La Push, Olympic Peninsula, Washington – Part 4

Part 4 – Shi Shi Beach and Sol Duc Hot Springs in Olympic National Park

It’s time to wrap up our road trip to the Olympic Peninsula.  We had a memorable ten day vacation and new exploring opportunities two being Shi Shi Beach and Sol Duc Hot Springs.  Read Part 1, Part2, and Part 3 to experience the whole adventure.

I was so excited to hike to Shi Shi Beach.  I have always heard such great things and I wanted to see the beauty with my own eyes.  It is more out of the way than most other beaches in Washington and we just haven’t spent much time in that part of the peninsula.  We have traveled to Cape Flattery a few times, but never had enough time necessary for Shi Shi Beach.

On our way to the trailhead, we stopped at the Makah Cultural & Research Center to buy a Makah Recreation pass.  Oh. My. Gosh.  Makah MuseumI could have spent all day here imagining life as it once was.  I have a huge fascination with Native American life and culture and this museum features wonderful exhibits and learning opportunities as the nation’s only repository for pre-contact archaeological discoveries.  The museum is filled with archaeological finds from the Ozette dig, which is regarded as one of the most significant archaeological finds of North America.  After 11 years of continual excavation by Washington State University, the Ozette dig was closed in 1981.  Over 55,000 artifacts were recovered from this dig.

My favorite exhibit was the full-sized longhouse.  As I crossed over the threshold into the longhouse, awe spread through me as I traveled in time.  The life and history of this Makah legacy is truly remarkable.  Another memorable exhibit was the hollowed out cedar whaling vessels.  I can not imagine the skill and strength the people had to capture a massive whale and safely return with their catch.  I wish I could share photos, but photography was prohibited.

The magic of this tiny slice of the peninsula continued as we started our hike to Shi Shi Beach.  The two mile hike starts out with tall, skinny trees, a toothpick forest, if you will.  Toothpick trees SnakeSuddenly, the forest ends and you walk through an area that must have been logged and we came across our second snake of the trip.  As quickly as the forest went, it starts again, this time old growth forest.  Beautiful, lush old growth forest.  The trail so far was upon a nice boardwalk and I thought, wow, what a great trail, so maintained!  Then the boardwalk ends and that’s when the mud starts.  And I don’t mean a puddle we have to walk around.  I mean we were wadding through ankle deep, sticky, sloppy mud for at least a mile.  One way.  My boys LOVED it.  It was so muddy, that when we returned to the truck to leave later that day, I took one of my kid’s jeans and just threw them away!  The hike ends as you traverse down a very steep bluff toward the ocean.  This is the only elevation you encounter, otherwise the trail is flat.

Shi Shi Beach is beautiful.  It is a long, wide sandy beach.  Shi Shi Cove 3To the south is the Point of Arches.  We headed north and crossed a small headland and found a secluded beach cove brimming with tide pools and sea life.  We spent a lot of time here in the cove exploring and eating a late lunch.  My husband could have beachcombed here all day.  He still wants to find an antique glass buoy.  Too soon it was time to start heading back.  Our drive back to La Push and the Quileute Oceanside Resort was a good two hours away.

The next day the rains had returned.  We decided to drive to the Sol Duc Hot Spring Resort and try to reclaim the day by relaxing in the natural hot springs.  To my surprise, The Sol Duc Resort was originally built in 1912.  The water is naturally heated when the water mingles with the gases from the cooling volcanic rocks.  The heated mineral water is pumped into three soaking pools.  The pool temperatures are regulated by mixing the hot mineral water with cooler “regular” water as a necessity.  The mineral water would be too hot otherwise.  The three pool temperatures are approximately 99F, 101F, and 104F.  In addition, the resort hosts a much larger unheated, chlorinated, fresh water pool.

My hope was that the rain would keep all the folks away from the springs and we could enjoy a warm soak.  Sol Duc Hot Springs ResortI guess everyone else was thinking the same thing.  It was too crowed for my liking and there was not a suitable covered area to keep your towels and things dry from the rain.  I also did not care for the concrete, unnatural look of the hot spring pools.  That combined with the cool air temps, my tolerance was very short.  I really don’t like reporting negative feedback, but I will likely not return to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.  (Photo Source: gonw.about.com)

The environment surrounding the resort is stunning, more lush, green forest where the Sol Duc River winds its way down heading north eventually taking a left turn.  sol ducThe Sol Duc River combines with the Bogachiel River to form the Quillayute River which empties into the Pacific Ocean near La Push.  Quite an amazing river.  Sol Duc is also one of the peninsula’s only rivers that supports all five of the major species of salmon.

The last day of our trip we spent relaxing with warm, sunny skies at First Beach and our camp site at Quileute Oceanside Resort.  It was the perfect ending for an amazing family vacation.  My oldest perfected his skim boarding form and my other two boys jumped waves and built sand castles.

Sadly, our vacation came to an end and it was time to return to the real world.  We thoroughly enjoyed our road trip once again to the Olympic Peninsula.  It truly is a wild and untamed environment and I love every inch.  I look forward to our time there again next year.  New adventures.  New memories.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment below.

Things to help you plan:

  1. Plan a whole day for Shi Shi Beach and Makah Museum.
  2. To park at Shi Shi Beach, purchase a Makah Recreation Pass for $10 at the Museum.
  3. Wear gaiters to hike in or shorts!
  4. Know the tides when exploring any beach.
  5. The drive to the Makah Reservation is a good two hours and along a winding road from La Push.  Perfect for eagle scouting.
  6. Bring plenty of snacks and water.
  7. Hot Springs Day use fees: Adults $12.25, Children ages 1-3 Free (limited pool use), Children ages 4-12 $9.25, Senior Citizens/Disabled or Military $9.00.
  8. Entrance fee to Olympic National Park $15 per vehicle and it is good for any entrance to Olympic National Park for seven consecutive days.

 

 

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