finding Pacific Northwest beauty in Rialto Beach
Olympic National Park was the most impressive scenic spot during our recent trip to Seattle this June. From downtown Seattle, we took the ferry to Bainbridge Island first and drove all the way west to Port Angeles, and then continued on to Olympic National Park Visitor Center.
From there, we headed south and drove uphill for about 30 minutes till we got to the top of Hurricane Ridge, where the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center was located. Due to the heavy fog, we couldn’t see much of the alpine meadow and mountain slopes, but we still spotted some deer nearby and got really close.
On our way to our next destination, Sol Duc Hot Springs, we passed by Lake Crescent along Highway 101. What a big lake with crystal clear water and postcard-like views! There are many ways to enjoy the lake – hiking, boating, kayaking, fishing. I especially recommend trying the hiking trail near Marymere Falls.
Heading south for about another 20 minutes, we finally reached Sol Duc Hot Spring Resort around 7 p.m. For the last two hours (7-9 p.m.) of pool hours in summer, it costs $9.25 per person for visitors. (For cabin guests of the resort, the use of pools is complimentary.) There are three mineral hot spring pools and one freshwater swimming pool. Each hot spring pool is different in temperature and size (small at ~99ºF, medium ~104ºF, large ~101ºF); we tried all and loved the middle temperature most.
Normally, we might’ve thought that the greenish-blue hot spring water smelt stinky and felt sticky – but surrounded by evergreen mountains, bathing in hot spring water and breathing immaculate air while gazing at the mountain slopes made for an ideal evening. Massage service was also available, but we had to head towards Forks, Washington, for our lodging that night.
The next morning, we left Forks for Hoh Rain Forest. There are several hiking trails you can choose there for a short hike. I recommend trying at least one trail to get a better feel of the rain forest. We walked along a short trail and even ran into a herd of deer, about 20 or so crossing the trail ahead of us. Indeed, the breathtaking view of the rain forest was unique – so different from other hiking trails we’ve been on before.
Driving further west to the Pacific, we got to Rialto Beach after lunch. With lots of logs, tree trunks, rocks and pebbles scattered across the beach, we took some pebbles for a keepsake. It’s a perfect beach for watching waves and taking a nice long walk.
If you really want to enjoy your trip to Olympic National Park, you should budget at least three days and be prepared to drive a lot. We left with a great impression and were filled with aspirations to return.