What to See at the Hoh Rain Forest (Full Guide!)

Last Updated on January 4, 2022 by admin

The Hoh Rain Forest is a large, verdant forest located in Washington State. This rainforest receives an astonishing 140 inches of rainfall each year! (They don’t call it a rain forest for nothing!) In comparison, Seattle receives about 38 inches of annual rainfall. The Hoh Rain Forest is known for its lush, green landscape. The trees are cloaked in mosses, the ground is covered with ferns, and the tree canopy is green all year long. Basically, everywhere you look is green! In this post, we will share what to see at the Hoh Rain Forest to help you plan for your next trip!

Hoh Rain Forest Hall of Mosses


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What to Pack for a Visit to the Hoh Rain Forest

When you visit the rain forest, you’ll want to prepare for rain. Avoid wearing cotton and denim, because it takes a lot longer for those materials to dry out. Your shoes will probably get muddy, so it can be helpful to bring a clean pair to leave in the car for later. (That way you can just toss your muddy shoes in the trunk.)

We recommend that you bring the following:

  • Lightweight rain jacket: If you’re visiting during the warmer months, you’ll want to bring a waterproof outer shell that will keep you dry but won’t be too warm. 
  • Heavy rain jacket: If you’re visiting during the cooler months, you’ll want to bring a heavier rain jacket that will keep you warm and dry.
  • Waterproof hiking boots: We recommend waterproof hiking boots. They’ll provide you with good support as you explore the trails, while also keeping your feet dry.
  • Waterproof pants: We’d only recommend bringing waterproof pants if heavy rainfall is expected. When you’re in the forest, the canopy will protect you from a lot of rain. (But if you plan on visiting the coast, these could come in handy.)
  • Power bank: You’ll be using your phone a lot for maps, navigation, and taking photos. Bringing a power bank will make sure you don’t run out of cell phone battery out on the trails. We like this one because it has a built-in cord. (Less things to lose!)
  • Water bottle: Stay hydrated on the trails!
  • Day pack: Bring a comfortable day backpack so you can stow away extra layers and snacks. We recommend bringing extra socks just in case!

 

(Click on any of the images above for current pricing information.)

Anytime you go hiking, be sure to bring the 10 Essentials for hiking safety.
 

 

About the Hoh Rain Forest

The Hoh Rain Forest is a part of Olympic National Park in Washington State. It’s one of four rain forests in this national park. (The other three rain forests are Quinault, Queets, and Bochiel.) Olympic National Park has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its biodiversity and stunning landscape, and it was one of the Top 10 most visited national parks in 2020 (with 2.5 million annual visitors). 

The Hoh Rain Forest is a temperate rain forest, meaning that it receives lots of rainfall in a moderate climate. The rain forest has a lot of epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants). As you walk through the forest, you’ll see lots of lichens dangling from trees and mosses growing on tree trunks.

The forest is filled with giant Red Cedars, Douglas Firs, Sitka Spruces, and Big Leaf Maple trees. Once one of these giant trees falls to the ground, it begins to slowly decay and crumble on the forest floor. The fallen trees are nutrient-dense, so you can often find new tree saplings growing on top of them. When the old log eventually decays, you’ll see an entire row of trees with exposed roots that look like stilts! For this reason, the fallen trees are often called “nurse logs.” (See if you can find any when you visit!)

nurse log at the Hoh Rain Forest Hall of Mosses
An example of trees growing on top of the fallen log

 

The Hoh Rain Forest, as part of Olympic National Park, has ties to the following indigenous tribes: Hoh, Lower Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Skokomish, Quinault, Quileute, and Makah. Be respectful of these lands during your visit. 

deer at the Hoh Rain Forest Hall of Mosses


Important Visiting Information

National Park Service website about the Hoh Rain Forest

To enter the Hoh Rain Forest, you need to purchase an Olympic National Park entrance past. There are some entrance-free days throughout the year. See the website for details. 

When visiting the park, be sure to follow leave no trace principles. Stay on the marked trails and do not litter.

