Few places in the world are as beautiful as Olympic National Park. Year round, the upper left corner of the contiguous United States inspires wanderlust and leaves visitors in awe with true wilderness beauty and the spring months are no exception. As the temperatures warm up and the delight hours grow longer, the snowpack in the rugged mountains begins to melt, helping transform the regions waterfalls, rivers and creeks into beautiful torrents of water. Roads reopen after months of being closed and the animals start to wander around with their new offspring. Whales migrate offshore, hikers return to once snow-covered trails and all seems right with the world. Spring in Olympic is an experience your soul deserves and a perfect way to kick start your year of adventures in the great outdoors.
Along the eastern slopes of Olympic National Park, high above the fjord-filled wonderland of Hood Canal, a shimmering and shining lake thaws underneath two majestic peaks. Like a miniature Glacier National Park, this remote, oft-overlooked wilderness playground needs to be your late-spring adventure destination. Once the snow starts to melt for good and the creeks become passable after the spring floods, head to Upper Lena Lake in the Hamma Hamma region for insanely gorgeous views, incredible camping and endless exploration.
Great news for hikers looking to stand atop one of America’s most famous volcanoes! Starting on Wednesday, February 1st 2017 at 9am PST, this year’s climbing permits will be available for purchase to summit the stunning peak of Mt. St. Helens. Permits are $22.00 and are limited to just 500 a day from April 1st to May 14th. From May 15th to October 31st, only 100 permits are issued a day.
I do not love being in the wilderness by myself. I really don’t. It’s not blind fear or a phobia. It’s being in my head; all by myself for hours, not being able to share the experience with anyone that sort of lacks any draw for me. I guess, I don’t like loneliness. Doesn’t make me a good Northwest outdoor person, I suppose. Most people go outdoors to get away from everything and anyone. Not me.
But, just before the weather turned this fall, I wanted to test myself, wanted to try out that solo experience and see what it was all about.
As the snow falls on the mountains and hills around the Pacific Northwest, the hiking community struggles to find someplace new and remote, rewarding, accessible and beautiful. Franklin Falls, Lake Wenatchee, Hurricane Ridge, Artist Point, Paradise; the crowds gather at popular winter destinations around the region, bottlenecked by a lack of accessibility to other regions. Surrounded by a wealth of natural wonders, residents of Washington find ourselves repeating the same trips, or staying indoors until the weather gets better. Don’t fall into that trap. In the winter, while many will try to be awesome and climb high for epic, snowy, panoramic views, hundreds of miles of trails are sitting mostly empty along the wild and scenic rivers of Olympic National Park and Peninsula. One such river, the Dosewallips, is the ideal place to get away and experience the beauty of nature, just a short drive from the major cities of the Puget Sound.
Few places in the world produce pure joy and happiness with just one glance, but Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge does that with ease. A mile above the Strait of Juan de Fuca and just a short 17 mile drive from the fantastic outdoor recreation town of Port Angeles, Washington, Hurricane Ridge is one of America’s most-underrated nature destinations. Open year round in the summer, the area is only accessible during the snowy months on the weekends, making a trip to the region a limited edition experience. Plan ahead, grab your snow gear and camera and hit up The Ridge this winter. This is a family-friendly adventure you don’t want to miss.
Life is hard and then, for most of us, it somehow gets harder. We keep fighting to keep our head above water, to stand tall in the face of adversity and to fight on. That is one of the reasons so many of us resonate with the Root Tree at Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park. Defying the odds, this tree is holding on by its roots, surviving against the power of erosion and the elements. Struggling and somehow living another day, we are inspired by its resilience, strength and beauty. As one of the unofficial representatives to the Washington Coast, the Kalaloch Root Tree is an introduction to the beaches of Olympic and a gateway to beautiful, rugged wilderness and the power of the Washington Coast.
Overlooked by the masses who head to the mosses of the Hoh, the Bogachiel Rainforest might be one of America’s best kept secrets. Just a few short miles form the small logging town of Forks, Washington, this wild and scenic river on the Olympic Peninsula is home to iconic rainforest trails and access to a remote corner of Olympic National Park. Closed in March of 2016, when the Bogachiel River shifted course and wiped out part of the trail, the area has now reopened, once again allowing endless wilderness exploration in a hidden corner of the Olympics. Full of history, majestic forests and a lifetime of breathtaking rainforest views, the Bogachiel needs to be your next Olympic destination. The beauty of the Bogachiel helped inspire the creation of Olympic National Park, so why not explore it on your next day off?
