Right when those leaves were turning the perfect blend of red and gold, the “storm of the century” decided to roll through the Pacific Northwest, shortening our fall season. Though the winds and rain were not as severe as originally anticipated, the storm still hit the fast forward button for our deciduous trees’ useful life for its autumn leaves.
Don’t let our quick autumn season come and go without taking time to admire the breathtaking fall colors we have here in the Pacific Northwest. Consider taking this Fall Color Farewell Tour on a scenic, enjoyable autumn daytrip in Olympic National Park.
1) The Elwha Valley
As you head west on Highway 101, take a quick five minute side-trip on Olympic Hot Springs Road and enjoy breathtaking scenery along the Elwha River. The road is closed beyond the Madison Falls trailhead, however, at that parking lot you have an incredible sweeping view of the Elwha River, Olympic Mountains, and can take the quick paved trail (0.1 miles) to Madison Falls.
2) The Lake Crescent Lodge
The Lake Crescent Lodge is the perfect stop during the autumn season because it is enjoyable rain or shine! If it is a blustery fall day, enjoy the warm, cozy, rustic interior of the Lake Crescent Lodge complete with a fireplace and views of the Lake. Consider timing this stop during lunch hour and grab a bite to eat at the restaurant.
And best of all, if the conditions are good, enjoy one of the best waterfront views of Lake Crescent available in the park.
3) The Sol Duc Valley
The final stop on this fall color roadtrip ends at the Sol Duc Valley, where depending on your time, there are a variety of outdoor activities to choose from!
Option 1: Hike to Sol Duc Falls - 1.6 miles roundtrip
After the last week of that heavy stormy rain, the Sol Duc River is raging! Now is the perfect time to see Sol Duc Falls in full force. The hike is only 1.6 miles roundtrip and is incredibly scenic as you descend into the Sol Duc River valley hiking through towering old growth forest and cross several nature bridges.
Option 2: Ancient Groves Nature Trail - 0.5 mile nature loop
If you are on a time crunch and need to save some driving and hiking time or if you simply want to add some more beautiful scenery to your itinerary, pull off along the Sol Duc Road for the Ancient Groves Nature Trail turnout. The picturesque half-mile nature loop gives you a sneak peek experience of a rain forest without the considerable drive south to the Hoh Rain Forest (which is worth it for another trip).
Tip for next season: The Salmon Cascades at the Sol Duc River
The Salmon Cascades is one of the incredible spectacles of nature and wildlife you can observe in Olympic National Park. Unfortunately, the recent storm and rain has the Sol Duc River currents too strong to see Salmon jumping over the small falls, but it is still amazing to get up close to the raging river. Nevertheless, make sure to see the river before the heavy autumn rains next year so you can see this!
One of the best parts about this autumn Olympic National Park roadtrip? You’ll experience breathtaking fall beauty throughout the entire trip, even along the drive!
The Fall Farewell Tour Driving Directions