We recommend downloading the National Park Service app in advance of your visit. Cell phone coverage within Olympic National Park can be unreliable, so you can download all of your maps offline. You can also learn about the many different regions of the park.

After visiting the rainforest, head over to Kalaloch Beach to see the sunset and view the Tree of Life!
 

Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center

Address: 18113 Upper Hoh Rd., Forks, WA 98331
Phone: (360) 565-3000

Hours vary according to the season. Check the website in advance to plan your visit. The visitor center is typically open daily during the summer, and it closes for a couple of months during the winter. During the off-season, the visitor center may be open only partially during the week. 

Please note that there are no gas stations or restaurants immediately near the Hoh Rain Forest. The closest service station is located in Forks, Washington. (Which is 31 miles away from the visitor center.)

Hoh Rain Forest Hall of Mosses


How to Get to the Hoh Rain Forest

From Seattle, you have two primary options for reaching the Hoh Rain Forest. The first option is to take the the Bainbridge ferry and take US-101 across the top of the peninsula. The second option is to drive south of Seattle, driving below the Puget Sound, and then taking US-101. Whichever route you choose, you’ll then can enter the Hoh Rain Forest by taking the Upper Hoh Road to reach the Visitor Center. These routes can take 4.5-5 hours (without major traffic delays). We don’t think it’s a very feasible day trip from Seattle, so it’s best to spend a night or two in the peninsula to see all there is to see in this beautiful region. 

 


What to See at the Hoh Rain Forest

1. Visitor Center

Begin your visit by stopping by the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. The visitor center has a restroom, bookstore, and exhibits. Feel free to ask a park ranger any questions you have as you prepare your visit.

It’s not uncommon to see elk and deer in the area. During our last visit, we saw a bunch of elk to the side of the Upper Hoh Road on our way to the visitor center. We also saw a deer on the trail in the Hall of Mosses.

Elk Hoh Rain Forest
We saw these elk on our way to the visitor center

 

2. Hall of Mosses

The Hall of Mosses is my absolute favorite thing to see in the Hoh Rain Forest. In all my travels, I have never seen a place as green. (Including my trip to the Amazon Rainforest!) 

The trailhead to the Hall of Mosses is near the visitor center. The Hall of Mosses loop trail is .8 miles long with 100 total feet of elevation gain. It’s a very easy hike, and is suitable for most abilities. (It’s also a very kid-friendly hike!) You can read recent trip reports here

As you walk along the trail, there are plenty of interpretive signs. Be sure to stay on the trail to preserve this landscape. Botanists are sure to love this trail, as there are dozens of different types of mosses that grow in Olympic National Park. Pay careful attention to the mosses and see how many different types of moss you can identify! This website is helpful in learning about the many different types of mosses and lichens that grow in the forest.

deer on the Hall of Mosses Trail
We saw this deer on the trail!

 

3. Spruce Nature Trail

The trailhead to the Spruce Nature Trail is also near the visitor center. This loop trail is 1.2 miles long, and pairs well with the Hall of Mosses since they are right by each other. The trail is a great place to view nurse logs, and it also has some views of the Hoh River. 

4. Hoh River Trail

The Hoh River Trail is a much longer hike. (The trailhead is also by the visitor center.) This trail, if you take it all the way to Blue Glacier, is at least 37 miles roundtrip. You can partially hike this trail, or you can complete the whole thing. If you are going to stay overnight, you’ll need to secure reservation passes in advance of your visit. Most people partially hike the trail. If you’re interested in a day hike along the trail, you can hike to the first river access, Mineral Creek Falls, Cedar Grove, or 5 Mile Island. (More info here.) Be sure to ask the park rangers about current trail conditions before your visit, and always carry the 10 Essentials when you hike.


 

Where to Stay

We created this map to show you some of the nearby lodging options:

 

This map was created with Wanderlog, the best travel planner app on iOS and Android

Hotels

Lake Crescent Lodge

Distance from Visitor Center: 68 miles

This historic lodge was built in 1915 and sits on the shores of Lake Crescent. The lobby has a large stone fireplace, the guest rooms are spacious, and there is dining on-site.

