Story by Kate Oyer, Blue Star Families Staff

Thanks to Blue Star Parks and the America the Beautiful pass, we took a “framily” (military friends who have become our family) trip to Olympic National Park this summer. (The pass is free for military families! Check it out here.)

Lake Quinault

We only had one short day to explore (which means we have an excuse to go back someday) and we chose to visit the Lake Quinault area, which is a little more than two hours away from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Lake Quinault lies between Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest. If you want to get a glimpse of every aspect of Olympic NP, this is the place to go. In one afternoon, we saw rainforests, waterfalls, creeks, a huge lake, trees taller than the sky, and furry woodland creatures. We did two kid-friendly hikes and both were incredible. I highly recommend this area, especially for families with varying degrees of hiking experience and ability.

In the town of Quinault, there is so much to do! Restaurants, shops, a gas station, water sports, a Ranger Station with park information – they even have lodging options, in case you want to spend more than one day in the area. There is trailhead parking every few hundred feet and a road that goes all the way around the lake, making it easy to explore the entire area.

Rain Forest Nature Trail

The Rain Forest Nature Trail is a great place to start. The parking area is small, so try to get there early. Along the easy trail, there are plaques explaining different parts of the rainforest ecosystem. We learned about nurse logs, flying squirrels, different trees that live in the area – it was a great educational way to start our adventure, especially for the kids.

Falls Creek Loop

The Falls Creek Loop is a little more strenuous than the Rain Forest Trail but still very easy for the whole family. Trust me, the waterfall is worth it! The pictures speak for themselves.

We had an amazing day at Olympic National Park! We can’t wait to go back.   Our nation is so fortunate to have protected public lands that provide families with healthy outdoor activities – and this visit was free for our military families! Thank you to those who ensure that our national parks, monuments, and public lands have the funding they need to serve the public and that our public lands remain protected and available for future generations.