Exploring the Rainforest... in my backyard!


Olympic National Park,  covers 1442 square miles (922,650 acres), reaches into 4 counties in the northwest corner of Washington State, and has several distinct regions.  The coastal section is 60 miles long and only a few miles wide at best. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are along this rugged section with sea stacks, flat rock beaches, and sandy stretches bordered by amazing old growth forests. 

 Our first day was spent on the southern portion of the park at the Upper Quinault River working long exposures and reflected light then moving on to the north side of Lake Quinault to practice in difficult light on a fairly steep slope.  Let’s just say my tripod was my friend, not only for holding the camera steady during long exposure but for keeping me steady and upright on some slippery slopes.

Day 2 found us photographing the unusual and eerie Spruce tree boles in the fog. This small stretch of forest lies between the highway and the sea cliffs and is accessed via a path leading from a seemingly random pull off. But when found is well worth exploring. The foggy morning obscured all but the sound of the ocean and made the light and shadows in this forest spectacular.  

 We then headed to the Hoh Rainforest to photograph in the Hall of Moses but only stayed a short time because the weather was "too good"frown. After all moss should be wet and drippy!  So with new plans in place we were off to Ruby Beach in search of texture and some great etherial light on the sea stacks, sand and flat rocks.  Here I photographed a new favorite "A Path to the Edge" and discovered the birthplace of skipping stones.  Yes... millions of them in all sizes! My grandkids would go nuts. But what is in a National Park stays in a National Park, so none came home in my pocket.  I'll just have to take the grandkids on a road trip.

Our final day out took us north to the Sol Duc Valley and the old growth forest there.  The lighting was beautiful and filtered through trees I could not see the top of.  The creeks, rivers and waterfalls provided enough subject matter that we again changed plans, extended our stay by a couple hours, and skipped the trip to Rialto Beach.  That's a bonus of a region with such varied landscapes and ecosystem. With a beautiful drive and short hike you can move through so many lighting possibilities and views that if one spot isn't working there are oh so many more to choose from.                                           

 An additional bonus of Olympic National Park is that enjoying it does not depend on good weather. Sunny, hot days are not common and, in my opinion,  are not the best days to experience the full impact of this extraordinary treasure.  In fact if you are prepared to embrace the rain, fog, or wind you will see so much more. It is after all a RAINFOREST and comes by that name honestly!



Thank you for joining me on my photo journey through Olympic National Park.  Sharing a sneak peak at some of my new images with people in my photo community is a treat.  Each photo you saw is linked to the site and more images can also be found there. When you find something you want for yourself or as a gift please use the code ONP20 to get 20% off your entire order plus free shipping* until the end of October.  Never too early to start that holiday shopping. As always if you have any questions feel free to contact me directly.


Gretchen Shepherd

* free shipping applies to  Standard ground shipping within United States.  International shipping will be discounted 25%