When the highway emerges on the coastline south of Forks , you will quickly become aware that the northern half of Washington’s coastline is a picture of how the Pacific coast looks in brochures and calendar photos: pristine beaches, pounding waves, trees sculpted by relentless sea breezes.
Washington’s rocky and essentially undeveloped Olympic coast is truly a national gem, and in 1994 it was declared the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, a designation that helps protect the shore and ocean from development.
The coast contains rich fishing grounds; more species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises than anywhere on earth; some of the largest seabird colonies in the Lower 48; and an unparalleled beauty that attracts painters, photographers, and anyone with a sense of wonder. The shore is dotted with cliff-rimmed beaches and forested hills.
Farther inland, you’ll encounter a different kind of spectacle—one of mossy trees, gurgling streams, and misty forests. These are the most famous woods in America, the Hoh Rain Forest . Bring your raincoat and a sense of adventure, and prepare to meander.