Kalaloch Lodge

Distance from Visitor Center: 40 miles

This lodge is located on the coast. You’ll be able to easily access the Hoh Rain Forest for a day trip, as well as the many famous beaches along the coast. This lodge is a great place to go to connect with nature and unplug. The rooms do not have phones or WiFi. The Kalaloch Lodge has a live webcam of the ocean here.

Lake Quinault Lodge

Distance from Visitor Center: 73 miles

The Lake Quinault Lodge is a grand hotel with rustic touches. The lodge has 91 rooms and one suite. The hotel has a sauna and an indoor heated pool.

Quillayute River Resort

Distance from Visitor Center: 41 miles

The river resort is comprised of six suites. Each suite has a kitchen, bedroom, and living room. The bathrooms even have heated tile floors.

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort

Distance from Visitor Center: 71 miles

This resort is open seasonally. (Check their website for current availability.) The Sol Duc hot springs are comprised of four different mineral pools of varying temperatures. 

Hoh Valley Cabins

Distance from Visitor Center: 12 miles

This is a collection of four contemporary cabins nestled in the woods. The cabins are beautifully constructed and perfect for a woodland escape. 

Don’t miss our full guide to Hurricane Ridge!
 

Campgrounds

Hoh Campground

Distance from Visitor Center: Right next to the visitor center (.1 miles)

If you want to stay near the Hoh Rain Forest, this is as close as you can get! The Hoh Campground is open year-round. During the summer, be sure to make reservations. The rest of the year, the sites are first-come, first-served. There are 72 total sites. At the time of this writing, the sites cost $24 per night.

Kalaloch Campground

Distance from Visitor Center: 39 miles

Camping at Kalaloch Beach
Our campsite at Kalaloch… can’t beat the view!

 

This is where we stayed during our last trip to the Hoh Rain Forest. Kalaloch Campground is open year-round and is located right next to the ocean. It’s a large campground with 170 sites. Some of the sites have ocean views! During the summer, you’ll need to make reservations. During the off-season, it’s first-come, first-served. We were able to grab a site with a view of the ocean, and it was one of our favorite camping sites of all time. (Nothing like sitting at the campfire with an ocean sunset in front of you!) The campground has flush toilets but no showers. It took us about an hour to drive from the campground. (Tip: This campground is located next to the famous Tree of Life. Be sure to head down to the beach to check it out!)

Read our detailed articled on the Tree of Life if you plan on visiting it during your trip!
 
Hard Rain Cafe and Campground

Distance from Visitor Center: 12 miles

This campground is located on the Upper Hoh Road. You can choose between a tent site or a campsite with electricity. (There are no campsites with sewers.)


Where to Eat

Hard Rain Cafe

Distance from Visitor Center: 12 miles

The Hard Rain Cafe serves coffee, breakfast, and burgers. It’s one of the closest food options near the Hoh Rain Forest. 

Creekside Restaurant

Distance from Visitor Center: 39 miles

This rustic restaurant serves classic American food with a view. At the time of this writing, they are open for to-go orders only.

BBG Blakeslee Bar & Grill

Distance from Visitor Center: 30 miles

This is a full-service bar located in Forks, Washington, for guests that are 21 years old and over.

We recommend that you view our post about Ruby Beach. We think it’s one of the best beaches in the state! Kalaloch Beach and Third Beach are also nearby beaches that are absolutely stunning!

