We combine great hikes, good people, the best accommodations in the area and lots of laughs with an examination of what natural silence is, why it’s important, and what it feels like to engage with it. Olympic National Park is considered one of the last bastions of natural silence in the U.S.A. and the quietest place in North America. You’ll follow in the footsteps of Roosevelt elk and black tail deer, discover tumbling waterfalls that feed into the crystalline Hoh River, explore wild beaches at low-tide, sample up to a dozen types of wild berries and decompress under canopies of moss-draped big leaf maples spreading out overhead. Get outside, slow down, tune in, and enjoy this magical place with us.
The flow of the tour has been carefully crafted to maximize your time outside and provide quality access to as many of the highlights the National Park has to offer as possible. Each of the lodgings has accessible walks and trails nearby, providing opportunities for self-exploration. We’ll be walking, exploring and learning together each day as well – tailoring the distances and timing to you as we circumnavigate the Park. We aim to minimize transfer and vehicle time, but the Olympic National Park is massive and remote that some vehicle time is required each day. All of the hikes can accommodate a wide range of ability levels and interests.
Day 1: Quinault Rainforest and Kalaloch Beach
Lake Quinault. Giant Trees. Wild berries. Kalaloch Lodge. Ruby Beach.
To the Northwest Coast natives, Quinault means “river with a lake in the middle.” It is the name of the land and lake as well as the tribe who lived there. The Quinault River basin famously holds six different species of record-sized trees. While it is a bit of a drive from Seattle this morning, don’t worry; once we reach the lake you will be in the Big Trees before you can get out of the van! Walk a trail along the lake to see some of the largest western red cedar, Sitka spruce, western hemlock and Douglas fir trees on the planet. Learn about the largest remaining temperate rainforest in the U.S. while you sample up to a dozen types of wild berries – YUM! After the lake, we head to the beach. In the language of the local natives, Kalaloch means “a good place to land.” We think you will agree! In sharp contrast to the soaring inland forests, the coastal beaches are lined with forbidding-looking tangles of gnarled spruce and wind-whipped shore pines. There is even a “burl forest!” Keep an eye out for scurrying shore birds, surf-riding scoters and soaring bald eagles as we wander across fine sands. Photograph the famous Tree of Life as we head toward the tide pools and rocky headlands of Brown’s Point. In the evening, the garnet-tinged sands and offshore haystacks of Ruby Beach form a perfect sunset backdrop. Spend the night along the ocean at Kalaloch National Park Lodge.
Walking Distances: 5 miles (or more), mostly flat
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Day 2: The Hoh Rainforest
Ancient Trees and Mosses. Otherworldly Silence. The Hoh River.
Truly, one of the “bucket-list” destinations in the Park, step into an ancient time when our presence in the forest was guided by a need to hear but not be heard. Cited as being one of the quietest places on earth, today we hike into the most famous rainforest in the Park. Hoh means “whitewater,” an apt description for this boulder-strewn, braided ribbon of a river formed from the glaciers on Mt Olympus. Begin at the Visitor’s Center on the Hall of Mosses Nature Trail and continue up the Hoh River Trail for lunch by the river. With any luck, we will track down an elk herd along the way, but regardless: colonnades of spruce stretch toward the sky high above the canopy, big leaf maples spread out over green meadows, and lichens and mosses run wall to wall and floor to ceiling. In this silent forest, there is more biomass per acre than anywhere else on the planet. Inevitably, you will run out of adjectives for “green”! From the Hoh, we continue around the peninsula to Port Angeles on the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Enjoy more water views from your room at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles, and celebrate a fabulous trip with some of the Northwest’s finest “tavern-chic” cuisine!
– Hall of Mosses and Hoh Rainforest Trail: up to 10, 300ft gain, 800-1000ft elev.
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Day 3: Hurricane Ridge
Wildflowers. Olympic Marmots. Mountain Vistas. Ferry-ride.
Today we celebrate our last day with an ascent to the literal high-point of the tour – Hurricane Ridge. This land is truly shaped by wind – gusting to over 70 mph, with snows 30-35 feet deep. We climb up through alpine meadows and tree islands, dodging black-tailed deer, mountain goats and Olympic marmots (an endemic species of giant ground squirrel) until we reach Hurricane Hill. There we are met by sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains to the south and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island to the north. Following our trip into the high-country, our return to Seattle concludes with another spectacular ferry ride through the Puget Sound archipelago.
Walking Distance: 5 miles, 700ft, 5100-5800ft elev.
