Olympic National Park, WA

Olympic National Park is another rainforest park (along with North Cascades and Mount Rainier). The park covers vastly different climates, including coastal Pacific beaches, temperate rainforests, and dry forestlands. It is the Neapolitan ice cream of national parks.

The Hoh Rainforest was particularly interesting. This old-growth forest boasts awe-inspiring hanging gardens and cannibalistic trees growing from corpses of the fallen. Plus, the forest’s name leads to ample fun-filled puns along the hike. So check out that Hoh.

We got pretty damn lucky encountering animals in Olympic. After eating lunch on a stony riverbank, we were joined by two young deer. One relaxing, the other sampling each plant he could find, they hung out with us — a few yards away — until we said our teary-eyed goodbye. This must be how Snow White always feels.

Flexing our animal summoning skills, minutes later we encountered a group of people on a trail. Squinting into the greenery, it took a few moments to realize we were looking at a black bear mother and her two cubs. Although many people were afraid to pass, we felt safe knowing there was a sacrificial kid nearby.

I swear there’s a bear here

Fortunately for us (and the bear fodder toddler), the black bear family slunk into the forest without altercation.

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