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6. Olympic National Park, Washington

Roosevelt elk in the Hoh Rainforest.
Some of the most popular hikes are through the Hoh Rainforest, a temperate rainforest with moss-draped trees.

A park like no other

Nowhere else in North America can you go from sea-level rainforests to high alpine peaks in one park. Situated on an isolated peninsula, on the other side of the Puget Sound from Seattle, diversity is the hallmark of Olympic National Park. Thanks to an annual precipitation of over 12 feet (making it one of the wettest areas in the country) and a serious range in elevation, you’ll immerse yourself in dramatic scenery from the sandy beaches sitting next to moss-carpeted rainforests up to the glaciated summit of Mount Olympus, at nearly 8,000 feet tall.

The park protects a vast wilderness—full of primeval forest of Sitka spruce, western hemlock, Douglas fir, and western red cedar—and is home to herds of Roosevelt elk, among other animals native to the area. Hikers can experience the unique flora and fauna on the park’s trails.

Hiking in Olympic National Park

Hoh River Trail: They say the moss throughout the Hoh Rainforest is so vibrantly green that it requires sunglasses. No matter how long you take this trail (19 miles out-and-back to Blue Glacier, though most people make a much shorter day hike out of it) you might not believe your eyes regardless of whether you’re wearing specs or not thanks to the 300-foot Sitka spruce trees and walls of lichen, fern and moss. This might be one of the ​​best hikes in the US.

Sol Duc Falls Trail: An easy hike to a beautiful waterfall, this 1.8-mile round trip trail is great for families. Shade encompasses the majority of the route with a thick forest canopy overhead—solitude is only broken by the roar of the falls.

Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall: No trip is complete without a stroll along the 70-something miles of coastline. For this hike, there is no real trail, rather, the footprints of others lead the way. At four miles out-and-back you have the chance of seeing whales, sea lions, otters, and eagles, massive sea stacks, soaring cliffs and teeming tidepools.

Get ready for the big one: driving up to Denali

Buckle up because this is a multi-day drive, which includes traversing nearly the entirety of British Columbia.

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