Zach A.

Ellensburg, WA

Joined July 2017

Graduate student and professional archaeologist based in Ellensburg, Washington. Looking for the next great getaway!

If You like Riverside Swimming holes This is Your Spot!

This "backcountry" campsite is only 2.6 miles up the North Fork Quinault River trail and man it is worth it, especially on a hot summer day. There are at least 6-7 established spots along the west bank of the river that are either in the forest or out along the gravel bar, each one had a fire pit and a few even had stump benches.

There are operational bear wires here but there is no privy (at least that I could find) so bring your trowel! By far the best part of this site though is the swimming holes. There is one that is directly out from the camp sign and is a slow-moving eddy that is at least 4 feet deep in the middle of summer, perfect to cool off in. Also upriver a bit and on the other side is a nice sandy beach and a huge calm pool that would be perfect lounging spot as long as the water isn't too high to cross. 

This is an excellent spot to try to ake it to if you are going further into the backcountry but spent most of your day driving. I would recommend this over North Fork campground if you have an option, it will not disappoint!

Pretty Lakeside camping with a Beach!

This campsite is fairly similar to Willaby just further up the lake and closer to Quinault Lodge and the mercantile across the street. Great place to spend the weekend out on the south shore of Lake Quinault and has all the amenities (other than showers) that you could ever ask for while camping.

Saw a few water spouts and at least one vault toilet. It's a bit smaller than Willaby but it seems to have a few walk-in sites that were across a small bridge. You can also literally walk down to the Lake Quinault Lodge and mercantile if you forget anything which is always a plus!

Standard Forest Service fee of $25 a night and you can take your pick of spots that are close to the Lake or further back in the shade of the rainforest. There are a few trails that are within walking distance and plenty that are a drive further up the river valley including Graves Creek and North Fork Quinault. Definitely a great place to spend a few days!

Lakeside camping, gets crowded in the summer

This beautiful lakeside camping spot is perfect for a weekend at Lake Quinault! There are plenty of spots and although it probably fills up in the summer it would appear you can reserve the sites (saw notes on sites). 

There is water as well as at least one vault toilet that I saw, you are pretty close to the mercantile in Quinault so if you forget anything you can make a quick drive down the road for necessities. There's also a boat launch and a pretty great beach down towards the water (see my video) that gets you right out onto the lake.

IT's $25 a night here which is pretty fair for lakeside camping with basically all the things you need for a great time out on Lake Quinault. Also, check out the rainforest trail to see some spectacular old growth or drive upriver to do some pretty epic day hikes!

Lakeside Walk-In sites

This 6 site campground is walk-ins only. On the south shore of Lake Quinault. It was full when I was there so couldn't get any photos of the tent sites but they seemed pretty standard with gravel footprints, picnic benches and fire pits.

 There's a pit toilet on-site and extra parking. It looks like $25 per night and there is lakefront access to Lake Quinault, which is always a plus. This is a good spot if Falls Creek and Willaby are full and you don't have time or the desire to travel way upriver to Graves Creek or North Fork campgrounds. In my opinion, it's a little steep for a tent-only site but then again the view is worth a million dollars!

Private Spot to Stop for the Night

This DNR managed land is the perfect stopping point for you if your looking for a cheap and easy spot directly off Highway 101 and don't mind staying too close to the highway. The 18 or so spots are pretty well hidden within the trees so you are not on top of your neighbor as well as being tucked back from the road through the campground. 

As far as facilities go I only saw one vault toilet but there may be another somewhere within the park. There's a trail that takes you down to Bear Creek at the south end of the campground and a few spots that have a partial view of the ravine down below. 

By far the biggest draw is the fact that you only really need a Discovery Pass to camp here, which is only $30 for the year and essentially pays for itself with two nights at any State-managed land. Beware though that this basically free camping can draw some sketchy people and if there isn't a camp host around I wouldn't leave any valuables out of your car (Iknow from experience) but most campgrounds do have host in the summer months. Added bonus here is the Hungry Bear restaurant is literally right next door so you can eat out if you get sick of camp cooking.

Free camping (almost) on the Hoh River!

This is another solid spot directly off Highway 101 that is managed By Washington DNR and only requires a Discovery Pass ($30 annually) to stay at! Set pretty close to Highway 101 a mile or so south of the turnoff to the Hoh Rainforest this is a much better bet than actually staying at the campground within the rainforest. If you're lucky you can snag one of the few spots right along the slow, cold and deep Hoh River and have a perfect view from your tent or trailer. Other spots are higher and away from the river but still settled in the trees of the campground. 

