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where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

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Houston, Texas
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where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

Hi Everyone,

I'm from Texas and will be visiting Seattle for the first time, Excited!!

i will be there around the 2nd week of Sept. one of my goals for this trip is to go camping in the scenery that WA has to offer. I've been reading through other forum posts and decided ONP is probably a good choice to visit and still be close to the Seattle area.

my question is, since i am not familiar with this area, i plan on renting a car. but where are the best places to Hike, sight see, camp and just really get the Seattle outdoor experience in ONP or if you know of any other places closer to Seattle I'm open to suggestions. i will be traveling with one other person, and more than likely travel with a tent. i would really like to see the NW coast if possible, and see the low tides I've read about on other posts.

Thanks in advanced!!

Poulsbo, Washington
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1. Re: where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

The way I see it you have two options for Olympic National Park. One is to drive South and then West to Lake Quinault. This is roughly a 2.5 hour drive or more depending on traffic. Lake Quinault is surrounded by the beautiful Quinault Rainforest. From there you can drive about a half hour North to beautiful Ruby Beach. You can camp at Lake Quinault

Option two is to take the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island and head for Forks on the Westside of the Park. Here you have the Hoh Rainforest and Second and Rialto Beach. You could either camp near the Ocean at Mora campground and or the Hoh Campground. Minus the ferry time you are talking about a three hour drive. here is the problem with only two days in Olympic if you are camping and want to go to the Ocean. You really do not have time to also get into the Olympic Mountains! With three days you could. comming from Texas that would be a real shame.

With two days you could do this at Mt. Rainier. I am assuming you are a camper and know all of the things you are going to need. Stove, sleeping bag etc.. Some things can be rented here, but that takes additional time and planning. Renting things like a stove you have never used before can be a hassle. Also September can be a great month weather wise, but it can also be wet. So you have to have the proper gear for that and cooler temps.

So think about this. I have camped in the Olympics for about 35 years. It is a fantastic experience, but hard to plan comming on an airplane. Staying in motels etc. is a lot easier to plan. Three days is still better IMO for visiting ONP, but it could be done in two days minus the camping.

Boulder, Colorado
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2. Re: where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

Here's a very helpful link to hiking trails in Olympic: protrails.com/areas/…olympic_national_park

Olympic is very big, and with 95% designated wilderness, there are virtually no roads through the park. This means that most drives take a long time, a factor when planning your trip.

Quinault Rainforest (Enchanted Valley) is a must do, even if you don't go all the way. The Hoh, in my opinion (gasp!) is overrated, but easier to access. The coast is magnificent - I'd recommend Second Beach and Rialto Beach. Toleak Point is a more ambitious coastal hike, but worth the effort. Grand Lake is an exceptional alpine destination.

Poulsbo, Washington
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3. Re: where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

First off you will get very very few people who will agree that the Hoh Rainforest is overrated. Yes I will question that one. Dave how many times have you visited and how many seasons and conditions have you experienced. More life per square inch than any place on earth! Featured in National Geographic I can not count the times! World Heritage Site. Of course you are welcome to your opinion, but for those planning on visiting I am not sure what you were looking at. I lived in Boulder before moving here, so I know the beauty that surrounds you. Anyway those of us that know this place ARE a little sensitive knowing why this place is so special and unique.

I would be happy to recommend hikes,mic you tell me what you are comfortable with. Distance and elevation gain. I never mention the Enchanted Valley unless a visitor is backpacking. It is not a day hike. I do agree the River Trail along the Quinault South Fork is wonderful. Again not knowing anything about what you are used to, the hike to Pony Bridge may satisfy you. On the Washington Trails Assoc. website, you can get descriptions of these hikes. Everyones hiking skills and comfort level is different. I have done many of them if you want feedback.

Edited: 12:09 pm, July 26, 2012
Houston, Texas
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4. Re: where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

First of all i'd like to thank both of you for all the helpful information.

i managed to scrape up a 3rd day at ONP, and planned to go around the 101 and stop by at a few locations you guys mention beginning with Quinault. as for hiking distance it is not a big factor; however elevation might play its toll on some one from Texas where its all flat lands (at least in houston). back in feb. i went to colorado for a first ski trip and quickly felt the altitude sickness kicking in and kind of put a damper on the rest of the trip. so i guess i would prefer something not too high. but i am up for the challenge as long as it promises spectacular views.

also what are good places to stay along 101? if i decide to do this road trips is it safe to sleep in a car, tent or just rent a motel. i would consider myself to be adventurous, ive slept in my share of airports, park benches, and train-stations. but i'll be traveling with my GF this time and was worried about safety. also are there plenty of Grocery/convenient stores along 101 to buy food?

Thanks again

Poulsbo, Washington
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5. Re: where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

The elevation is nothing like Co. So do not worry about that. The question becomes hiking steepness! I have slept in my car on occasion. Safe in my opinion yes, but I am not going to recommend it. You do not want to be on a logging road! In Sept. you should be able to find campsites. If you can plan your visit so you are not in the Olympics on a weekend. That will make it much easier to find a campsite. Not that you have three nights I would consider a different route. So you can concentrate more on one area skip Quinault. Concentrate on Port Angeles and Forks. This will give you an opportunity to see rainforest, wild coastline and the mountain

You could camp at Heart of the Hills, and spend a day at Hurricane Ridge. Hurricane Hill is the easiest with views of the Bailey Range and North to Canada. Then I would head for the campground in the Hoh Rainforest. Spend the day taking it in. The trail is mostly flat. You hike as far as you want and then retrace your steps back to the campground. You could stay there another night and visit the Second and Rialto Beach or camp at Mora Campground near Rialto. Forks is where you can buy supplies and food. This is a starting point.

Port Townsend...
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6. Re: where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

Contact ProTrails

Questions about a trail? Comments about a description?

Please email us at admin at protrails dot com

Founders: Dave Levy - Quandary Peak 14,265' and Dave Schwartz - Pawnee Peak 12,943'

Houston, Texas
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7. Re: where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

Thanks Glaciermeadows!

luckily we will be there during the weekdays. another question i had and you might know about is the Discovery Pass. Does this get you into any recreational area/park in ONP? i read about some other passes but you still have to pay some sort of day fee. will the Discovery Pass take care of everything?

Thanks.

Port Townsend...
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8. Re: where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

The Discovery Pass is for vehicle access to Washington State Parks and recreation lands only:

http://www.discoverpass.wa.gov/

It does not include National Park access or National Forest Service trailhead parking. You can get the America The Beautiful Pass for $80 that gives you access to federal parks and lands for a year.

9. Re: where to camp in ONP and what to see in two days

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