Tag Archives: Olympic National Park

The Seashore of Olympic National Park

The Coast

Often a national park will have multiple ecosystems to explore allowing for a more diverse experience. Olympic National Park definitely fits into this concept with three different systems – mountains, forests, and a coastal ecosystem. It’s always interesting to find freshwater environments near the coast so you can contrast and compare them. A small distance apart can make a tremendous difference in the wildlife that visit each and in some cases both types of water. Gulls, eagles, and bears will visit both freshwater and saltwater in search of food while salmon will only enter freshwater during spawning season and ducks and deer remain near the freshwater. Pelicans will primarily stay near saltwater along with so many other sea creatures (urchins, sea stars, ect…).

Sandy Beach Littered with Logs

Those of us that don’t live near saltwater are not use to seeing the diversity of both these ecosystems and how similar they are as well as how different they are. After visiting the interior of the Olympic Peninsula for a couple of days it was time to venture to the coast and enjoy another environment. Two things on our list of things to see here were the sea stacks which are basically large boulder or small islands of rock out in the ocean not far from land and tide pools containing urchins, anemones, and other sea creatures caught during low tide.

Dungeness Crab

We started out at Beach 1 near the Kalaloch Lodge to start our coastal adventure. After a short hike down to the beach you notice it is full of logs piled everywhere and Dungeness Crabs laying all over the beach being picked at by gulls. Being there in late August may provide a different encounter with the crabs as I’m sure they don’t litter the beach here year around. Working to get over the logs you land on the soft sand often desired with a beautiful beach. Unfortunately, there where no sea stacks and no tide pools to peer into. After a little more exploring, it was time to find our next meal and another vantage point to explore the ocean coast.

The View from the Lodge

Since we were near the Kalaloch Lodge, and there aren’t a lot of dining options in this area, we opted to eat there and enjoy a great view of Kalaloch Creek entering the ocean. We enjoyed our meal and then a quick hike down to the ocean for another touch of the soft sand before venturing off towards Ruby Beach. This beach was recommended as the best location to see the sea stacks closest to us. There are better beaches for this which also offer nice tide pools but they were several hours away and our day was dwindling as it was.

Rocky Shores of Ruby Beach

Getting out of the car at Ruby Beach you can’t see the ocean but there is definitely a strange sound. Another short hike to get to the water and now this sound makes more sense. There is no sand here, just small, smooth, flat rocks making a unique sound as the water washes onto them. Finally a view of sea stacks. I’m sure they are more impressive on sunny evenings as the sun wanes behind them but this day was cloudy with heavy mist all around us. Still they were fun to see. Due to our timing, the tide pools would not be visible as it was near high tide. That was a little disappointing as pictures we’ve looked at provide a lot of colorful creatures. To see a post by Lee Rentz displaying some beautiful photos of the tide pools click here.

Sea Stacks

After enjoying this stone beach for awhile, rain moved in making the decision to call it a day and head back to the hotel pretty easy. Three days of exploring this national park left me exhausted so an early night at the hotel was just right in order to recoup before returning to Seattle for another long day’s adventure.

Another Form of Sea Stacks


Salmon Cascades in Olympic National Park

Earlier this year I wrote about Chasing Waterfalls in my attempt at improving my photographs. You can read about that here…. While that portion of the photography experiment didn’t turn out very well, it did give me practice for this next opportunity at capturing waterfalls.

The Pacific Northwest is very scenic with a number of beautiful landscapes to enjoy. The combination of mountains and precipitation create stunning views. Of course finding a day without rain or snow to get out and explore these views is a little more challenging. Fortunately for our trip, there was very little rain allowing us to get out and see some amazing waterfalls. The photographs show this all for themselves so I’ll concentrate on showing them.

Madison Falls by the Elwha River

This waterfall is a very short hike from the nearest parking area by the Elwha River in Olympic National Park and is definitely worth taking time to see.

Even Driving There are Several Waterfalls Next to the Road

While stopped at a pull out near Crescent Lake to take in the view, this waterfall was right behind us.

Crescent Lake

The view we stopped to take in when we saw the waterfall next to the road.

