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.
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.
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.
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.
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