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The Hoh Rainforest is one of the most unique parts of Washington’s Olympic National Park. One of only a handful of temperate rainforests in the country, the Hoh rainforest offers visitors a rare chance to witness the beauty and dense vegetation that are the hallmarks of these unique regions. Over 14 feet of rainfall per year help to create a vibrant canopy of green that supports a diverse and flourishing ecosystem, including a variety of wildlife, vegetation, and a thick layer of moss that coats nearly every part of the rainforest’s surface. Camping in the Hoh Rainforest is a unique experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the moss-draped jungle—to sleep on the soft earth and awake to the shimmering trees, covered in morning dew.
Washington’s Hoh Rainforest is one of the quietest places on earth, so if you’re looking for peace and solitude, camping here delivers.
Find Rainforest Relaxation on a Hoh Rainforest Camping Trip
The Hoh rainforest is one of the most popular places to visit in Olympic National Park. Located in the southwestern edge of the park, the dense rainforest runs along the famous Hoh River, an extremely popular destination for rafting, fly fishing, and hiking. When it comes to Hoh rainforest camping, there are a variety of destinations in or near the lush forest that allow visitors to get an up-close look at the ecology and wildlife in the area.
Its well-connected network of trails and unique biodiversity make it a stellar destination for both the nature-walk types and more extreme hikers and backpackers. The Hoh rainforest is open year-round but is best visited during the summer months (between May and September). During the winter and early spring, the rainforest gets the majority of its annual rainfall, making camping there in the offseason a soggy experience. Despite that, the Hoh rainforest does see relatively consistent traffic throughout the offseason, as visitors who prefer the quieter crowds in Olympic National Park make their rounds to the local natural areas.
Start your Hoh Rainforest excursion at the visitors center, where rangers and experts on staff can give you detailed information on the rainforest as well as provide you with some ideas on what to do during your stay.
For visitors interested in an easier way to explore the Hoh forest, there are two short nature trails located near the visitor center. The Hall of Mosses Trail is .8 miles long and offers views and unique information points that give background and detail on the Hoh rainforest and its local inhabitants. The Spruce Nature Trail is 1.2 miles round-trip and provides a slightly more in-depth look at the rainforest, including a trek through the huge, old-growth forest that makes up a large part of the Hoh rainforest’s ecosystem. Both of the nature trails are relatively flat paths that are perfect for families with small children or those with mobility needs.
More popular still is the Hoh River Trail. At 17.4 miles long, it serves both backpackers and day-hikers throughout the summer months. The Hoh River Trail is an extremely popular way to see much of what Olympic National Park has to offer, including the rainforest, as it winds its way from the dense forest all the way to Glacier Meadows, located at 4,300 feet in elevation. While fairly popular throughout the year, the trail sees the bulk of its traffic in the late summer months, between June and September, when the snow has melted off of the higher elevations and the rainforest is in full growth.
The trail is relatively flat for the first 13 miles (the final 4 miles are steep, as they climb to Glacier Meadows), making it a popular destination for campers in the Hoh rainforest seeking to get a taste for one of the major nature paths in the region. Although long, the trail itself can be considered an easy to moderate backpacking or hiking trail, as it is both well-marked and generally clear of debris. Just don’t forget your rain jacket!
Where to Camp Around the Hoh Rainforest
The Hoh Rainforest Campground is the only campground in the park that’s actually located within the rainforest. While it’s a first-come, first-served campground, the 78 campsites at this location fill up fast almost every weekend that the campground is open, especially due to the campground’s proximity to the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center and the Ranger Station. While there are no showers at this campground, there are flush toilets and potable water available to all guests. Most visitors take advantage of the optimal trails in and around the campground to explore the lush Hoh rainforest.
“If you are staying overnight at Hoh rainforest, this campground delivers a magical experience. Loop A offers more open camping with less tree cover. As you move to loops B and C you enter the forest and get to open your tent door to a view out of a fairy tale or perhaps Jurassic Park depending on your perspective with the dangling moss and we’ll established forest…Loved our overnight and would recommend if you want to spend a day hiking the Hoh river trail.” –The Dyrt camper Emily C.
Oxbow is another excellent Hoh rainforest camping location, large-in-part because its location on the outer edge of both the Hoh rainforest and Olympic National Park. The campground itself sits by the titular oxbow kink in the Hoh River, and offers stunning views and access to trails throughout the region. Just off Highway 101 between milepost 176 and 177 are eight first-come, first-served tent and RV sites shaded by spruce and cedar trees. It’s free to camp here, as long as you have a Discover Pass issued by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
The water flowing by is glacier-fed and quite cold, and a brilliant teal color that has to be seen to be believed. A convenient kayak and canoe launch will get you right in the middle of that otherworldly milky churn. The Hoh River is Class II-III, though, so exercise caution if you do paddle. Depending on the season, this can be a great spot to watch the salmon spawn, too. Fishermen have been known to flock here for easy access to chinook and steelhead.
One of the most amazing aspects of The Hoh Rainforest is that it sits along the pacific coast, creating an awe-inspiring dichotomy of mossy covered evergreens and fresh coastal air. While technically on the outside of the Hoh Rainforest, This spot offers all the gear you need and a drive in experience so that you can feel the magic of the Hoh Rainforest without embarking on a multi-day backpack! This campsite captures the beauty of the Hoh Rainforest perfectly while creating a slightly more upscale experience for those who fear their tents flooding in the common downpours. Sleep in wood-paneled campers, hang out by the fire, in the hammock, or take a walk along the beach.
Both beginning and experienced backpackers alike will find lots to enjoy on this trail that is—you guessed it—five miles from Hoh Campground and the Hoh Trail. Five Mile Island sits at the center of a split in the Hoh River, but this campground isn’t on the island itself. Instead, it overlooks it, offering a peaceful respite from the longer Hoh River Trail.
That access to one of the major trails in the area makes it easy enough to hike from one campground to the other for a multi-day backpacking trip, or to see as much as possible of Olympic National Park rainforests in a weekend. You’ll see a mix of weekend backpackers at Five Mile Island, along with hikers in the middle of longer treks through the Olympic National Park rainforest.
“It’s no problem finding a level tent pad, there are bear wires, and a pit toilet. This camp is very easy to reach so there are plenty of inexperienced campers around, but there are also those that are on their way to trek deep into the park. If you are looking for a place to take the family this can be great, but if you are looking for a true nature experience or isolated camp, this is not for you.” —The Dyrt Camper Katie I.
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