The Hoh Rain Forest & Pacific Coast

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After looking at this weekend’s rainy forecast, I decided that if you can’t beat the rain, you might as well embrace it! On Sunday (12/6), I decide to face the elements and explore the Hoh Rain Forest and nearby Pacific Coast locations. I got an early start from Port Angeles and arrived at the Hoh Rain Forest at 7:30am. This weekend’s windstorm scattered debris along the Upper Hoh Road to Visitor Center making the drive seem like I was Han Solo navigating the Millennium Falcon in the asteroid field – last Star Wars reference, I promise (but appropriate timing).

Thankfully, the park remained open and I was the first to arrive at the Visitor Center. The atmosphere was surreal. Never have I felt the Hoh Rain Forest feel so alive. Hearing the raindrops splash on ferns, watching the morning fog ascend into the low-lying overcast clouds, and those mossy evergreen trees were fully quenched and as lush as ever. Better yet, I got to experience this venue in complete solidarity—that is, until I accidently walked into the Roosevelt Elk Herd on the trail.

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Around 10:30am, I finished my explorations in the Hoh Rain Forest and drove back onto Highway 101 south, setting course to Ruby Beach, which is a 17-minute drive further south from the Hoh turnoff. Ruby Beach is the textbook definition of a scenic route turnoff—emphasis on scenic. A short nature trail staircase leads you to the beach, the roaring Pacific Ocean wave break, and the well-known Ruby Beach sea stacks. It was incredible to watch the waves crash into the shoreline with those powerful winter winds that day.

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Just 10 minutes further south along Highway 101 is the Kalaloch Campgrounds and Kalaloch Lodge. After exploring the cabins and beachfront at the Kalaloch Lodge, I enjoyed a great lunch at the lodge’s restaurant and watched the windy Pacific Coast waves crash from my table. 

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Before heading home, I stopped at the Kalaloch Campground to visit the campground’s famous tree cave. I’m not sure if this is usual, but the recent heavy rains created a miniature waterfall behind the tree, making the tree cave that much more of an impressive spectacle.

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Overall, I really enjoyed the adventure. In just a quick day trip (returning home by 3:00pm), I was able to conquer three popular Olympic Peninsula bucket list items: The Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach, and Kalaloch. In case you’re interested in doing a similar trip, here is my approximate timeline:

  • 7:30am – 10:30am: Hoh Rain Forest
  • 10:30am – 11:15am: Drive to Ruby Beach
  • 11:15am – 11:45am: Ruby Beach
  • 11:45am – 12:00pm: Drive to Kalaloch
  • 12:00pm – 1:30pm: Beach exploring and lunch at Kalaloch Lodge

Happy Adventures!