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Explore Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park

Veterans join active-duty members in receiving free lifetime national park access

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In case you missed it, a recent announcement stated that starting on Veterans Day, Gold Star Families and veterans will join active-duty service members and their dependents in receiving lifetime free entry into National Parks. With this recent announcement we thought this would be the perfect time to introduce or reintroduce you to Washington's National Parks. We start our quest with Olympic National Park, specifically exploring the Hoh Rainforest portion of the park. 

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Located on the westside of Olympic National Park, a little less than 175 miles from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, this temperate rainforest has a yearly rainfall average of 140 inches per year, which results in a beautifully lush and green canopy of coniferous and deciduous species. With the abundance of both plants and animal species and the pure beauty that lies in the rainforest, this area is one of Olympic National Parks most popular spots to visit. 

When arriving, the first stop you will want to make is at the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center. It's important to note that currently the center is operating in its off-season hours, meaning it's open Friday-Sunday. Starting January through early March the visitor center will be completely closed. It's important to always check the hours of the visitor center prior to visiting, as they can continuously change depending on the season. However, if open when you plan your visit, this stop will be the perfect opportunity to pick up any maps, or gather any additional information for your time at the park. The visitor center is also the starting point for various trail options within the park.

Two of the trail options from the visitor center are relatively easy and will allow you to really soak in the surroundings of the rainforest. The first is a .8 mile loop trail called The Hall of Mosses Trail. This loop trail will take visitors through old growth forests and also features an abundance of maple trees draped with club moss. The next trail is the Spruce Nature Trail, which is slightly longer at 1.2 miles. This trail runs parallel to Taft Creek and the Hoh River and winds through both old growth and new growth forests. 

The park offers various other trails at all different levels, ranging from .8 miles all the way up to 18.7 miles depending on skill level. 

While the trip to the rainforest is possible in a day, at about three and a half hours each way it would be a very long day. If you're not up for that, there are plenty of lodging options in the surrounding area. Onsite there are multiple year-round campsites available, so if you have an RV or are brave enough to endure a possibly cold and rainy night, this is always an option. Otherwise another option, if you're comfortable, is booking a stay at Lake Quinault Lodge. While the lodge is about 70 miles outside the park, it will still allow for a much more manageable drive. Before booking a stay, it's important to visit their website to ensure you have a full understanding of what's operating under COVID-19 restrictions. For an even more manageable drive, or if you just consider yourself an Edward and Bella fan, Forks, Washington is located about 30 miles outside the park and has both hotels and Airbnb options available. 

For all travel during these times, it's important to closely monitor any COVID-19 restrictions, or changing regulations to ensure you're safely traveling and visiting the Hoh Rainforest in the Olympic National Park. 

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