Exploring The Diversity Of Washington's Olympic Peninsula
As I woke up to snooze my alarm at 6 a.m., I awoke to the sound of rain crashing against the roof of our camper van. It was the second time during our road trip that we had slept in a parking lot. Only, this time it wasn't a Walmart... it was in a quite, little parking lot right across the street from what seemed like the towns only grocery store.
I know what you're thinking, "that sounds scary?" Sure, stories of people missing and small-town serial killers ran through my mind at first; but honestly, it was one of the most comfortable rests of my life. I woke up well rested and ready to visit one of my favorite places — Washington's Olympic Peninsula. A diverse corner of the U.S. unlike any other.
Having already been to Washington's Olympic Peninsula before, I was familiar with what to expect. This time around I was armed with a list of places and experiences that I didn't want to miss out on. Like the waiving bears who call Olympic Game Farm home, or Hoh Rain Forest; a place that at first glance one could mistake for being in the Amazon.
Our first stop was Ruby Beach, just one of the rugged beaches scattered across Washington's pristine Olympic Peninsula coastline. It's a beach unlike those that I've grown accustomed to as a Southern California native. It's not riddled with multi-million dollar beach front properties, and a ridiculous amount of parking meters. Instead, Ruby Beach is wild and protected. The first time I had visited, I was immediately awestruck by the amount of drift wood and sea stacks lining its shore.
After enjoying the crashing waves and reflecting on how incredible Mother Nature can be, we headed towards Hoh Rain Forest — a place I had been wanting to see for a very long time. The minute you pull into the road leading towards the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, you are instantly greeted by lush, green forest covered in moss and fern.
It's one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States; and although Hoh Rain Forest is one of four rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula, it's the only one that has been awarded the distinction of being a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
After a day full of exploring, we headed towards Port Angeles in search of a campsite, and preferably not a parking lot. On our way I was immediately reminded of Lake Crescent, a picturesque lake nestled in the northern foothills of the Olympic mountains. It's incredible how much beauty is located right off of the highway. It was a cold, foggy afternoon; which made for a great photo op.
Finally, we were able to check into our campsite for some much needed showers, charging outlets, and even some craft beer. We made some spicy guacamole, tacos, and chili; a great ending to a great day. We woke up bright and early, eager to visit Olympic Game Farm. Ever since first seeing a waiving bear on social media, I knew it was something that I had to see with my own eyes. We were told to take bread... lots and lots of bread, specifically whole wheat only. Apparently these were some very health conscious bears.
Olympic Game Farm offers visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with animals that we would normally not even think twice of getting close to. We were the first car to drive through, so we knew the animals would be eager to chow down some bread. It was incredible! It was an experience that I'll never forget. Especially when 1,400 lb. bison are sticking their heads in your car — horns and all.