The Hoh Rainforest is one of the prominent attractions in Olympic National Park in Washington state. Though not the only rainforest in the park, it is the most accessible and most popular, though still a few hours’ driving distance from the other major parts of the park due to there only being a few main roads that cut through the peninsula. We visited while at Mora Campground near Forks, WA, from which it took an hour and a half to drive there each way.
The Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest and best examples of a temperate rainforest in the United States at twenty-four square miles, which is what makes it so special. In the already stereotypically rainy Pacific Northwest, it gets some of the most rainfall in the area, at twelve to fourteen feet per year! This is what stimulates the growth of such a lush, moss-covered environment that blankets the entire ground. It is also why fallen trees can still support the life of another tree once they have already died – truly amazing!
The trails through the Hoh are very short and easily navigable. The Hall of Mosses Trail is 0.8 miles round trip and the Spruce Nature Trail is 1.2 miles round trip, and both intersect one another. There is also the 17.3 mile Hoh River Trail to Glacier Meadows, for those who like to backpack.
We only did the former two short hikes, but they adequately helped us get a feel for the rainforest, as did the drive in through moss covered forest. We visited on an overcast day, though were told that it is best experienced in the actual rain.
Though the temperature was in the 60s (F) and we did not see too many tropical climate animals that one would envision seeing in a Central American rainforest, it certainly did feel like a unique environment for the United States!
To be perfectly honest, the forests in the rest of Olympic National Park appeared fairly similar to the Hoh to us, with lush undergrowth and a good amount of moss, but Hoh was certainly a better example. Once known as being home to the Hoh tribe, and for being a logging and briefly, oil exploration area, we should all be grateful that it is now preserved in all of its green and mysterious glory!