I only saw one vault toilet there but there is a second section of the campground I didn't look at that may also have a toilet. There's a self-registration station at the entrance and a handicapped-accessible spot. I wouldn't take giant RV's down to this campground but it can accommodate smaller pull-behind trailers. 

This is really an amazing spot and I'm sure it fills up during the summer. Beware though that this basically free camping can draw some sketchy people and if there isn't a camp host around I wouldn't leave any valuables out of your car(Iknow from experience) but most campgrounds do have host in the summer months.

Small, But with Plenty of Rainforest Solitude

Set far enough away from civilization this small frontcountry campground is well-hidden in the mature rainforest along the Quinault River. There are only about 10 spots but if you are looking to spend one night before going into the backcountry or want to make a basecamp for daily hikes this is a good option. I'm sure this place fills up in the summer so check the NPS website for more information as I don't think they take reservations!

All of the sites are pretty close to the main road through camp so unless you park your car in front of your camp you don't have a ton of privacy. Also the only facilities are port-a-potties at the end of the camp. There are much prettier spots if you are willing to hike up either the North Fork trail or Three Lakes trail. 

I did see (two!) black bears on the road when I was out there so be pretty wary of where your leaving your food unless you want a visit from Yogi! Also rangers will make the rounds there at least once a day so if you are worried about being too far out do not worry. All in all a perfectly utilitarian spot away from the Quinault River in the woods!

Better option for solitude!

Happy Four is an under-utilized campground in the backcountry of the Hoh River Trail. It's confusingly more like 6 miles from the trailhead, past the wildly popular 5-mile Island campground.  This is a good option for people who make it to the trailhead by early afternoon and can rack up the miles along the flat Hoh River trail. It's far enough in the backcountry that you aren't competing with day hikers for trail space. 

I couldn't find the privy here but they are mapped to exist, the bear wires are somewhat hard to find because there's no sign pointing you there and there's so many trails crisscrossing the campground. The trail is a little hard to find from the main Hoh River Trail but if you see the shelter you know you're close!

The campground is far enough off the trailhead that you won't get much trail noise and there's enough vegetation between sites that you won't necessarily see your neighbor. It's still close enough to the trailhead that you won't be by yourself but most people tend to stop at 5-Mile Island so things are a little quieter here.

Solitude and views for days!

Are you looking for total solitude and hearing elk bugling in the morning as your alarm? Can you really rack up the miles if you have the time? Then Lewis Meadows is a great spot. Nearly 12 miles from the Hoh River trailhead getting here in one day is a journey but totally worth it, especially in the busy summer months where other campground along the Hoh River are full of people. Many stop at Olympus Guard Station so pushing a little further along the trail means you are essentially alone!

This campground might have the nicest group spot, shaded under a massive tree with space for 4-5 tents and a fire ring. The meadow has a few spaces including the stock camp as well as the open-air privy and the bear wires. I opted to go through the woods and camp on the eroding back next to the massive gravel bar on the river. 

This is a great option if Olympus Guard station looks too busy. Backtracking a bit means you can head up over the ridge to Seven Lakes Basin or pushing further up the Hoh River trail leads you to the amazing High Hoh Bridge and up to Blue Glacier (it's an all-day hike). But just being this far out in the backcountry is good enough for most!

Crowded in the summer, party island!

This spot (appropriately 5 miles from the Hoh River trailhead) is a great choice for a day hike or an overnight spot if you have enough time to make it this far into the backcountry before nighfall (if not try Mt. Tom Creek). With that being said this place gets really crowded with overnight campers during the summer so if your idea of solitude is hearing elk bugling in the morning you're better off pushing on. If you have a big group and don't mind seeing your neighbors this spot may be a good bet for you!

Located directly on the river with at least one privy (which probably gets utilized a lot) and directly off the trailhead this campground is just past the point that most day hikers turn around, so you won't have too much trail noise. There's a number of spots both on the side of the river and more than likely across the river on the island itself (although don't cross unless you know what you're doing). All the spots I noticed had fire rings and some had make-shift seats. Like all the spots long the Hoh River Trail there are bear wires here so no bear cans necessary although when I was there reports had come in of a curoius coyote who was stealing food/bags/clothes from the camping area!

