Olympic rainforest suggestions
August 8, 2011 9:01 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I were thinking of heading up to the Olympic Peninsula over Labor Day to do some camping and light day-hiking and would love any suggestions for areas, camp-grounds, hikes, etc. Details inside.

This trip, we're more interested in rainforesty stuff than oceany or mountainy (or vampire-y), and in drive-up camp grounds rather than backcountry/ wilderness areas. We're not averse to roughing it (we certainly don't need running water and can poop in the woods just fine) and would love to avoid campgrounds that are more like RV parks, though like I said we're not planning to do any actual backpacking.

We're open to National Park, National Forest, State Park, State Forest, or any other suggestions. We've identified a couple of places in the National Park we'd like to check out (the Queets river area and the Quinault rain forest), but don't know how realistic it is to expect to find a National Park campsite on a holiday weekend since we won't be able to get up there any earlier than about 5PM on Friday. I know the Hoh rainforest area is pretty awesome, but is the campground there a zoo / RV parking lot?

Anyway, yeah, would love to hear any suggestions, thoughts, or ideas anyone has, including things to stay away from!

Thanks metafilter!
posted by dersins to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and my wife wants me to add that we're apparently interested in hot springs, as well.
posted by dersins at 9:02 AM on August 8, 2011

The only available hot springs are at Sol Duc. Work on the Elwha dam and road will prevent you from accessing the Olympic Hot Springs.

Finding a campsite after 5 on Labor Day Friday, I hate to say it, will be next to impossible. You can disperse camp on USFS land. There are a couple of non-park campgrounds on the Hoh road. There's Bogachiel SP. You might try Grave's Creek up the Quinault road. There are NSFS campgrounds on Lk. Quinault. You might contact the private Rain Forest Resort Village at Lk Quinault. There's RV-ish camping at La Push Oceanside Resort and more tent-y camping at Lonesome Creek Resort next door.

You pose a tough question. I live in Port Townsend so let me know if you have more questions.

Where are you coming from?
posted by humboldt32 at 9:44 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Coming from Portland, so we'll be arriving on the peninsula on 101 from either Aberdeen or Olympia depending on which side we decide to go to...
posted by dersins at 9:48 AM on August 8, 2011

The east side/Hood Canal is always less crowded. It's also less "rainforest-y".

You might consider camping in NSFS land on the south side of the park. Lake Wynoochee and that area.

It's really hard to recommend because all sites (well, most) are first-come-first-served. Do you have a DeLorme Washington Atlas/Gazetteer? High clearance vehicle?

I love staying at La Push. They have a variety of cabins, including rustic "camper cabins". Also, look at Quillayute River Resort.

Happy to answer more questions.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:04 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bah: *USFS*
posted by humboldt32 at 10:04 AM on August 8, 2011

Yield to any goats,......jus' sayin'
posted by Freedomboy at 10:08 AM on August 8, 2011

Shi Shi Beach. It's incredible. In fact, I feel a little guilty tipping people off to it, because it's still mostly unspoilt.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:20 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

My vote is also for Shi Shi Beach. It really is incredible. If you go, make sure to pay attention to the tides. Not remembering the tides could get you stuck down the beach waiting for low tide.

Here are a few pictures
my apologies for the lens smudge

Also, for what its worth, when I circled around olympic national park, I did Hoh rainforest last, and I was a little disappointed. Every other place I camped/hiked had the same sort of old-growth that the Hoh had.
posted by czytm at 11:04 AM on August 8, 2011

Ack, I missed the part where you said less ocean, more rainforest
posted by czytm at 11:06 AM on August 8, 2011

Response by poster: Finding a campsite after 5 on Labor Day Friday, I hate to say it, will be next to impossible.

Realistically, how early would I have to arrive, do you think? Friday morning? Thursday? Wednesday? Assume I'm more interested in small, more primitive non-RV campgrounds than the giant popular ones like Hoh and Sol Duc.
posted by dersins at 7:12 PM on August 8, 2011

Mid-day Thursday at the latest. The Peninsula is extra busy this year because the weather turned nice so late. A lot of people are just now getting out and everything is busier than usual. Fridays tend to fill up even on non-holiday weekends.
posted by SakuraK at 10:09 PM on August 8, 2011

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