This national park features three different areas of interest, each separated by a drive of roughly two hours. Ruby Beach is in many ways a typical rugged Pacific coast shoreline with waves crashing against huge rocks of volcanic origin. But we have seen a dozen similar beaches in the past few weeks so we skipped this one. Koh Rain Forest averages 170 inches of rainfall nourishing plant and animal species found almost nowhere else. But we have seen banana slugs, and growing up in Louisiana has to give me and Kat some kind of rain forest bonafides: no need to take a four hour round trip drive for that. Most visitors to Olympic NP make it a point to see Hurricane Ridge, a windy mountaintop with views of several glaciers and some distant mountain ranges, if you arrive on a clear day.
We had perfect weather on the day of our arrival at Conestoga Campground in Port Angeles, WA, but Weather Underground told us to look for clouds, followed by rain on our first and second full days outside Olympia. Mama liked to say “Make hay while the sun shines” and without cutting any grass, we did just that. We drove to Hurricane Ridge on arrival afternoon while the skies remained mostly sunny. Here and there we got some fine views of sky and snow-capped peaks, but it is not easy to distinguish snow pack from glaciers. NPS has done a good job of creating large photographic displays pointing out peak names, glaciers, and waterfalls, so we think we figured out which is which.
On our trip down the mountain we noticed many wild flowers in full bloom, many bearing a close resemblance to those we used to see in Texas — in March. Spring has come to Olympic only now, but the calendar tells us summer is only days away.
Oly is actually a good place to view one of America’s most endangered species, the glacier. More of them survive here than at Glacier NP, but they are wasting away in all our National Parks. And there are even more relatively healthy glaciers within the next park we will report on, Mount Rainier. At Rainier summer is even further away; we will have more on that topic, soon.