Olympic National Park: First Beach

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From Quinault Rain Forest, Highway 101 descends through the Quinault Indian Reservation to the lower Queets Valley, a section of the park added by the Truman administration. From there, the road turns abruptly north and follows the coast for eleven miles, past seven specific beaches that comprise the southernmost coastal area of Olympic National Park.

The forested bluff above First Beach (literally the first opportunity to access the coast) is famous for its high density of mysterious spruce burls, huge tumors on the trunks of Sitka spruce. It’s uncertain what causes the burls, which are not a cancer.

Image: Kathrin Russette

Banana Slug

A short switchback trail leads down a ravine and across a simple bridge to the beach. The tide was going out, so we climbed over heaps of driftlogs to watch the surf.

Image: Kathrin Russette

A stone with the same coloring as Elsa. Image: Sean M. Santos

It’s so lush that new plants even grow from the organic matter between driftlogs.

Salmonberry blossom and developing berry.

Image: Sean M. Santos

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