Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Camping in the West 1 – Olympic National Park

A unique experience which left us disturbed for almost a month after returning to Michigan, water seemed no more blue, trees no longer appeared green and life never was the same…just longing to go back. A two week car camping trip from Seattle to San Francisco in June-July 2010, covering Olympic National Park, WA, Crater Lake National Park, OR , Redwood National Park, CA and finally Mt Rainier National Park, WA with about a 1000 mile drive on pacific coast offered totally different and breath taking scenery each moment!

Some wise decisions we made:
- These duffel bags came really handy to fit in all our camping equipment. It was a lot of careful planning, shopping and packing because we had to fly to Seattle.
- Renting an SUV proved very convenient and the Radio NRI, a bollywood radio station to listen to for all 40 hr drive was such a nice addition 
- We did more of car camping this time: hiking and driving in the day, camp at night and set out early next morning with everything packed. No driving back and no cooking in the morning saved us a lot of time. Also it was fun to grill at the beaches in the noon and savor a hot lunch.

Day 1: Seattle- The place with which Rama and I fell in love at the first sight! Was it the glimpse of Mt Rainier over the Lake Washington or the greenery with the misty skies or was it our wonderful hosts…couldn’t figure out why We drove in downtown and roamed around the place- Art museum, Aquarium, Qwest field, Fish market, had a great Mediterranean lunch and in the evening bought some food/camping supplies like propane cylinders.

Day 2: The route to Olympic National Park from Seattle includes a vehicle cum passenger ferry from Edmonds to Kingston and then continue on Hwys 104/101 to Olympic National Park Visitor Center. These visitor centers offer a lot of valuable information and maps, so we always make sure to stop by. We were initially scared when checked in to Heart O’ the Hills campground, it was rustic, pretty much uncleared and had very few people with an option to choose a campsite unlike Smokies. We set up the tent fast and drove to Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in the mountains. On the way we got down to take pictures of dears and Oh My Gosh!..we stood still looking in distant.  The beauty was just beyond words, the snow mountains were shining under sun across a green backdrop. As we go further, the scenery got better and reached it's best at the Hurricane hill trail which took us to the hill top with colorful little wild flowers, lot of dears, beaver, mountain goat and other wild life.
Day 3:We drove on Hwy101 to Lake Crescent, which had crystal clear water and a hike to Marymere falls. By afternoon we reached Sol Duc hot springs, it was modern with a pool built and little crowded. We drove further to Rialto beach, which features Hole-in-the-Wall. A 2 mile trail on this Sandy/Pebble beach takes us to a mountain standing as a wall with a hole to get to the other side of the beach. This is where we first spotted star fish, mussels, sea anemone and other sea creatures. We watched sunset at the beach and stayed at Mora campground for the night.
Day 4-5: Next morning, it was drizzling and foggy as we walked around Second beach. The sea was far behind when we first went, so we were able to see lots of star fish and sea gulls everywhere eating crabs. We skipped first and third beaches and by afternoon, reached Forks, did some groceries for the rest of the trip and continued driving on Scenic Hwy 101.
Our next stop was Hoh Rain forest which has a campground and offer several trails to explore the rain forest. As expected it was lush green with mosses hung from the trees and no ground to be seen ever.

We stayed there for the night and continued driving next morning on 101 stopping by the Kalaloch beaches, lake Quinault and other lookouts. It was all day drive, listening to Radio NRI and witnessing a fire accident on the way, to reach a motel near to the Crater lake national park. Its time for hot shower!


  1. Looks like you had wonderful time...Pics are lovely

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  3. Hello! I came across your blog while looking at a review on yelp. My husband and I are planning a trip in August that seems really similar to this one that you've been blogging! We are taking 2 weeks, flying into Seattle and driving down to San Fransisco. Do you have any suggestions for places to go and camp, especially in Northern California?
    Looks like your trip was great. Thanks for your help!

  4. @kraskin Hi Kim,you can start from Mount Rainier, then Olympic national park, Crater lake(highly recommend it), Redwoods national and state parks(campgrounds available at all of these),point Reyes national seashore(private campgrounds available: http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/nearbycampgrounds.htm). Have fun!