Sol Duc Falls

This waterfall is a bit more of a hike but again was worth the time to explore.

Canyon Carved Out by the Sol Duc River

A beautiful canyon covered in mosses and plants carved by the Sol Duc River.

Making the Most of 1 Day

An Early Start to the Day

Do you ever have a day that starts early and is jam packed with fun things to do all day and ends late? They don’t come around very often it seems but when they do you can look back on it and know you made the most of each hour given to you on that day. That’s how our day going out to Washington was. We knew it was going to be a full day but not quite sure how long.

Arriving in Seattle

Our morning began at 3 AM which was just a few minutes before the alarm would be blaring at us to wake up. Instead of waiting to be assaulted by a noisy little box we got up, turned it off and began the days journey excited for the adventure ahead. Less than an hour later the car was packed and headed to join a few family members on our way to the airport. By 6 AM more family members met us at the airport and we were grabbing a quick breakfast while waiting to board the airplane taking us to Seattle, where this vacation would begin. Shortly after 10 AM beautiful mountain vistas began appearing outside of the airplane windows and before we knew it the popular Mt. Rainier was below us with Seattle just ahead.

Puget Sound

Quickly disembarking, well as quickly as several hundred people can get off an airplane, it was off to get luggage and take the light rail downtown where the cars were. Once everybody was safely secured in their respective automobiles it was already time for lunch. Wow this day seems to be moving quickly! With lunch in the rear view mirror it was off to Sequim to spend the night just outside of Olympic National Park. The route took us into Tacoma and around Puget Sound before heading towards Sequim. It took about three hours to drive from Seattle to Sequim getting us there just after 6 PM.

A Beautiful Spot to Eat and Relax

At this point much of the group just wanted to get dinner and relax from a long day of travels. Admittedly I was tired but adrenaline pushed a small contingent to begin exploring Olympic National Park. A few minutes to grab the camera and a bottle of water before settling back into the car for a 45 minute drive to the nearest visitor center while grabbing a bite to eat on the run. We arrived at the visitor center just as they were closing but decided to finish our meal on one of the nearby picnic tables and enjoy the evening and the surroundings before heading up the mountain the Hurricane Ridge.

A Doe and Her Fawn

As soon as the car doors opened at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center a fawn and mother black tailed deer were there to great us. Most likely looking for scraps from the numerous visitors there early that day. Seeing wildlife really enhances a visit to any national park making the experience feel more fulfilling. The evening was upon us and the sun was heading for the horizon so any exploring needed to be completed soon. Hiking a nearby trail, a spot was found to gaze into the horizon as the sun marched towards it, spreading it’s amazing colors throughout the sky. I couldn’t think of a better place to be during the remaining few hours of this day.

A Mountain Top Sunset

Darkness continued to creep closer and closer to us but not to worry. First of all, we were fairly close to the car and secondly we had flashlights this time, not like in Acadia National Park. Having been practicing night photography I thought this would be a great opportunity to capture a gorgeous night sky so off to a nearby picnic area to setup the camera before it was too dark. Just as the stars were beginning to peek out a bright light appeared on the horizon. It must have been a full moon. The mountainous landscape lit up all around us. Well, photos full of stars and possibly the Milky Way were out of the question. Obviously I did not do my homework on the timing and phases of the moon this night. What do you do when handed lemons? Take pictures of the moonscapes I guess.

Colors of the Setting Sun Spreading Across the Landscape

Spending the next hour taking photos it was time to call it a day. While the camera was shooting away at the night sky I realized a day like this when you take advantage of every minute of breath makes many other days mundane by comparison. The question of how to take advantage of every breath most days arises instead of falling victim to the daily routine we get so use to that we almost lose the appreciation of the day. Arriving back at the hotel it was after 1 AM – 22 hours after the day began. With a smile I quickly drifted off to sleep excited to continue our adventure the next day.

Late Night Moonscape


Life Experience Gained: Mountain landscapes from an airplane, The Seattle landscape, lightrail, downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, Olympic National Park, and most importantly the first time I conscientiously realized how much I enjoyed  this day and all we did.