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Imagine my surprise when I discovered there were rainforests in the Pacific Northwest! Perhaps you already knew that rainforests exist in the United States. And, perhaps, United States geography is not my best subject, but I had no idea that a place like the Hoh Rain Forest existed in coastal Washington. To me, “rainforest” meant somewhere in South America or Asia or maybe even in the middle of Africa.

After I made this discovery, I knew we had to spend some time in the Hoh Rain Forest. I continued researching. The vines, the lush greenery, the potential to see a banana slug? Sign me up! I was all in. And when I mentioned this adventure to my travel companions, they were all in, too.

Planning Your Visit to Hoh Rain Forest

The Hoh Rain Forest Trail of Mosses

Some Background

Our visit to the Hoh Rainforest was part of an enormous road trip we took in 2021. We drove from Joplin, Missouri, across the Midwest toward Grand Teton National Park. To read about our adventures there, click here.

We followed that up with Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. To read more about Yellowstone, click here. Want to know more about Glacier? Click here.

From Glacier, we drove over to the Seattle area, where we spent three nights. We threw in Mt. Rainier National Park while we were there. To read more about Mt. Ranier, click here.

From Seattle, we drove to Forks to spend some time on the Olympic Penisula. We hoped to get a taste of Olympic National Park and see some of the Twilight spots in Forks. We were able to spend a sunset at Ruby Beach, which is part of the national park. To read more about that experience, click here. We also had a great time at Forks.  Click here to read more about that.

Hoh Rain Forest Info

I mention all of this to show just how little time we had in the park. We live so far away that we want to hit as many highlights as are reasonable, though some people may disagree with what we deem “reasonable.” Still, we wanted to get a taste of things, and often we make plans to return to places we want to explore more. We only had time for a couple of experiences, so we chose Ruby Beach and the Hoh Rainforest.

So really, we only spent about 24 hours in the Olympic National Park area. And at the time, and it’s probably true now, the Hoh Rain Forest was extremely popular with limited parking in the area. Vehicles were being allowed in until the area was full. Then, cars had to wait on the road until someone left. This could make wait times long.

We knew our best chance to get in to explore the rainforest was getting there early. We arrived about an hour before the visitor center opened. In July, this worked out for us. We were able to drive right in with no wait and find a parking spot.

To get the most up-to-date information, be sure to check out the Hoh Rain Forest website.

Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center

When we arrived, the visitor center wasn’t open yet, so we decided to check it out on the way out. We did park in the lot nearby, but we skipped the visitor center and went straight for the Hall of Mosses trail.

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center

Like most visitor centers, you’ll find displays of the environment you’re exploring, and you can learn more about how the ecosystem works. There are restrooms outside of the visitor center.

Hall of Mosses

Trail of Mosses Hoh Rainforest

We are not super hikers, but we like to take a nice trail from time to time. For us, the Hall of Mosses made sense. It’s a loop trail that takes you through some of the best examples of the features of the rainforest. In July, you probably need to be prepared that the rainforest could be dryer than at other times. You’ll still see the moss and greenery, but it may be a bit browner and less damp than when it’s rainy.

Hoh Rainforest Olympic National Park

The morning sun added some fun light to our pictures.

Hoh Rainforest Olympic National Park

The trees here are big.

The Hoh Rain Forest Trail of Mosses

Not as big as the Redwoods or Sequoias, but still rather large.

Hoh Rainforest Olympic National Park

The rainforest made me feel like I was part of a fairytale. There are so many interesting nooks and crannies to see.

Hoh Rainforest Olympic National Park

The loop winds around through the rainforest, over bridges, and under tree limbs.

The Hoh Rain Forest Trail of Mosses

It was a relaxing place to explore.

Hoh Rainforest Olympic National Park

You may have noticed from the pictures: most of the trail is dirt and gravel. There are parts that are boardwalk.

The Hoh Rain Forest Trail of Mosses

The trail is not difficult; Kristin did it in flip-flops.

The Hoh Rain Forest Trail of Mosses

The trail was pretty dusty during our visit, but we still encountered pools of water here and there.

The Hoh Rain Forest Trail of Mosses

Again, I really loved the sunlight in the morning.

The Hoh Rain Forest Trail of Mosses

Simply gorgeous!

The Hoh Rain Forest Trail of Mosses

Some areas feel like another world.

The Hoh Rain Forest Trail of Mosses

As you make your way around the loop, you’ll see the trailhead for The Hoh River Trail and the Spruce Nature Trial.

Hoh River Trail Olympic National Park

The Hoh River Trail is one of those trails that you can take as far as you’d like and then turn around. If you go the entire way, you’ll end up at Glacier Maraine at the foot of Mount Olympus. From there, you can take the Hoh Lake Trail if you wish. Maybe someday.

Wildlife in the Hoh Rain Forest

You may encounter some wildlife in the Hoh Rainforest. You still need to be bear-aware in the area, especially if you venture out beyond the loop. Apparently, mountain goats and cougars could also be in the park.

We didn’t see anything like that.

We saw and heard an owl, but it was too far away for a great picture. We also saw this banana slug.

Banana slug in the Hoh Rain Forest

I feel like seeing the banana slug allowed us to mark a space on our Hof Rain Forest bingo card. Can you truly say you’ve been to the Hoh Rain Forest if you don’t see one? They are kind of cute.

Banana slug in the Hoh Rain Forest

As we left later that morning, we saw some deer getting a drink in the Hoh River.

Hoh River Olympic National Park

Wrapping Up the Hoh Rain Forest

We had a great visit, and we’d encourage anyone to give the Hoh Rainforest a shot. Olympic National Park is so unique compared to other parks in the area. As I mentioned before, I had no idea there was a rainforest in the Pacific Northwest prior to planning this trip. I hope we can return to the area soon to see more of what Olympic National Park and the Hoh Rain Forest have to offer!

Hoh Rain Forest
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11 Comments

  1. What a gorgeous place! I loved reading and seeing photos of the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park….I lived in the PNW for over 15 years and loved hiking and spending time in the stunning nature of Washing and Oregon. I never did visit Hoh Rain Forest though and I wish I had! Maybe someday!

  2. I’m fascinated with trees. So would love exploring Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park. So beautiful!

  3. A banana slug — wow better to see one than to be one! Looks like you had a great time in the Hoh Rain Forest.

  4. Who knew there was a rainforest in the Pacific Northwest? Not me! I would love to visit Hoh Rain Forest with my family. Definitely gonna put that on my bucket list.

  5. It would be nice to visit the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic National Park and enjoy spending time with nature. And see and walk among the tall trees.

  6. I’ve been to a few rainforests internationally, but I’ve never been to one in the U.S. I’ve never heard of the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park. I’d love to explore & hike there one day!

  7. It wasn’t until after I graduated college that I learned that the Pacific northwest had a rainforest! Why isn’t this talked about more?! The Hoh Rain Forest looks beautiful and would love to visit it. I love trees and those trees are majestic! The rainforest is absolutely stunning in the morning. Seems like the best time to go maybe?

    • Stacey Reply

      I think morning is the best time. The sunlight is gorgeous!

  8. Julie Gazdecki Reply

    How Rain Forest looks like quite an amazing place to explore. We look forward to getting out to see Olympic National Park someday.

  9. Cindy Moore Reply

    The Hoh Rain Forest looks gorgeous! I’d love to hike there.

  10. Lisa, Casey, Barrett Dog Reply

    The rainforest in Olympic National Park looks amazing. This is another opportunity that will go on our list.

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