rating: 4/5]
Lake Crescent is a spectacular crystal-clear lake framed by clouds and the mountains. The curvy route that lines the lake has several viewpoints, so you can view the lake from various perspectives. The best view of the lake would probably be right at Lake Crescent Lodge. This was a super popular accommodation and was fully booked when we visited.
It was fun pretending that I had went on a boat trip on the lake. It would have been perfect to glide along the periphery of the lake, but we did not have enough time.
I just relaxed by the dock and gazed at the calm waters.
As it was getting dark, we headed over to Alder Wood Bistro where we had made reservations. It received a high rating on Trip Advisor, and wood-fired sustainably harvested organic Pacific Northwest cuisine was right up our alley. As it was my dad's birthday, we decided to splurge and enjoy the flavors of their dishes.
I enjoyed the Nettle Gnocchi - local nettle & Dungeness Valley Creamery gluten-free ricotta gnocchi, morel mushrooms, ember, roasted Nash’s leeks, creamy nettle pesto sauce, whey, Nash’s market greens, and Pecorino Romano. I was impressed with how fresh and tasty the vegetables were. It was definitely a unique dish!
My dad enjoyed the wood-fired saffron seafood pasta. My mom commented that she loved the mussels even though she is not usually a fan of mussels.
For fans of duck, the pan-seared duck was presented deliciously with cherry gastrique and buttermilk mashed potatoes.
The highlight of the dinner was the fabulous organic shaker lemon pie - rustic meyer lemon pie with butter crust and whipped cream. The lemon filling was incredibly fresh and fruity, apparently an entire lemon was used to make it.
After a satisfying dinner, we headed to Econo Lodge Sequim for an early night's sleep before another day of adventures.
Day #2: KALALOCH BEACH, RUBY BEACH, HOH RAINFOREST, SOL DUC FALLS
Kalaloch Beach [rating: 3/5]
We drove all the way to Kalaloch Lodge. I found Kalaloch Beach to be all right, it was rather misty so this was the view we saw.
We had lunch at Kalaloch Lodge, and the food was decent. The waiter was really friendly and recommended Ruby Beach.
Ruby Beach [rating: 3.5/5]
Ruby Beach is not your typical beach - it is a beautifully rugged beach with wood everywhere and smooth black ocean pebbles. It is famous for seastacks which are perfect nesting grounds for sea birds. There also numerous tidepools, but it was high tide when we went, so we couldn't appreciate them.
The seastacks on the beach added character and variation to the beach. Loved this seastack which was literally a hole in the wall.
Hoh Rainforest [rating: 3/5]
Hoh Rainforest is one of the hugest attractions in Olympic National Park, but I felt it was overrated. I may be spoilt by the countless forests in beautiful British Columbia, but besides some unique sights like the abundance of moss due to the high amount of rainfall the rainforest gets, and salmonberries, there wasn't anything that stood out for me about the rainforest. If you don't live in area with many forests, it will be a novel experience for you. In any case, enjoy the quiet and fresh forest air.
I ticked 2 more hikes off my bucket list - by completing the easy 0.8 miles Hall of Mosses Trail and 1.1 miles Spruce Nature Trail.
There is no wifi in the rainforest, but I promise you'll find a better connection.
This tree root was humongous and it was pretty amazing to see how this root supported an even more gigantic tree. The trees can grow to such a huge size due to high amounts of rainfall.
The Spruce Nature trail ended by the river banks of the Hoh River, which was a peaceful spot. I definitely had Disney nostalgia as the song "Just around the River Bend" played in my mind. Woohoo!!
Sol Duc Falls [rating: 3/5]
The last attraction we hit up was Sol Duc Falls. We took the 0.8 mile trail to this waterfall. What was unique about it was that it looked like 3 conjoined waterfalls.
Another recommendation if you are in the Sequin area are these delicious cupcakes from That Takes the Cake. I enjoyed the champagne cupcake with raspberry filling. Perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.
All in all, this was a great trip to escape to dynamic landscapes. Even though some of the attractions were just average, highlights like Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent and Ruby Beach made the trip worthwhile. It isn't everyday you get to see different sorts of places in one national park, and Olympic National Park is one of the more popular ones in Washington, USA. Feel free to leave comments, ask away about Olympic National Park or share stories of your travel adventures!