Olympic National Park – Exploring the High Side

Olympic National Park, located in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle, is a wonderland of diverse natural environments.  From snow-capped mountains  to alpine lakes to rugged Pacific beaches to temperate rain forests, there is something for everyone.   Although most of the park could be reached in an ambitious very long day of driving, a much better plan is to slow down and spend several days or even several weeks.

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We began our exploration in Port Angeles after taking the ferry from Victoria, British Columbia.   Our touring began in the mountainous eastern and northern sections of the park – – the “high” side.  Our first stop was Hurricane Ridge.  There are numerous hiking trails to match any ability.  One of our favorites was Hurricane Peak, where well-maintained trails ascend the hills, and great views are nearly continuous.  Go early or late in the day to avoid the inevitable crowds.

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Wildflowers were in bloom…

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On a clear day, you can see across the Straight of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver Island in Canada.

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Crystal-clear alpine lakes, such as Lake Crescent, offer a chance to slow down.  Or, if you still have the energy, there are many opportunities for water-based active recreation such as canoeing  or kayaking.  Swimming is limited to the truly hardy, as the water temperature is quite cold.  Lodging choices are limited.  We spent the night at Lake Crescent Lodge, which was conveniently located right on the lakeshore.   Due to high demand and limited space, planning ahead and making reservations well in advance is necessary.

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After a short hike to Marymere Falls,

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… it was time to slow down.  We settled easily into these lakeside chairs.  Not a bad spot to relax at the end of the day!

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As the shadows grow longer and the sun slips over the horizon, we leave you with this serene image.  In our next  post we will complete our visit of Olympic National Park.


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