Each year, when daylight hours start to dwindle and the temperature hovers around freezing, an excitement builds around the Pacific Northwest. As newscasters pretext not whip us into a frenzy over incoming winter weather conditions, the freezing level starts falling toward sea-level, raising our expectations for a chance to experience a winter wonderland. When it snows in the Pacific Northwest, our normal world full of endless green transforms, wrapping itself in a silent blanket of white. The first winter snowfall on our favorite trails leads us into an unexpected wonderland, inspiring snowy adventures in what no feels like a foreign landscape.
With Christmas approaching, one of Washington’s cash crops is quickly being harvested and is getting sent around the globe. The Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association boasts that Christmas tree sales bring $35 million to the state’s economy, making The Evergreen State the fifth largest Christmas tree producer in the nation. Over 2.3 million trees in Washington are cut down each year for Christmas celebrations around the world, with 90% of production going out of state, the majority to California and Mexico. Many of the trees come from Thurston, Mason and Lewis Counties, which means that around the South Sound, we have some of the best Christmas trees in the world.
On Black Friday 2016, when many will be shopping indoors, nature lovers of all ages and abilities will be having a whale of time in Tacoma, Washington. Starting at 11am at Owen Beach along Five Mile Drive and Point Defiance Park, whaling enthusiasts will be gathering to hear from local whale watchers and possibly see some of them as they swim near the shore. Choosing to #OptOutside in the Pacific Northwest, we have many unique opportunities. This event in Tacoma is yet another example of why living in Washington State is so incredible.
In the midst of election season, after record rainfall this October, living in the Pacific Northwest can make anyone feel down.
Fear not- remember that there’s always sun after the rain.
Inspired by the famous children’s book ‘Frederick – the Mouse‘, here are some of our most sunniest photos of 2016, helping us remember the good times.
At the base of an 82 foot waterfall, hundreds of salmon congregate together, all with the same goal. Their lives have been spent swimming from freshwater to salt water and back, cruising around in the Pacific, trying their best to avoiding predators and fishermen. They dodged seals and orcas, nets and rising acidity in the water, only to be stumped by the massive size and scale of Tumwater Falls. They gather at the base, smelling their ancestral home in the freshwater pouring down the rocks, eager to figure out a way to get home and complete their life’s mission.
Weaving around a gravel Forest Service Road, I began to wonder if I would ever reach my destination. I was high above sea level, working my way up one of the thousands of peaks that make up the Rocky Mountains of Montana, excited to see the swanky digs that I would be enjoying for the night. Normally, I make the drive from Yellowstone to the Puget Sound region in a day, but on this trip, I needed something special to end my incredible vacation. I needed a memorable way to officially end summer, something that I could look back on fondly and fully enjoy the start of the cooler weather. Thanks to recreation.gov, I found a fire lookout in the Lolo National Forest that I could stay at, in the middle of grizzly country, for just $30 a night.
The dog days of summer are finally here!!
More often than not, our friends around the Olympic Peninsula have amazing stories to share with The Outdoor Society. They inspire us, encourage us to try new things and help remind us that there are millions of possible recreation activities and destinations to enjoy around the region. Recently, we reached out to our good friends at Blue Horizons Paddlesports and asked for an update on the stunning scenes along the waters of Hood Canal and Lake Cushman. Below is a quick, and hopefully weekly, report on the highlights of paddling in the area, as well as some pictures that will hopefully have you heading out and paddling with these awesome folks.
There are plenty of incredible races just outside our doorsteps to keep us busy and entertained for years. A couple of weeks ago, I highlighted some of the most amazing trail races in my home of the Pacific Northwest. Participating in a trail race in Europe feels far away, and certainly a thing for dreams, bucket lists, and once-in-a-lifetime vacation plans; it is also a great way of experiencing this region in a very unique way. The Alps, in the heart of Europe, host many fabled trail races in some of the most iconic mountain locations in the world. UTMB is the grand daddy of all trail races. Beginning and ending in Chamonix, while circumnavigating Mont Blanc, it is definitely the most coveted of them all, but there are plenty others.
There is this trail, in a magnificent valley in the one-of-a-kind Olympic National Park, where amazing adventures can be had. On the Hood Canal side of Olympic National Park, the Dosewallips River Valley sits, ready to explore. In early 2016, The Outdoor Society Trail Running Adventure Crew decided to head out on an adventure in to the snowy wonderland and the base of the stunning Olympic Mountains.