Under the Stars near Seattle

Olympic Peninsula: Sol Duc Campground
  |  Gorp.com
Directions : Take the ferry across the sound, drive to Port Angeles, continue 30 miles west on U.S. 101 to Soleduck River Road, and continue 14 miles south to the campground.
Travel Time : 2 1/2 hours.
Information : Olympic National Park (360) 452-4501.
Reservations : Not accepted.
Fee : $12.
Open : Year round.

There aren't too many inducements that can get me to spend a weekend at a big, popular national park campground. Silence and solitude are usually in pretty short supply in such campgrounds. However, Olympic National Park has one moderately large campground where I can overlook the RVs and generators and family fights. What could possibly entice me to overlook such stress-inducing factors? The stress-reducing benefits of Sol Duc Hot Springs, of course.

Now, don't get the idea that these are rustic, gravel bottom pools hidden away in the woods. No, these are fully developed hot springs, complete with a big swimming pool, several soaking tubs, a restaurants, and even a few cabins. Yes, there are crowds of people, but still, you can't beat the feel of those waters after a long hike.

The campground itself is set on the banks of the Soleduck River beneath huge old Doug firs and western red cedars and is all mossy and damp and dark, sort of the quintessential Olympic Peninsula lowland campground. The favorite day hike in the area is up to Soleduck Falls, which can be reached either from a trail that starts at the campground or from the end of the road a few miles away. A 6-mile loop trail circles past the falls and a couple of small lakes. This loop also connects to other trails that head deep into the park, if you happen to want to do some backpacking.


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