Explore Olympic National Park Rainforest Destinations
The protected, bucolic forests of the Hoh, Quinault, Queets and Bogachiel river valleys respresent the most beautiful of what remains of the temperate rain forests that once stretched from southeast Alaska to southern Oregon.
These river valleys are ideally located for temperate rainforests. The west-facing valleys of these Olympic National Park rainforest destinations receive 12 to 14 feet of precipitation annually. The moderate climate ensures that temperatures rarely drop below freezing and highs seldom exceeds 80°F.
These temperate Olympic National Park Rainforest destinations feature:
- Large, old trees, mostly western hemlock and Sitka spruce, grow up to 60 feet in circumference and can reach over 200 feet in height. Other trees include bigleaf maple, black cottonwood, Douglas fir, red alder, western redcedar and vine maple.
- Epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants) including cat-tail moss, licorice fern, lungwort and Oregon selaginella proliferate throughout the rain forests.
- Many new trees seedlings germinate on "nurse logs" (fallen, decaying trees) which cause their roots to grow above ground.
- Common shrubs include salmonberry and huckleberry.
- Common understory plants include lady fern, oregon oxalis, stair-step moss, sword fern and 100s more species of lichens, liverworts and mosses.
All of this combines to make for an idyllic home for many mammals, insects and amphibians. The most iconic species is the Roosevelt elk. The rainforests are home to the largest populations of Roosevelt elk in the United States.
Olympic National Park Rainforest Destinations include:
Hoh Rain Forest
A wide arrary of green welcomes you to the Hoh Rainforest, conveniently located on the Olympic Peninsula a half hour from Washington's popular Forks destination. Take the Upper Hoh Road for spectacular views of the Hoh River, which flows 70 miles from the glaciers of Mount Olympus to the Pacific Ocean.
Quinault Rain Forest
The Quinault Rainforest orginates in the Low Divide drainage to the northwest and the Mount Anderson drainage to the east of the forest and follows along the east and north forks of the Quinault River where they merge into the single Qunault River in the valley below. The rain forest encompasses scenic Lake Quinault.
Queets Rain Forest
The majority of the remote Queets Rainforest is public and tribal land. The Queets tribal community is located near the mouth of the Queets River. Access to this, on of the Olympic Peninsula's most untouched rain forests, is limited and is generally accessed only in the lower reaches of the Queets River.
Bogachiel Rain Forest
Often called "Washington's forgotten rain forest" due to a lack of a visitor center or main road, the Bogachiel rainforest is located at the edge of the more widely accessed Hoh Rainforest.