Olympic National Park: Hurricane Ridge

With my dad tagging along for the first part of our trip, I wasn't really sure what to expect. This was Jordan and my first big trip together, but from uncountable weekend ventures, we know how to travel together. My dad on the other hand, well I hadn't been on vacation with him since we went to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam before I got my braces off. When my dad said he was going to fly out to Washington to join us, I reminded him we would be hiking and camping. He agreed he was game for whatever. So, Jordan and I planned our trip for what we wanted to do and my dad came along. It was awesome.

From Port Crescent, we drove Highway 101 to Port Angeles and Hurricane Ridge Road. Hurricane Ridge Road from the Heart O the Hills Ranger Station to the Visitor's Center is approximately 13 miles, with more than 3,500' of elevation gain. As Jordan and I drove to the Ranger Station, we passed dozens and dozens of cyclists making the climb from Race Street to the vantage point. Before the Ranger Station, we parked so my dad could park his bike and enter the park with my Annual America the Beautiful Pass. (Side note: If you're a park junkie and don't have this pass, you're doing it wrong. For eighty bucks, you can get into all of the National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands- well worth it.)

Driving to the Visitor's Center, we again passed dozens and dozens of cyclists. At the time, Jordan and I had just signed up for our first triathlon and I couldn't fathom enduring, let alone conquering, a climb that steep and that long, but power to them! I was happy our little rental car made it up the climb!

If you have occasion to be in Northern Washington, you would be remiss to not at least make the drive to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor's Center. This place was surreal. Can you imagine having it as a house?! The views! I'd never be able to get work done!

Inside the Visitor's Center, there is a windowed observatory with a placard identifying all of the peaks in the ridge. From this vantage, we could see Mount Olympus among others and the Elwha River Valley sweeping below. Even with the low hanging clouds, the views were unparalleled to anything I have ever seen before. My dad, Jordan, and I bought coffees in the gift shop and sat on the patio of the Visitor's Center for a few minutes absorbing the immensity of the scene.

Quite possible the best feature of most of our trip through Olympic National Park was that EVERY thing we did was incredibly accessible. It's easy to think, "Oh, I'll never see anything like that because I can't hike hundreds of miles." But this place is so jam packed with beauty, the roads have to give you glimpses of some of it! The view from the Visitor's Center alone surpasses so many trail views I've had.

From the Visitor's Center, there are a few nature walks and trails for visitors to explore. We opted to hike the Hurricane Hill out-and-back, a 3.2 mile, well-traveled walk. As we began the trek, the clouds looming overhead began to close-in on the ridge line in the distance and obscure some of the expansive views we were delighted with from the Visitor's Center.

My dad, Harley Davidson jacket and blue jeans, hiked with us.

With a slight detour onto the Elwha Trail, we found a herd of the park's mountain goats. My dad was like a little boy on Christmas with excitement to see the goats. As is typical for summertime, the goats were shedding winter fur and tufts of fur littered the trails. Though the animals are known for their sometimes aggressive temperament, I laughed thinking how they are like the wild miniature ponies in Grayson Highlands- only interested in voraciously eating.

Google Photo pieced together this panoramic from my photos, thus giving my dad a twin!

#PNW #Epic #Mountains #Washington #OlympicNationalPark #NationalParkService #MustSee #CarTrip #WildAnimals

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