By Michael Lanza
You can’t order fried seafood or buy a T-shirt anywhere along the 73 miles of seashore of Olympic National Park. What you will find is the longest strip of wilderness coastline in the contiguous United States, home to seals, sea lions, sea otters, bald eagles, tufted puffins, and many seabirds, and humpback, gray, minke, and blue whales. Salmon spawn in wild rivers. Up and down the coast, scores of stone pinnacles—called sea stacks—rise as much as 200 feet out of the ocean. It’s one of the few remaining pieces of ocean-view real estate in the Lower 48 that Lewis and Clark or Capt. George Vancouver would recognize.
On a three-day, 17.5-mile backpacking trip on the southern stretch of the Olympic coast, from the Hoh River north to La Push Road, my family camped on the wilderness beach, explored tide pools and boulders coated with mussels, sea stars, and sea anemones, and walked through one of Earth’s largest virgin temperate rainforests, where Sitka spruce and western red cedar grow to 150 feet tall, with diameters of 10 or 15 feet, and Douglas fir and western hemlock soar well over 200 feet.
It’s still one of my kids’ favorite trips and one of my top 10 family adventures.
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Get a sense of that adventure from the photo gallery below, and then read my full story from that trip, which has many more photos and a video.
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