Of all the US national parks, the most diversified in character and climate is found in Washington State. With nearly a million acres spanning elevations from sea level to over 7,900 feet, Olympic National Park offers a stunning range of photographic subjects. From pristine coastlines with sea stacks, pebble beaches and tide pools, to mossy old-growth rain forests, waterfalls, glacially-carved lakes, and alpine meadows with mountainous backdrops—all offer photo opportunities in the swiftly shifting light and weather patterns of the Pacific Northwest. The western side of the park has the wettest climate in the continental US, soaking under nearly 12 feet of precipitation annually. But amazingly, the northeastern side is the driest part of the Pacific Coast outside of southern California.
"This park is amazing with beautiful waterfalls, rain forest, sunrise and sunsets on different beaches, wildlife, and the unexpected burst of colors in the sky after a thunderstorm. I love the beautiful lavender fields."
Countless art-calendar photographs of deer browsing in flower-carpeted meadows have been taken in this park! Olympic marmots, denizens of these same meadows, offer comic relief and excellent photo subjects. At Hurricane Ridge, sweeping panoramas are punctuated with stately alpine firs whose tangled roots are home to a marauding band of tourist-acclimated ground squirrels. Much of the wildlife in this exceptional park is remarkably unwary—including Clark’s nutcrackers, gray and Steller’s jays, and even mountain goats.
The western side of Olympic National Park is part of the only temperate rain forest in the northern hemisphere and the exuberant growth of the vegetation reflects this factor. The Hoh Rain Forest protection area was established in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after his visit to the tract. Moss-draped bigleaf maples, towering Sitka spruce, hemlocks, Douglas firs and verdant fern hollows remain as FDR would have seen them and are exciting photo subjects. Easy beach access allows us to explore some of the rich tidal pools and dramatic sea stacks of the rugged coast.
Such diversity is the basis for five full days of photography as we explore a dramatic cross section of habitat of one of Washington State’s finest natural areas. Predictably good weather in July provides an excellent window of opportunity to capture the amazing diversity Olympic National Park offers.
Read more about this trip in Todd Pierce's 2016 Trip Report.
Day 1 (Jul 8)
Participants fly to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and meet the leader at the airport in the afternoon. We drive to Port Angeles in time to check into our hotel, enjoy dinner and prepare for the week ahead. (D)
Following an early morning shoot at a lavender farm near Port Angeles, we make our way to the Pacific coast, stopping to photograph at locations such as Lake Crescent, Marymere Falls and the Sol Duc River. We arrive at our classic Northwest-style lodge in time to settle in and for a sunset shoot on one of the most scenic coastlines of the Pacific Northwest. (BLD)
We photograph the panoramas and details of the park’s west coast at both sunrise and sunset, and capture iconic images of the lichen and moss-draped temperate Hoh Rain Forest. We work our way back to Port Angeles on the afternoon of Day 4, stopping at scenic locations along the way. Food options are limited in this area, and we may have box lunches and picnics to maximize our time in the field. (BLD)
We fill the next two days by taking advantage of the best light and weather in specific areas of Olympic National Park. Much of our time is spent at the higher elevations around Hurricane Ridge, where we find alpine meadows with both wildflowers and wildlife set against dramatic mountain backdrops. At sunset, stunning views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island and Mount Baker offer opportunities for graphic images framed by forest silhouettes. Other locations include the picturesque Sol Duc Falls, and the rocky shore and tide pools of Salt Creek Recreation Area. (BLD)
Day 7 (Jul 14)
After a hearty breakfast, we return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport today for flights home. Please schedule your flight departures for no earlier than 2 PM. (B)
I live in Washington and wanted to know more about the state. Photo tours of the state are a wonderful way to gain knowledge, understanding and outdoor enjoyment of this fantastic place.
Exploring a rain forest, strolling along a beach, hiking to a waterfall, watching the sun set beyond mountain peaks…and that’s just one day in the Olympics!