Kalaloch and Ruby Beach#3 in Best Things To Do in Olympic National Park
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Kalaloch, located on the southwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula, is one of the most visited areas of Olympic National Park. The marine environment and offshore islands are protected by three national wildlife refuges. For thousands of marine species, the coastal waters provide a safe haven, which is why Kalaloch is such a draw for birders. Western gulls, bald eagles and other coastal birds can be seen nesting and feeding along the southern coast. Large nesting colonies of birds, like common murres and tufted puffins, love the rocky outposts. Visitors also commonly see harbor seals and harbor porpoises. Reviewers call the scenery "beyond beautiful" and "picture perfect."
The mile-long Kalaloch Nature Trail is an easy loop through coastal forest. There are also seven beach trails that lead to the ocean from Highway 101. Ruby Beach and Beach Trail 4 have accessible viewpoints and accessible vault toilets. What's more, Beach 4 is an excellent place to look for sea stars and anemones in the tide pools.
Kalaloch and Ruby Beach are accessible directly off of Highway 101. The Kalaloch Ranger Station is open daily in summer only, with information, exhibits, books and maps. The Kalaloch Lodge is open year-round, with cabins, lodge rooms, a restaurant, gift shop and a camp store. When hiking the coast, always check the tides (current charts are available at the Kalaloch Ranger Station). Certain areas may become impassable during high tides and overland trails must be used. For more information, consult the NPS website.
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#1 Hoh Rain Forest
With an annual rainfall ranging from 140 to 170 inches, the Hoh Rain Forest is a lush, green wonderland, with mosses and ferns covering every tree and surface. According to the NPS, it is one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park's most popular spots to visit. One visitor described walking in the forest as a "Hansel and Gretel-type of feeling" while another likened it to a fairy tale enchanted forest.
Most travelers begin at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, which is staffed with rangers who can offer advice on what to see and do. The visitor center also houses exhibits and a bookstore. Two short nature trails loop through the forest near the center, the Hall of Mosses Trail (.8 miles) and the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles). If you're up to the challenge, there is also a 17-mile trail that leads to Glacier Meadows, on the shoulder of Mount Olympus, called the Hoh River Trail.
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