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Olympic Peninsula With Kids: Family Adventures in Nature

Camping, biking, kayaking, beachcombing and more unplugged fun

Tiffany Pitts
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Published on: August 10, 2020

Olympic Peninsula With Kids: Family Adventures in Nature

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Photo:
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park, Washington

Into the wild: coast and rainforest

For an even more unplugged vacation, keep heading west on Highway 101, circling Olympic National Park and visiting its amazing coast and rainforest. Eventually, you will end up in Forks. Yes, the Forks made famous in the “Twilight” series. More than the fictional home of vampires and Native American werewolves, Forks is a great place to outfit your family for a few days of hiking, fishing, whale-watching, beachcombing or just hanging out in nature.

Low-tech lodging is plentiful. Bogachiel State Park, 5 miles south of Forks, is a riverside campground at the tip of the Hoh Rain Forest. Fifteen miles northwest of Forks, in the La Push area, Olympic National Park’s Mora Campground is close to stunning Rialto Beach, where you’ll see pelicans swooping and diving over the water. Nearby attractions include Ruby Beach and its millions of stacking stones; First Beach, along the town of La Push; and our favorite, Second Beach. The trailhead for Second Beach can be found off La Push Road, on the Quileute Tribe's land. It’s about a mile long, well maintained and enchanting. 

South of Forks, also within Olympic National Park, the historic Kalaloch Lodge has cabins for rent (with no TV or wifi), so you can stay on the bluff and wander the stunning beach below (watch out for logs and riptides). There is also an adjacent national park campground.

It’s difficult to imagine anything living up to the beauty of the Washington coast, but that’s because you’re not in Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rain Forest yet. Twenty miles south of Forks on Highway 101, turn down the Upper Hoh Road and start driving back in time — to prehistory. Stop at the national park entrance kiosk to purchase a pass ($25 per car and valid for 7 consecutive days. If you have a fourth-grader, use your Every Kid Outdoors pass for free entry, and then head to the Hoh Rain Forest visitor center. 

Start your exploration in the Hall of Mosses, a short loop trail that introduces you to mammoth spruce trees, sheets of lichen and ferns so large, it’s almost a letdown not to see dinosaurs crashing around. A small detour from the trail will bring you to the banks of the Hoh River, a perfect stop for lunch and more mucking about.

You won’t find any Creepers or Zombie Pigmen in the Hoh. And texting is difficult when you’re busy making sandcastles. But whether it’s for a night or for a week, exploring the Olympic Peninsula is guaranteed to make memories that last forever, no charging cable required. 

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