The Pacific Northwest

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!

From US-12, I took WA-706 through Mt. Rainier National Park.  The views, and road, were spectacular!
Mt. Rainier from a scenic overlook along WA-706

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.

Scenic overlook along Paradise Road in Mt. Rainier National Park.

It was late evening by the time I arrived at my final destination for the day- Sol duc Hot Springs Resort in 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 three tubs are fed by the hot springs and are maintained at three different temperatures.
My cabin is the one behind the tree.  Great, secluded location, tucked deep into Olympic National Park.  Unfortunately, the comfort of the bed left a lot to be desired, but the cabin was cozy and had a swing right off the front porch.  It was also really convenient to have a restaurant on the grounds since the next closest one was about 30 miles away.

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.

This cross-section of a 650-year-old Douglas fir at the Visitors Center really puts time and history into perspective.  If you zoom in, you’ll see the year 1349 tagged in the center- “tree begins life, Indians live here.”  Imagine all that happened in the universe, between that tag, and the one marking the ring of 1938 when the Olympic National Park was created.
I rode the 17-mile Hurricane Ridge Road up to the Visitors Center overlooking the Olympic Mountain Range.  Here’s how my Butler Motorcycle Map describes this ride:  “Just inside the northern edge of the Olympic National Park is the crown jewel of the peninsula, a tour with everything a rider desires:  tunnels, tight curves, rapid elevation changes, breathtaking scenery and drop offs with no guardrails- it’s exciting riding, both climbing and descending.” 🙂
Stunning view of the Olympic Mountains from the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center. Elevation: 5246 feet.
Between Port Angeles and Sol duc Hot Springs, along US-101, lies Lake Crescent, a glacial lake within Olympic National Park.
Lake Crescent is crystal clear and so blue!
About 150 miles west of Crescent Lake, on the Pacific Ocean coast, lies the infamous tree graveyard of Rialto Beach.  Beyond normal driftwood, these were huge trees! “Deposited by storms, the uprooted, fallen trees, bleached and scoured bare by the fierce ocean winds, appear quite ghostly.” (AtlasObscura).  The way they were stacked upon each other is a testament to the power of waves and wind.
This photo gives you perspective of the enormity of the coastal forest along the beach.  You can see the rock islands, or “sea stacks” off in the distance on the left side of the beach line.  This area is home to the Quileute Tribe, who have lived and hunted in this area for thousands of years. 
Close-up of “sea stacks”
One of the most famous sea stacks:  Hole in the Wall.  It was about a 1.5 mile walk down the beach to Hole in the Wall, but oh so beautiful!
There’s a seemingly permanent haze that hangs over the beach, adding an air of mystery to the whole scene.  As you can see, the beach is rock and pebbles instead of sand…makes for a challenging walk on the beach!

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!

This trip is officially “cross-country.”  I am on the beach of the Pacific Ocean!

Next up…more of the Olympic peninsula!

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