Overall you're still going to get an outdoor experience here at 5-mile island, it's just how much solitude you want that will dictate if this is the right campground for you. In my opinion, if you have time pushing for Olympus Guard Station is a better option or stopping at Mt. Tom Creek.

Great easy backcountry spot!

As easy as it is to get to this campground along the Hoh River Trail there are surprisingly few people here, most opt to go a little further up the trail to Five Mile Island or even further to Olympus Guard Station. With that being said the trail is still incredibly crowded this far up with day hikers/large groups/birdwatchers/instagrammers so if you are looking for total solitude you are better off pushing further. With that being said once the day hikers leave there are few people that opt to stay here overnight. 

Set only about 2 miles from the trailhead at the Hoh Visitor Center Mt. Tom Creek has about 6-8 sites scattered across the creek and river, meaning you're always close to a water source. There's a large group site that can probably fit 6-7 tents for big groups (reserve at the WIC in Port Angeles or the Hoh Visitor Center). Make sure you have your permit ready as a ranger may be likely to come by and check on you here. Like all spots along the Hoh River trail there are bear wires here so no need to bring a bear canister!

As this campground is really close to the trail it's pretty easy to get in and out although it makes for a constant human presence. The sites are set far enough apart that you may not see your neighbor (although you may hear them). Mineral Falls is a nice spot to walk up to (only a half-mile back) and the spots along the river make a great place to stop and have a snack!

Solitude with new facilities!

For 2019 The National Park Service upgraded the Olympus Guard Station campsites, mainly in the form of new privys! It's still just as amazing backcountry campground nearly 10 miles into the backcountry of Olympic National Park with tons of spots to choose from and enough space that even in the busy summer months you feel more solitude than in other spots along the Hoh River Trail. 

This is by far the nicest of all backcountry campsites along the Hoh River trail and quite possibly in the entire west side of the interior of the park. Two larger group spots are reservable at either the WIC in Port Angeles or at the Hoh Visitor Center if you're feeling lucky. There are numerous other spots tucked away from the trail in the forest and out on a gravel bar next to the Hoh River. Obviously water is not an issue but bring a filter as even this far in the backcountry its best to filter/boil your water. There are bear wires at the campground (as with all campsites on the Hoh River Trail) so no bear can necessary unless you want your food a little closer to your campsite.

This place gets pretty crowded in the summer but is not as bad as places like 5 mile Island, it's worth the extra effort to make it back here, even if it's just for the night. Good base camp for a day hike up to either Blue Glacier or over the Ridge into Seven Lakes Basin. The trail is fairly flat the entire way and barring any major washouts is pretty easy going. There's usually a summer guard at the station as well if you need any assistance.

Great backcountry spot, long hike in.

This would be a five star review if it wasn't for the fact that Humes Ranch is now about a 9 mile hike from the Madison Falls trailhead, taking much longer to reach than it used to before the floods washed out the road into the Elwha. With that being said the lack of access has mean't wildlife and solitude are much easier to come by in the area. I stayed out at Humes for 3 days and was able to bike all the way to the Whiskey Bend trailhead (although its mostly uphill). Hiking in the 2.3 miles from the trailhead is fairly flat and can be done in less than an hour.

As far as camping goes you have 3-4 spots in an open meadow below the Humes Ranch cabin as well as spots out on the gravel bars past the bear wires and some hidden back in the forest south of the meadow. Bear wires are in good shape, no pit toilet on site so bring a trowel and some TP and although fires are allowed check for fire bans because it was dry when I was there.

Around Humes Ranch are the historic Gold Rush era cabins of Humes and Michael's Cabins, also upriver in the Grand Canyon of the Elwha and downriver is the cool natural whirlpools at Goblins Gate. Wildlife are more present here than before so keep an eye out for Roosevelt Elk as well as Black Bear (hang your food up)

Day use only!

The former Altair campground was damaged by flooding in the winter of 2017 and is now only open to day use in the area. With that being said its a great place to spend the day or wait out a rain storm. As of September 2018 there is still a pit toilet, garbage and recycling cans and picnic tables as well as a shelter on site. With the removal of the bridges currently up this may change how often Altair is serviced by the National Parks Department so check with the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles for current info. Altair is about 2.5 miles from the current trailhead at Madison Falls and is open to foot and bike traffic. If you're looking to camp overnight the closest camp sites within Olympic National Park are Humes Ranch up Whiskey Bend road or Boulder Creek up Hot Springs Road.

