Back in October of 2020, my husband and I were lucky enough to visit Washington and Oregon! We have been dreaming of a Pacific Northwest road trip for over four years now. It was actually our original honeymoon plan before we realized we didn’t have enough time to make it happen. This area is absolutely breathtaking and every day we explored somewhere completely different.
We started in Seattle, went hiking in the mountains, explored a rocky beach, walked through the rainforest, and saw a lighthouse! Surprisingly, that was all on the first two and half days on our trip! We packed so much into our week in the PNW, that I am breaking it down into three blog posts filled with some of my favorite photos and stories!
We arrived in Seattle in the morning and had plans to meet up with one of my good friends, who was also a bridesmaid from my wedding, to go hiking! She moved out to Seattle after I got married and I have only seen her a few times since my wedding! When we were planning this trip, the first thing I did was see if she was available. Not only was she open to meet up, but she also planned a perfect first day of hiking for us. We landed at the airport, got our bags and stopped for groceries for the week.
Once that was all done we drove out of the city and had our first experience with rough mountain roads. Good thing my husband rented a big SUV for the week! It was lightly raining when we met at the trailhead to begin our hike. As we chatted for hours along the path, we started to realize it was raining harder and harder. By the time we made it back to the cars, the path had a stream of water flowing down it! We had an amazing time catching up and getting ideas of places to visit while we were in the area. After a quick change of clothes and being glad we packed a few towels, we were off to Seattle again to check in to our hotel for the night.
This was our first full day in Washington! We had a rough plan for the day that would take use from Seattle to the far side of the Olympic Peninsula. We took a ferry across to the peninsula which was really interesting! The ferry is big enough that the cars drive right on and it takes you to the other side. First up, we made a stop to explore a beach and lighthouse. I personally love lighthouses and will go out of my way to see them! It was our first time seeing a PNW beach filled with drift wood that washed ashore!
We left the light house and drove to Port Angeles before heading up to Hurricane Ridge. Port Angeles is at sea level and by the time we reached the visitor center at Hurricane Ridge we were at 5,242 feet. The views from the visitor center parking lot were amazing!
However, we had a hike planned that would take us even higher. My husband had researched this hike and saw that it was a moderate, family-friendly three mile hike. Now what he didn’t consider was the almost 800 feet of elevation gain during the first 1.5 miles! We are from Fargo, ND were there is no elevation gain anywhere. It was a struggle to get up the path at some points and I was thankful to have my camera to use as an excuse to make many stops along the way!
At one point my husband spotted little dots moving up the mountain. They were so far in the distance that I had to take a photo and zoom in to see that they were people! I was a bit worried at this point because I am not the best with heights. I actually don’t mind the height, but I am deathly afraid of falling from the height. So to see the dots of people on what look like a small ridge, had me second guessing our hike. I think I even said to my husband that there was no way I was going up that far.
However, if I would have just looked to the left in this photo along the tree line, I would have seen that the paved pathed continued into that section of the hike! I can handle paved paths with no drop offs on either side! Of course, the views of the top made it all worth it as well!
Are you curious how we take photos together on our trip without carrying a tri-pod? I take a photo of Casey and then he takes a photo of me and I photoshop the two together! It’s much quicker and safer than asking a stranger to help, especially during a pandemic.
We had big plans for this first full day, but we didn’t end up fitting it all in! After hiking Hurricane Ridge, we planned to drive to Lake Crescent for another short hike and then make it to the Pacific Ocean for the sunset. However, the “moderate” hike took a little longer than we planned. By the time we made it down the Mountain and to Crescent Lake, the sun was starting to set. We decided skipping the short hike in the woods would be a good idea since we didn’t want to be out hiking at dark. We drove by the lake and found a few spots to stop along the way!
We didn’t make it to the ocean in time for the sunset on Day 2, so we decided to get up early to hike on Rialto Beach at sunrise. It was the perfect Pacific Ocean beach for us to start at! The beach had drift wood, tall trees, plenty of rocks, and large rocks and land forms out in the water. It was exactly what we pictured when we thought of PNW beaches!
We started walking down the beach with a goal to make it a mile down the beach before turning around. However, the tide was coming in faster than we expected and we decided to turn around. The mountains were making me nervous the day before and the ocean was making my husband nervous on this day! We had a great time exploring the beach and watching the sky change as the sun continued to rise. After awhile, we packed up and were off to the rain forest!
The Hoh Rainforest was one of those places we didn’t plan before our trip. We were looking up spots to stop on our first day of our trip and we stumbled upon the rainforest. It was a little out of our way, but I am very glad we made time for it! It may have been my favorite spot on the trip. The Hoh Rainforest is not like anything else I have ever seen. I visited the rainforest in Puerto Rico before, but this one is very different. Every inch of the rainforest is covered in green. From moss to leaves, to small plants, to huge trees, there is green everywhere! Even when a tree falls down, more trees grow out of the trunk. We felt like we were in a Jurassic Park movie!
Some of our favorite stories also came from the rainforest. When we were driving to the main parking lot in the park, we were originally following a car until we stopped at a lookout spot. We got back in the car maybe five minutes and then started driving again. Just down the road we had to stop again because a tree had fallen in the roadway!
In the five minutes between the car in front of us and when we came through, this tree fell in the road. We were stuck without service and no clue what to do. Thankfully more cars started to show up behind us and everyone got out to help. With about ten people working together we were able to break the tree in half and clear the road. It was an amazing group effort and a highlight of our trip!
Once we were at the rainforest parking lot and the trail head to multiple trials, we picked a decent length looped hike. We started walking and at the halfway point we met up with a park ranger with a rainbow umbrella and a paint ball gun. She stopped us and asked if we had seen a bull elk anywhere on the path. We told her no, and my husband asked some more questions. Apparently there was a bull elk somewhere on the path and was charging at hikers! We kept an eye out for the rest of the hike and were a bit jumpy whenever we saw movement. Thankfully we made it back to the car without running into the elk!
We ended our third day by visiting Ruby Beach. It was a relaxing end to the day filled with walking around, skipping rocks in the water, and just enjoying the scenery! After leaving Ruby Beach, we were hoping to catch the sunset further down the coast. But after driving along the coast, we got caught behind the mountains and only made it back to the coast a minute after the sunset. We hoped by day four we would actually see a proper ocean sunset!
Check back later for Part Two of our Pacific Northwest road trip! Up next is a full day of beach hopping, followed by waterfalls and Mt. Hood!
Ready to look back at some of our past trips?
Alecs Kay Photography is a Wedding & Portrait Photographer in Fargo, ND