Now looking back to blog about it, it seems like we were out in Washington for waaaay longer than we actually were. From family time at my cousin’s wedding to camping in the beautiful Mount Rainier National Park, maybe I was a little too much from the kids to do a couple more days with me in Olympic National Park.
I mean, I really wanted to take advantage of being out there with so many beautiful parks, but I could already tell it was starting to wear on the kids. (Which in turn, starts wearing down all the adults too, so I guess the joke is on me).
From Mount Rainier, we packed back into the car and drove about 4 hours to another gorgeous park in Washington. Olympic is actually pretty special when it comes to the National Parks as it has a very diverse ecology. From coastline to glaciers to meadows to rainforests, it has a lot going on.
If you didn’t catch it last post:
For those who have so many options available to them, I would highly recommend purchasing a National Parks Annual Pass. The pass itself costs $80, and this gives you unlimited park access (which some parks can charge up to $30 for this), one car entering (this can be anything up to $20 per vehicle), covers 4 people (for those parks that charge per person), and can even discount camping costs at some parks.
Camping was actually HALF off with the pass here, and saved us the $25 vehicle fee on top of that.
Back in the car and looking like the next generation of bloods, these guys are ready to get to the next campsite.
We made a quick stop in the town of Sequim, which was apparently the biggest supplier of lavender fields and farms in the northwest. So much so, apparently they have a festival for it. We arrived in the small town just a day before the festival started and the place was abuzz. More importantly, being a harbor town, it is also known for their seafood, so we took a break to enjoy some food.
Deep fried clam strips and mushrooms from Fudd’s Fish and Chips.
The drive up to the campsite was beautiful, from views of the strait to views of the Lake Crescent, we drove along the northern edge of the park until arriving at our destination in Sol Duc. This area inside Olympic National Park is actually known for their hot springs, and was purposely set to be our end destination for a bit of rest and relaxation before heading back.
Arriving at our next home, the campsite was a little more crowded and noisy than this photo lets on. The sites were less spacious than Mount Rainier, and there was noticeably more people camping here, so it just seemed busier. Luckily the tall trees and bushes provide some cover from the neighbors.
We set up the tents while the kids ran around. With the fire started, we made a pretty delicious dinner of a slab of beef and some roasted corn. After some s’mores for the kiddos, and we were all ready to call it a night and get a bright start on the next day. There are no bear lockers here, so everything was cleaned up and hidden away in the car to deter the wildlife.
Late night comic books by the lantern before bed.
We realized in the morning that we were all victims of a mosquito feast the night before and all had noticeable bug bites. It didn’t stop us from wanting to go out and try a hike one last time with the kids. There was a trail to the Sol Duc Waterfalls not too far from the campsite and it would take us through parts of this mossy wonderland.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, the kids were ready to start the day.
On the hike and playing the “don’t step in the lava” game.
Finding more treasures on the trail.
Feeling a little dwarfed by the old growth forests of the Sol Duc Valley.
One of Evie’s favorite hiking games, “find the mushrooms“. Caution: Please warn your kids not to touch the mushrooms in this game. We’ve played it a couple times now and keeps her pretty motivated during a hike.
Lush and green, the forests in the area get a lot of nutrients from the salmon cascades in the area. Salmon make the trip back here to spawn and when they pass from exhaustion, they fertilize the area.
After breaks, snacks, and games just aren’t cutting it anymore and the troops are getting restless.
Signs of wear on the kids hit before even arriving at the Sol Duc Falls. We were definitely approaching the danger zone for kid meltdowns, and we tried to avoid them as we got to our destination.
Sol Duc Falls, named this way for the “sparkling waters” by the natives in the area.
Climbing down for a closer look.
After a little bit of a break to play with the waterfall, it was time to head back.
Evie was catching more mushrooms on the way back. I also found that when I challenged my godson to a race, it got him a bit more motivated to continue back… but that also meant I had to run a bit of that trail =/
We got back and it was clear that the kids needed food and that we were done with hiking for the rest of the trip. After loading everyone into the car, we drove to Sol Duc’s resort hot springs. Got some lunch at their cafe, and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the waters.
Ready to get off trails and into a pool. After a couple days of getting a little ripe in nature, it was nice to finally get a little craned up.
With everyone looking tired and stressed, Evie took this photo with my camera.
Waiting for lunch while the kids played in the yard area.
Someone was SOOO EXCITED to get in the water! 😀
4 different pools with temps ranging from 75 to 105 kept everyone busy.
One of the lifeguards on duty.
My godson passing the swim test to get the wristband for the deep end.
Amazing views all around the resort.
Back at the campsite as the sun started to set, we were all ready for a big meal.
While waiting for the food to be ready, there was a lot of happy kids being really cute…
Lots of love all around as they prepared for one thing…
… more S’mores!
Stars were all out that night with no cloud in sight. This was our beautiful view from the tents.
This girl is just too photogenic, seriously she could not take a bad photo.
Stopping to check out the beautiful salmon cascades, not too far from the campsite.
Our last day was spent checking out the salmon cascades in the area, where the fish jump in the fall, but still a pretty area to look at without the fish. Then we climbed and climbed on some windy roads to the Hurricane Visitors center for the views of the Olympic Range.
With the windy roads, I find keeping a couple suckers in the bag can help prevent some sick kids. For more tips on what I pack when traveling, check out an article I wrote for TourRadar’s Days to Come.
This folding guide of Washington’s trees and wildflowers was a great pickup out in Mount Rainier National Park. We kept it with us for identifying varieties on the trails and fields.
The black tailed deer were not bothered by us at all and kept on with grazing the fields.
The deer get pretty close up there.
Flower identifying break.
AJ found these jeweled owls in the gift shop and got one for him and Evie to have matching best friend bling… seriously, how sweet was this?
It was a long fun-filled couple days in nature with these guys. After a week on the road, eating camp food, and getting dirty, it was nice to finally head back to Seattle.
Our last day was spent watching the boys play their basketball games, some more cousin playtime, meeting old friends, and some good food. Seattle is always fun, everytime I go. It does seem like I may have overfilled this trip’s itinerary at times, but there’s always time for sleep when you are back fro vacation, right?
Inseparable at this point, she just wanted to sit on the bench with her cousins.
The deliciousness of Ba Bar in Seattle. Vietnamese food, french pastries, and stiff drinks… it’s a good combination.
Catching up with our friend, Frank. I am seriously so jealous of this guy’s travels… and the food he eats.
On the plane back and ready to get home. She has her dino eye mask from the wedding and a notebook to keep her occupied. She ended up drawing a sweet picture of her little cousin Laylah, then on an old drawing of herself she drew in her new best friend owl necklace.