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Olympic National Park Tour Details
- Tour Highlights
- Is This Tour for Me?
- Tour Inclusions
- Accommodations & Food
- Customizations for Your Family or Group
- Additional Information
- Tour Preparation
Enjoy a stay at a Kalaloch Lodge – some of the finest lodging the Olympic Peninsula has to offer.
Admire sunset and sunrise views from waterfront rooms at the Red Lion in Port Angeles.
Explore the diversity of the Park in just three days: one in the rainforest, one on the beaches and one in the mountains.
Naturalist guides connect you to the story behind the scenery!
- If you want to do more than just hike and see the sights, our naturalist guides will help you connect with the story behind the natural wonders of this diverse region.
- This tour is suitable for all hiking abilities.
- Naturalist tour leader
- National Park entry fees.
- Overnight accommodations – all included
- We will pack our trail lunches from fresh, local, organic (where possible) ingredients.
- Full breakfasts – all included
- Full dinners – including appetizers. (Alcohol at restaurants is not provided.)
- Ferry fees and transportation.
- Snacks, water, sparkling water, local wine, local beer, etc.
Kalaloch Lodge is the premiere accommodation for this tour due to its location and amenities, but there are several slightly more economical options as well.
All breakfasts and dinners are at our accommodations.
We are happy to tailor the tour to suit your desires and budget! See “CUSTOMIZATIONS” (below) for other ideas and options for your group.
While the infrequency of accommodations and restaurants on the Olympic Peninsula does reduce the number of available options, we offer the following ideas for creating a different experience or more economic tour for your group. We are happy to discuss these and other possibilities with you!:
Substantially cheaper, but very basic, accommodations can be found in Forks, WA (at the same hotels the fishermen frequent). There are casual dining options within walking distance from most. Forks is about a 20-min. drive from the coast and 45-min. from the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center.
You may choose to pay for breakfasts and dinners on your own.
The hikes are easily customized (shortened or extended) to meet the desires or abilities of your group.
We do not recommend an overnight (2-day) tour due the travel time required getting to and from the Peninsula from Seattle.
Climate / Weather / Season:
- Inevitably, there are questions about the weather. It is a rainforest after all. The good news is, while up to fourteen feet of precipitation falls here every year, the area averages less than four inches per month during the summer. July and August are the driest months, followed by June and September.
- The tour can be run virtually any time of the year, but winter months are not recommended as the daylight hours are quite short (+/- 8 hrs) and the rain can be … daunting!
- If tide-pooling is on your list of highlights, the best times of the year for low tides during daylight hours usually fall between May and early August. Call for information on specific dates.
National Parks and Monuments: Olympic National Park
Suggested Reading List: Olympic National Park: A Natural History by Tim McNulty (2009) Roadside Guide to the Olympic Peninsula by Christopher Chapman (2014) Ancient Forests of the Pacific Northwest by Elliott A. Norse (1990) The Final Forest by William Dietrich (1992) Cascade-Olympic Natural History: A Trailside Reference by Daniel Mathews (1988)
Below is a suggested list of items that you may want to bring on your upcoming hiking tour. When packing, remember that the weather can offer surprises, especially in the mountains. Plan to dress in layers and carry extra clothing every day for lunch and rest stops.
- ❑ Hiking pants or convertible pants
- ❑ Casual clothes—jeans, shorts, sport shirts
- ❑ Dinner clothes—nice casual attire is fine
- ❑ Hiking boots suitable for rocky trails
- ❑ Casual shoes
- ❑ Hiking socks (no cotton) and casual socks
- ❑ Sweater or light jacket
- ❑ Waterproof jacket
- ❑ Underwear
- ❑ Bathing suit for hot tubs and spas
- ❑ Binoculars
- ❑ Camera, extra batteries, charger, and memory cards; dry bag (optional)
- ❑ Daypack with hydration system
- ❑ Driver’s license
- ❑ National Parks or Federal Recreation Lands Pass (optional; bring it if you have one)
- ❑ Reading material
- ❑ Sunscreen
- ❑ Ball cap for sun protection
- ❑ Sunglasses – dark enough for snow and bright sun
- ❑ Insect repellant of choice
- ❑ Toiletries and blister kit
- ❑ Vitamins and / or prescription drugs
- ❑ Extra set of glasses or contacts
- ❑ Small headlamp or flashlight
- ❑ Trekking poles (collapsible)
- ❑ A spirit of adventure
Additional Items for Cooler Seasons and High Elevations
- ❑ Baselayer shirts and tights