It's hard to imagine that one park can encompass such geographical diversity. But that's what attracts visitors to Olympic National Park in Washington state. In addition to its national park status, this million-acre park has been designated as both a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve.
After spending several days in the mountainous regions of the park, we headed out to explore old-growth rainforests.
|Fall colors just beginning to show in Olympic National Park|
From the Hoh River in Olympic National Park, we headed to Kalaloch Lodge on the Washington state coast, where we would spend a couple of nights in order to explore more waterfalls and scenery in the Hoh Rain Forest section of the park.
|Hoh Rain Forest is one of three ecological regions of |
Olympic National Park.
|The greenness is simply incredible.|
|Thick ferns along the path|
Everywhere we see the cycle of nature: growth, death, replenishing. Fallen trees provide food for the next generation of plants and for forest critters that chew on decaying wood.Our hiking goal was the waterfall on Hoh River Trail. Surprisingly, few folks walking on the trail seemed to know about it, but after more than two hours we found the waterfall. At the water’s edge, I splashed my hands to check the temperature—it was quite cool for early September.
|The elusive waterfall|
The weather was damp, with rain drops dripping from tree branches long after actual rain had stopped. We took our time to enjoy and photograph the immense variety of flora, including 24 species of plants found nowhere else in the world. The path was not too difficult, just long and messy with enough diversions to slow our pace.On the return we stopped just off the trail, found “natural” seats (fallen tree trunks) and scarfed down our packed lunches. As for wildlife, we only saw one elk in the woods, although surely there were more staying out of sight.
|I perched on a tree trunk to eat my sandwich.|
After leaving the rain forest and heading down the Washington coast later that day, we stopped at Ruby Beach, so-called because tiny bits of garnet crystals in the sand give it a rosy glow in sunlight. At this scenic beach just off U.S. 101, the shore broadened into a wide expanse of glistening sand as the afternoon tide retreated from the rugged coastline.
|Amazing sea stacks at Ruby Beach|
|Beautiful reflections in the outgoing tide|
Back at Kalaloch Lodge cute bunny rabbits scampering around the backyard of our cabin made us chuckle. The beach just below the cliff on which the cabin was perched invited us to take a stroll.
|Glorious sunset at Kalaloch Beach|
Sea breezes and the setting sun created lovely striations of pink, yellow, and blue in the sky above the water—the perfect ending to another day of discovery.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier