Renewing my mind and spirit throughout the year is a wonderful way to help me juggle my busy schedule and family life, and to maintain overall well-being.
I have figured out that one of the easiest and most budget-friendly ways to re-energize my soul is to travel to a national park. I have been lucky to have visited several national parks over the years, but a few stand out as my favorites, with Olympic National Park, in Washington State, being one of them.
If you love the Pacific Northwest, you will love visiting this lush park, which covers more than 1,400 miles of land across the Olympic Peninsula. Were you to cross the park in its entirely, you would experience a diverse ecosystem from rain forests to mountain peaks.
On my most recent visit, I arrived in Seattle on a rainy and cool afternoon and immediately boarded the Bainbridge Island ferry. By car, from the ferry terminal on the Bainbridge side, Olympic is a three-hour drive.
Olympic is a hiking-lover’s paradise
Where to stay
During my visit to the park, I stayed in the gorgeous Lake Crescent Lodge, which has all the amenities you could want, as well as direct access to the lake and park. Also, there’s nothing like waking up to the views of the fog and sunrise over Lake Crescent.
The lodge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has 55 rooms, as well as several cabins to accommodate different-sized groups. Some cabins, particularly the Roosevelt Cabins, boast their very own fireplaces and water-facing views. The cabins have running water and toilets as well. The lodge even has an in-house, award-winning restaurant and bar.
Of course those who prefer to rough it can camp in the park as well. Most campground reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Summer guests can make reservations at the popular Kalaloch Campground, the best of the bunch. It’s important to keep in mind that park-operated campgrounds are not equipped with water or electrical hookups for campers.
Viewfinder Tip: Take ranger-led hikes through the park. Reserve them through the park or with the concierge if you’re staying at a park hotel.
Disconnect from the world
Though it’s not impossible to find WiFi access around the park, it can be difficult, making your trip here a complete escape.
With all that time offline, spend your days hiking the many trails, chatting it up with a park ranger or two, kayaking on a lake, walking through the Hall of Moss in the Hoh Rain Forest, or collecting rocks anywhere along the beaches that comprise two miles of the park’s Pacific coastline. (The park covers 73 miles of wilderness coast overall.)
It is easy to embrace the silence and beauty here, to relish every opportunity to engage with your feelings and thoughts. I like to come and relax and refocus, and to remember what’s important and what you can let go.
One trip is never enough to explore all this beautiful park has to offer, and once you visit the first time you will find a million reasons to return.
What are your favorite national parks and why?