Day use only!

The former Altair campground was damaged by flooding in the winter of 2017 and is now only open to day use in the area. With that being said its a great place to spend the day or wait out a rain storm. As of September 2018 there is still a pit toilet, garbage and recycling cans and picnic tables as well as a shelter on site. With the removal of the bridges currently up this may change how often Altair is serviced by the National Parks Department so check with the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles for current info. Altair is about 2.5 miles from the current trailhead at Madison Falls and is open to foot and bike traffic. If you're looking to camp overnight the closest camp sites within Olympic National Park are Humes Ranch up Whiskey Bend road or Boulder Creek up Hot Springs Road.

Campground no longer exists!

Elwha Campground was destroyed by flooding in the winter of 2017. The National Park Service is in the process if dismantling the campground and letting it return to natural forest land. If you are heading into the Elwha either for the day, a quick overnight or as part of the Pacific Northwest Trail the two closest campgrounds are in the backcountry; either Humes Ranch up Whiskey Bend Road or Boulder Creek up Hot Springs Road. Access to these areas is fairly difficult as no future plans for permanent bridges are in place where washouts have occurred. While the Elwha River valley is absolutely gorgeous, it is a mission to get to the upper reaches such as Glines Canyon and further upriver.

Campground no longer exists!

Elwha Campground was destroyed by flooding in the winter of 2017. The National Park Service is in the process if dismantling the campground and letting it return to natural forest land. If you are heading into the Elwha either for the day, a quick overnight or as part of the Pacific Northwest Trail the two closest campgrounds are in the backcountry; either Humes Ranch up Whiskey Bend Road or Boulder Creek up Hot Springs Road. Access to these areas is fairly difficult as no future plans for permanent bridges are in place where washouts have occurred. While the Elwha River valley is absolutely gorgeous, it is a mission to get to the upper reaches such as Glines Canyon and further upriver.

Great for ORV or a quick night stay

Sadie Creek Campground west of Joyce on Highway 112 is perfect for a certain group of people, and not so amazing for another group of people.

If you enjoy Off-Roading or motorized anything this is the spot for you! With six spaces and plenty of parking for your trailer or RV, Sadie Creek has everything you could ask for. Also an extensive system of trails both on the northern and southern end of the highway will give days of riding through heavily wooded (and probably difficult) terrain. Also a great place for equestrians although if your horse spooks easily perhaps not.

If you are a tent camper or enjoy solitude as apposed to the social aspects to the great outdoors I would heavily advise against this campground. It's ok for a quick night's stay if a spot is open but the sites are practically right next to each other and expect to share the space with others that may not be so quiet. I would suggest Lyre River campground 6 miles to the east if that's what you're after.

Although there's no hook-ups there is a pit toilet on site. With a yearly Discovery Pass ($30) the campground is free. You have Murdock Beach down the road which gives great views of the Salish Sea. Closest town would be Joyce 10 miles to the east, with a great general store and through street to Lake Crescent. Multi-use trails run out from the north or south of the campground so great jump-off point for hiking or trail running in the Olympic National Forest.

Quiet, Serene and Great Fishing

Lyre River is a bit of a hidden gem for car campers on a crowded and often expensive Olympic Peninsula. Tucked away from Highway 101 west of Joyce; it's a great place to settle down for a night or two, enjoy some fishing and visit some often overlooked locations on the OP.

As Washington Department of Natural Resources land the campground is free with a Discover Pass (purchased at any outdoor oriented location) and allows for a maximum stay of 7 days at the site. Because it is free and operates on a first come, first serve basis it's pretty full every night in the summertime. I would suggest arriving early (around 9 AM) and trying to swipe a spot when someone leaves, you may have to wait a bit but it's totally worth it. All spots are usually occupied around 11 AM and people are constantly driving through looking for openings.

As far as things to do in the area the main draw is fishing. There's a fishing platform at the southern end of the campground and a number of beaches with deeper pools that trout and salmon like to hang around in. One crusty old-timer said that during runs the river is overflowing with fish, including the highly coveted Steelhead. Around the area places like Murdock Beach gives great views of Canada and the Salish Sea. Joyce has a great museum and general store with a bit of everything. South lies Lake Crescent which has untold number of hiking trails, beaches and amazing views of the Olympic Mountains. The area serves as a great jump-off point for heading west on Highway 101 towards the rainforest or west on Highway 112 to Sekiu and Neah Bay.