Nearby Attractions

In addition to the Hoh Rain Forest, we recommend checking out these nearby attractions:

  • Kalaloch Beach: Watch the sunset over the pacific ocean and see the Tree of Life. (A tree that has defied all odds by remaining alive, with its roots completely exposed to the elements.)
  • Ruby Beach: This is easily one of the most beautiful beaches in Washington State. Watch the sunset behind the sea stacks.
  • Hurricane Ridge: On a clear day, you’ll see the tops of the mountains and even as far out to Canada.
  • Third Beach: The trail to Third Beach is 3.6 miles roundtrip. You’ll see plenty of sea stacks from this beach hike.
  • Big Cedar Tree: A very short .1 mile trail will take you a massive Cedar tree believed to be over 1,000 years old. After storms in 2014, it was split nearly in two.
  • Lake Crescent: This beautiful lake is located in the Olympic Mountains.
  • Sol Duc Falls: To reach the falls, you’ll complete a beautiful 1.6 mile roundtrip hike. 
  • World’s Largest Spruce Tree: The tree has a circumference of 58 feet, 11 inches.
  • Forks, Washington: This is the town where the Twilight book series takes place. Fans of the books will enjoy seeing many of the places mentioned in the books.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Hoh Rain Forest

What town is closest to the Hoh Rain Forest?

The closest town to the Hoh Rain Forest is Forks, Washington. Forks is located 31 miles away from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center (about a 50 minute drive). Forks is a good place to stock up on supplies, have a bite to eat, and fill up the gas tank before exploring Olympic National Park.

How much time do you need in the Hoh Rain Forest?

We recommend that at the very least you complete the Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature Trail. If the visitor center is open, we also recommend that you stop by and look at the exhibits. We recommend at least 2 to 3 hours to visit the Hoh Rain Forest, although you can certainly stay much longer. There’s a campground by the visitor center so you can even stay overnight. 

Can you bring pets to the Hoh Rain Forest? 

Dogs are not allowed on trails in the Hoh Rain Forest.

Is the Hoh Rainforest worth visiting?

Yes! The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the most magical places in Washington State. The entire forest is thick with mosses, lichens, and ferns. The Hall of Mosses is a short loop trail that will take you through the heart of the Hoh Rain Forest.

What is special about the Hoh Rain Forest?

The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the largest temperate rain forests in the United States. The forest is unlike most forests you have probably seen. Everywhere you look there is green. The tree trunks, forest floor, and branches are covered in mosses, lichens, and ferns. As part of Olympic National Park, the Hoh Rain Forest is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Can you drive through the Hoh Rain Forest?

Yes. Once you enter Olympic National Park, you can drive along Upper Hoh Road, where you will be driving through the Hoh Rain Forest. The best thing to do, though, is to leave the vehicle and hike the short Hall of Mosses trail. 

When is the best time to visit the Hoh Rain Forest?

The best time to visit the Hoh Rain Forest is between the months of June and September. There will be less rain and more sunshine for better lighting. We personally love exploring Washington State in September. There are less crowds, but the weather is typically very nice. During our last trip to the Hoh Rain Forest, we visited in early April. Even with lots of rain, it’s still a beautiful place to visit. The forest canopy is so thick, it will protect you from a lot of the rain.

Where is the Hoh Rain Forest?

The Hoh Rain Forest is located in Washington State on the peninsula. The Rain Forest is a part of Olympic National Park. The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center address is: 18113 Upper Hoh Rd, Forks, WA 98331. (Please note that the visitor center has limited hours in the off-season.)

Are there bears in the Hoh Rain Forest?

There are black bears that live in Olympic National Park. 

How much does it cost to visit the Hoh Rain Forest?

To enter the Hoh Rain Forest, you will need to purchase an Olympic National Park pass. At the time of this publication, a pass for a non-commercial vehicle costs $30 and lasts for 7 days. We recommend that you purchase your pass in advance and print it at home. If you have an annual America the Beautiful pass (for national parks and federal recreational lands), you can use that pass. That’s a great option if you are planning on visiting multiple parks in the same calendar year. The park also has several entrance-free days every year that are listed on their website.

How much rain does the Hoh Rain Forest get each year?

On average, the Hoh Rain Forest receives 140 inches of rain each year. (That’s more than 11 feet of rain!)


 

Summary

The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the best places to visit in Washington State. We hope this post was helpful in planning for your trip!

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