Thursday, March 09, 2006

Big Ed's guide to the Olympic Penninsula

"Ah, Olympic National Park." It is one of the last untouched places in the United States. If you are into natural beauty, pristine forests, and backcountry hiking, you really should check it out. However, it's also HUGE. Let me give break it down for you.

1) The least driving/most bang for the buck tour:
This is a good one if you have kids or want an easy day of it. Use this guide to head to Port Angeles and then head to the main enterance of the park. Hurricane Ridge is well marked and easy to find. You'll have great views and hiking options. Ask them how to get to the nearby hotsprings while you're there. It is about a 90 minute drive from Bremerton/Port Orchard to the Northern entrance to the park (a little over two hours from Seattle-Take the Bainbridge Island Ferry). Use the park service web site for directions and detailed advice. It's a great site.

2) You have some time and want to see some serious rainforest moss:
Most of the precipitation (around 140 inches/year) comes down on the west
side of the park. It's a pretty healthy drive from the Seattle area (about 3-4 hours) as you have to drive completely around the park to get there. However, it's one magical place to experience. I'd recommend heading for Lake Quinalt or The Hoh Rain Forest. Both are amazing! If you'd like to stay overnight The Lake Quinalt Lodge is very nice. There are also many camping options in the area. Most of the hikes have great markers and information about the trees and wildlife. If you have the time, it's great. My wife and I camped there two years ago and it was one of the highlights of our two week trek. It's pretty secluded out there. Bring a cooler with all your favorites. Not a lot of dining options out here.

I've been scanning for the best sites for summarizing Olympic National Park and I think Winkipedia does it best. Check it out.

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