We’ve all heard the opinion that western Washington is almost perpetually grey and rainy. While that may be the case in winter months, most of the west side is quite temperate and beautiful for much of the rest of the year.
However, when it comes to one special west side region, an honest-to-goodness rain forest does actually exist! Located on the Olympic Peninsula inside of the Olympic National Park, this protected rain forest gets around twelve feet of rain per year.
The Hoh Rain Forest is just one of four rain forests on the Olympic Peninsula though! But it is the only World Heritage Site AND Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in the area. And it just might be one of the most beloved sights in the entire state by residents, and visitors alike.
When Visiting the Hoh Rain forest
When visiting, you’ll want to start at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center where you can find out a little bit of background information on the forest and use the restroom before setting out. For choice of hikes, there are three. The “Hall of Mosses Trail” coming in at 0.8 miles, the “Spruce Nature Trail” at 1.2 miles or the “5 Miles Island Hike” which will take you deep into the forest and give you a well-rounded idea of its true beauty.
There is no entrance fee to this beautiful forest, but a Discover Pass is required to get into the Olympic National Park which costs $11.50 per day, or $35 for the year. The Hoh Rain Forest is open to visitors year-round, but it’s recommended by those who have visited multiple times- go on the damp days!
Why on the damp days?
This is when the greenery and moss are at their most vibrant. From the Sitka spruce, to western hemlock, some reaching over 312 feet tall, there are dozens of varieties of flora and fauna to be spotted. Coast Douglas-fir, western red cedar, big leaf maple, unique mosses and more. All of these “green goodies” are then enjoyed by the various deer and elk. If quiet enough when visiting, you might have the opportunity to spot a bobcat, cougar, or even the banana slug- which here can reach up to 10 inches long and come in at a quarter pound!
Interested in hiking? Check out this article about the Grizzly Bears in the Selkirk Mountains.