Other points to note: Bathrooms (privies) are on site and there's a smaller privy in the southern end of the campground. There's a covered area to gather and a handicapped accessible campsite there as well. Although there are no showers you have the option of taking a bath in the beautiful Lyre River or driving to Salt Creek State Park to use their coin-operated showers.

This is my go-to spot while working out in the area and is great for families, friends or just weary travelers passing through.

Ranger Review: Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel at Hobuck Beach Resort

What is the most Northwestern campground in the lower 48 you ask? Hobuck Beach Resort just west of Neah Bay, Washington is located "where the Earth began" according to the local Makah Tribe. This campground/RV camp/ cabin resort has a little bit of everything for anyone at any price point. Spread over two sites about 3/4 of a mile from each other this is my go-to surf spot to really get away from it all. Found one of the few sunny weekends out on the Washington coast to try out my new Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel.

Campground Review:

For the luxury-minded who enjoy an actual bed and roof over your head 10 cabins are available at the north site in the park and 16 cabins at the south site. Cabins have their own bathrooms and can sleep up to six people, prices change throughout the year so check the website link at the bottom of this review.

For those who's camping experience includes 4-6 wheels there are 8 sites with full hookups at the south site. I have included photos of the campground map to give people a better idea of the layout of the sites.

For the full-on dirtbags and for those who don't require water/electricity there is a beautiful open field to set up shop wherever your heart desires or you can find room. The tent area has no designated sites and operates as a kind of "organized chaos" with people pulling cars over dunes into pits and getting sandwiched in when others arrive, so be aware of where you set camp.

Handy cans are located in various areas around the resort and there is one fully operational bathroom in either area. With that being said there is also only one fully operational shower in either area and it can get crowded/gross depending on the amount of people staying there. Expect to either take an ocean shower or do it at strange hours of the day.

Try to be flexible when making the journey out to Hobuck. Cabins can be reserved (and should be in the summer) but all other sites are on a first come, first serve basis. A use permit is required to camp on tribal land and you can get that at either the store in town or the resort check-in station.

The real draw here is the surf, Hobuck has one of the more consistent sets in Washington and surfers come from all over the state to check out the waves. In the summer and possibly other times of the year there is a rental shack set up by North by Northwest surf that can rent you anything you heart desires. If they are not there check out the main shop in Port Angeles on your way out if you want to rent/buy anything. The surf is pretty safe with really mellow currents most of the year so a great place to learn to surf!

Other things to do include hiking to either Shi Shi beach to the south or Cape Flattery to the north, both are fairly easy and Cape Flattery is mostly a boardwalk to the point. Shi Shi beach allows for camping but a permit is necessary as it is Olympic National Park land. Other than that Neah Bay has a great museum explaining Makah history and the Ozette village site originally located further south. There is also killer seafood you can get either directly from people in their homes or from Washburn's in town as well as day tours and kayak rentals to do some exploring on your own! 4/5 stars, it looks like their setting up to build more facilities in the north site (maybe more showers). If so I would give 5 stars here!

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Makah nation is drug and alcohol free, I'm not sure if that carries over into Hobuck Beach Resort but PLEASE respect their wishes as you are guests on their land.

Check out Hobuck yourself: http://www.hobuckbeachresort.com/

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt I occasionally get products to test in the field, since I spend time outdoors for both work and play this is great for me! This trip I decided to test out the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel.

I was really worried about bringing a solar panel out to one of the grayest and wettest parts of the US but the weather gods had pity upon my soul and gave me clear skies for 3 straight days out at Hobuck Beach.

The Goal Zero Nomad 7 was great! It gave me enough power to keep my tablet, phone and portable batteries powered through the weekend. I was able to set it up on top of my car and tent and keep things charged while I went out to my morning and evening surf sessions. I really liked the kickstand and "solar intensity" indicator on the junction box showing you how much juice you have running to your devices so you can dial in maximum performance.

The construction itself is super rugged, I wasn't worried at all about the constant sea breeze and dew that was ever present out there. It was ready to go right out of the box and is super simple to use, just plug your USB charging device directly in and your good to go! Bonus points for having 2 carabiners included so you can hang the panel off a backpack and charge on the go. I'm definitely bringing this product out in the field for work this summer and any sunny day. 5/5 stars

Check out the product here: https://www.goalzero.com/shop/solar-panels/nomad-7-plus-solar-panel/