Olympic National Park is roughly a 12 hour drive from Glacier National Park. Since we were trying to get to Las Vegas for 4th of July, we only had so many days left to explore a few more parks before heading that way. We got on the road early in the morning and tried to make it to the SW end of Olympic National Park where the Hoh Rainforest is located. The coolest part about this park is it really has everything from high mountain peaks, beaches, rain forest, and wild life. It’s one of the largest temperate rainforests in North America, and it get about 12-14 ft of precipiation per year! But, it is not an easy park to get around. You can’t drive directly though from one end to the other, you have to go all the way around. Hoh Rainforest being located on the west end of the park meant we had to drive all the way down to Olympia and then cut over to the coast on Highway 101. By the time we got into the area of the park it was dark. So, we aimed to get to a beach camping area and hope for an open spot at the first come first serve area! It was all first come first serve along the coastal area we were in, and we ended up lucking out finding a spot at Beach 2.
These camping areas are not listed on the National Park site, but can be confused with “Second Beach, Third Beach, and First Beach,” which are more North of the campsite we stayed. A camper had taken up two spots, so we set up our small tent right in front of him next to the second picnic bench. It was late enough that we figured nobody would wake up and be angry with us for taking a little bit of ground space.
We woke up in a soaking wet tent due to the moisture from the ocean. Mud & moisture were a real problem since it lightly misted all through the night and the entire time we were on the beach. We tried to lay all our camping gear out across the back of the 4runner to dry, but it stayed wet for quite a while. Beach 2 camp was about an hour drive into the Hoh Rainforest. It was frustrating to realize that there was no way we were going to see multiple areas of the park since we didn’t have a lot of time, and everything is such a long haul. So, we made the best of exploring the Hoh area and trails on that side of the park as well as stopping over at Ruby Beach.
Since the Hoh Rainforest is located inland, the sun was shining the entire day we were out there. But, as we headed towards Ruby Beach we were back under the blanket of mist and clouds. We were definitely stuck in the “June Gloom” out on the beaches.
We decided instead of soaking up the wet weather another night, we’d head south towards Crater National Park. It was an 8 hour drive to hop into Oregon and get to Crater Lake, but it’s one of the coolest parts of the drive because you pass so many different landscapes, volcanoes, and massive mountain ranges.