As I finished up the Northwest Passage, I wondered how I could possibly top that ride and scenery. So, I stopped in at Hells Canyon Harley-Davidson before leaving Idaho for some local intel on lodging and routes. Continuing on US-12, I crossed the state border into Washington and overnighted in Dayton. It was almost jarring how abruptly the landscape changed from lush alpine forests, to rocky creeks, to brown, dry brush hills the closer I got to the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountain Range. Once I made the transition to the western side though, WOW!
I hadn’t really planned on going into Mt. Rainier National Park on what was an already 400+ mile travel day. But once I saw the views and realized it would only add an extra hour to my day to squeeze in a super twisty ride up to the Mt. Rainier Longmire Visitor Center area for lunch and a National Parks passport stamp, I made it happen! I rode the wonderfully scenic and winding Paradise Road up to Longmire Museum and then had lunch at the National Park Inn Cafe. I stopped at a few scenic overlooks on my way back out on Paradise Road, but I will definitely have to add Mt. Rainier National Park to the list of parks to revisit since I short-changed it on this trip.
It was late evening by the time I arrived at my final destination for the day- Sol duc Hot Springs Resortin Olympic National Park. I had made a reservation for a cabin, instead of a campsite, months ago, when I figured I’d need a break by now from the camper! That foresight ended up being quite fortuitous now that I no longer had the camper! I didn’t realize when I made the reservations, however, that the “resort” was built on legit natural hot springs! The actual resort only lasted a few years (1910-1912) before catching fire and burning to the ground, but there are now a handful of cabins, a campground, and a few community hot tubs and a swimming pool that corral the geothermally heated water.
The Olympic Peninsula has a staggering array of biological diversity. From coast, to forest, to mountain ecosystems, Olympic National Park has it all! Staying at Sol duc Hot Springs positioned me right in the middle of the northern part of the peninsula- perfect for exploring the mountains one day and the Pacific coastline another.
According to travel maps, it’s only about 3200 miles to travel cross-country from Bar Harbor, Maine to Rialto Beach, Washington, but I took 7500 miles to cover that distance 🙂 I definitely took the scenic route!