The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
Hoh Rain Forest
If you have time to visit only one of the lush rain forest areas of Washington’s northwest coast, head for the Hoh Rain Forest, 12 miles south of Forks and then 18 miles east along a well-signed and well-paved road. Not only is this the most easily accessible of these incredibly lush, old-growth areas, the Hoh Rain Forest is also among the least disturbed, with a thick, wet blanket of vibrant green ferns, mosses, and lichens covering every inch of the earth at the foot of massive hemlocks, cedars, and towering Sitka spruce. Displays inside the visitors center tell all about the forest’s flora and fauna and how they are affected by the massive rainfall here—upwards of 140 inches every year. There’s also a wheelchair-accessible nature trail and a wide range of hiking trails, including the quickest access to the icy summit of 7,965-foot Mt. Olympus, 22 miles away in the glacier-packed alpine highlands at the heart of the park.
The closest services to the Hoh Rain Forest are in Forks, but budget travelers may want to take advantage of the $10-a-night bunks at the amiable Rain Forest Hostel (169312 Hwy-101, 360/374-2270), 23 miles south of Forks along US-101 (between milemarkers 169 and 170), midway between the Hoh Rain Forest and the coast at Ruby Beach.