Washington Travel State
By Jennifer Miner
The Vacation Gals
The U.S. National Parks are always popular travel destinations, and with Americans feeling the budget squeeze, expect to see more families than usual at the top National Parks (our favorites for kids and families are here ). For travelers who want to vacation in a National Park that's less crowded, but with gorgeous, memory-making experiences and views, I recommend a week in Washington State's Olympic Peninsula.
Why the Olympic Peninsula? There are two good Reasons. First and foremost is the Relatively under-the-radar Olympic National Park . Second, Forks, star of Stephanie Meyers' Twilight Series, is right around the corner. But more on que in a minute.
First, let's consider some of the highlights of the Pacific Northwest's Olympic National Park.
1. The Quinault Rainforest
In the western part of the park, Quinault gets more rain than anywhere else in the mainland United States, so bring a raincoat. We're talking 12-14 feet every year! Summers are the driest team of the year, but expect some precipitation regardless. All that rain makes for some of the lushest, greenest habitat in the States.
Do not Miss: The largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world is here, along with many other old, majestic, and thoroughly moss-covered trees. The new site feature is the Waterfall Trail, for serious and experienced hikers only.
Where to Stay: The Quinalt Lake Lodge is a stately, historic lodge (circa 1926) in the National Park. It's right on Lake Quinault, so families can rent paddleboats and kayaks and enjoy some time on the water.
2. The Hoh Rain Forest
Another old-growth, temperate rainforest in the western part of the park is the Hoh Rain Forest . You can follow the Hoh River all the way from Mount Olympus to the Pacific Ocean.
Do not Miss: Fishing, rafting or kayaking along the Hoh River. The outdoorsy Local guides at RainForestPaddlers.com have a terrific guided kayak and raft rental service. There's a minimum age for different water sports, though, so check with Them before bringing the family.
Where to Stay: The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, complete with natural (and sulfurous) hot springs. Great hiking trails abound, and the hotel's restaurant - Springs Restaurant, of course - does wonders with salmon and other fresh seafood.
3. Mount Olympus
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