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Enjoy the rugged, stark beauty of Washington state's Olympic National Park

By Loren Elliott, Times Staff Writer
LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Children wade in the estuary of Kalaloch Creek in front of Kalaloch Lodge.

PORT ANGELES, Wash.

Few places in the world are as rugged and starkly beautiful as Washington state's Olympic National Park.

Only a few hours west of downtown Seattle, the Olympic Peninsula feels worlds away. Temperate rain forest gives way to menacing coastline, with driftwood graveyards and the Pacific Ocean's snarling waves. Rivers like the Hoh, turquoise due to its glacial source, weave through a wilderness wonderland.

Olympic National Park is a dream for hikers, campers and photographers. Elk, deer, sea otters and bald eagles are likely sights. You can backpack the coast or venture into the high country near Mount Olympus. If carrying your food and sleeping in a tent isn't quite your style, top-notch accommodations such as Kalaloch Lodge provide comfort near the wilderness.

Easy hikes, such as the 1.8 miles round trip to Marymere Falls, offer stunning views for those not sure about venturing deep into the woods. Just driving Highway 101 from Kalaloch Lodge to Lake Crescent provides incredible scenery.

The Grand Canyon may show up in more Instagram feeds, but Olympic is undoubtedly one of America's most stunning parks.