Reviews & Photos
August 22 2011
1 family found this helpful
Olympic Game Farm
1423 Ward Rd,
"Throwback fun- where else can you feed a bison?"
When I first read about the Olympic Game Farm, I was a little concerned about the ethical implications of riding around and feeding wild animals bread. It just didn't seem very politically correct. But after some more research, I learned that these animals are on this farm because they used to be the animals (or offspring of) used in Disney nature films of years past. According to their website "Olympic Game Farm’s animals are the offspring of our past animal actors. Several others are either rescues; overflow from other licensed animal facilities; retired from acting in the entertainment industry (other trainers); or we just received as gifts and donations from licensed individuals."
So since these animals were not taken out of the wild and are provided a healthy diet (including the wheat bread guests feed them), I decided to give it a go.
It was so much fun!
We headed up a hill and started by feeding the llamas, which are one of my daughter's favorite animals. Fun enough. Then we got back in the car and headed down a hill and into a crazy world filled with yaks, zebras, deer, rhinos, and bears all waiting for food. Some of the animals were a bit disinterested by the bread but others were quite eager to have a snack. It isn't every day you feed a rhino! The yaks, deer and zebra roam free but the bears and rhino are behind a fence. The bears sit up on their hind legs and seem to prefer it when you ball up the bread and throw it to them to catch on their hind legs. Most of the bears looked old and well fed. They seemed to be the most popular with visitors because cars would stop and throw their bread at the bears for extended periods of time (even though we were told not to stop), creating traffic jams. My kids found the bears to be very entertaining but I felt some guilt throwing bread balls at bears. All that National Park training was gnawing at my conscious.
The next area we entered was filled with predators in cages. Most of the predators looked old, especially the lions and tigers. You drive by their cages and don't feed them- sort of like visiting a zoo from a car. The cages weren't all that big and reminded me of enclosures in zoos of the past.
One particularly unusual aspect of this area is the large number of domesticated bunnies which hang out around the predator cages. I thought it was pretty funny that the bunnies were on the outside of the cages and imagined them sticking their tongues out at animals which would be happy to eat them in the wild. I guess the predators aren't very concerned with the bunnies because I actually saw one bunny happily sleeping inside the tiger cage!
After the predators, the real fun began. We entered a new paddock and were greeted by huge elk sticking their heads in the car, looking for some bread! It was hilarious. My aunt was in the passenger seat and didn't want to feed the animals. An elk peeked in, saw she had no food, and gave her a huge lick on the side of the face! My son loved feeding the elk and my daughter enjoyed giving bread to the deer that followed (thought she only was willing to feed the girls, no boys allowed). The real highlight from the whole experience was the bison. These guys are huge and coming eye to eye with a snot-nosed beast in search of a snack is definitely a unique experience! The bison tended to linger with their giant heads in the car, so we had to be sure to keep moving slowly which would eventually cause them to give up their begging.
In the end, the bison drool on the side of your car will wash away but the laughter and memories from that day will stick in my memory for a lifetime. While normally I wouldn't be too keen on feeding wild animals, these animals are very tame and have been taken in by the family who runs this place, which is better than the alternative that many captive animals are forced to live in. If you are in the area, give it a go.
Note: Bread is available for purchase at the ticket gate or you can bring your own loaves. Just make sure it is whole wheat. 3 to 5 loaves per car load is typical.
Disclosure: My car received complimentary entry into the Olympic Game Farm so that I could review this experience. I did not receive any compensation and was not not asked to provide anything but my honest opinion of the experience.
August 22 2011
0 families found this helpful
Quinault Rainforest Hikes
US Hwy 101,
"Temperate rainforest near a scenic lake"
We took a trail across from the south shore of Lake Quinalt which began directly across the street from the Lake Quinalt Lodge, in a popular area filled with kid-friendly trails. The day we went was quite warm, rare for this area, though the trail did provide some shade.
One thing I wasn't expecting was so many fallen trees. Evidently a huge wind storm blew through the area a couple years back, causing many of these old giants to fall. It made for an interesting hike, though it wasn't quite the rainforest experience I was expecting. I did notice that the further back from the initial slope, the less trees had fallen, probably because they didn't receive the brunt of the wind. I think that people who choose to take longer hikes will probably experience a more lush forest.
There were two small waterfalls on our hike, but I think there are several bigger and better waterfalls up the road which takes visitors deeper into the interior. I wish we had more time in this rainforest and recommend at least two days to enjoy it.
August 18 2011
1 family found this helpful
Hoh Rain Forest
Olympic National Park,
"Magical walk through a world of green."
I had daydreamed about the Hoh Rainforest from the time I first realized such a place existed. I had always imagined rainforests to be tropical and hot, not cool and filled with evergreens.
My family only had a few hours to spend in the Hoh so we opted to take it's most popular trail, the Hall of Mosses. This trail is a short (0.8 mile) loop with a gradual 100 foot elevation gain. I did the trail with two four-year-olds and and a senior and we all had an easy time with the trail. While most days in the Hoh are thick with clouds and rain. We happened upon a rare warm, sunny day but the shade from all the trees made the walk very pleasant.
One of the highlights of the trail is a stream that we crossed towards the beginning of our walk. The water was so clear that you could see fish swimming and algae growing in the water, which seemed to reflect the moss hanging in the trees. If my kids would have let me, I could have stayed and watched the life in that water for a long time.
Another highlight is the plethora of nurse logs in this forest. Nurse logs are fallen logs that act as nurseries for new life. Things decay quickly on the forest floor, creating rich soil perfect for nurturing new life. We saw huge fallen trees with several new trees, ferns, and fungi growing out of them.
My kids also loved playing around the roots and massive trunks of fallen trees which served as great hiding places. They also loved completing a nature scavenger hunt in the junior ranger booklet on this trail. Your kids can attend a ranger program in this area if you plan your visit during one of the ranger walks and talks so plan your schedule accordingly.
July 21 2011
0 families found this helpful
Cape Loop Drive,
"Head to the edges of the earth!"
The hike to the edge of Cape Flattery is a very scenic hike suitable for all ages. I took my senior aunt and 4 year old twins on this hike which everyone enjoyed and nobody had issues with. There is a decline at the beginning of the trail (which does mean you have to come back up) but the incline was not very bad and my Aunt reported that is was much easier than she thought it would be. The trail heads through damp forest on a wide trail for about 1/3 of a mile before you reach a series of cedar boardwalks which traverse wetlands and protect the flora. This is where a stroller would be impossible to use. I saw one family ditch their stroller on the side of the trail so they could continue. My advice is to use a child carrier for infants and new walkers. Otherwise, I would say any child over the age of 2 1/2 should be able to walk this trail with no issue.
After about 3/4 of a mile on the trail, a glimpse of the water will be seen and a very short side trail veers to the left. take the trail and be taken aback by the views. There are no words that truly describe the beauty of this spot. Actually, I suggest taking any advantage of every viewpoint because they all offer something unique.
At the end of the trail you will come to a viewing platform which is accessed by a a short ladder (about 3 or 4 steps). I saw people of all ages (and even a dog) get up and down the platform with no issue. The views are sweeping and wildlife is frequently spotted. Evidently we missed a passing grey whale by about 5 minutes, but we did get to see a bald eagle and a couple puffins. Sea otters, seals, orcas, and humpbacks are seen off the cape as well.
Total time at the cape was less than 2 hours for us. People with older children can walk the trail out to the cape in about 20-30 minutes but those of us with young children need to give themselves about 40 minutes. We only stay at the end of the cape for 15 minutes due to antsy children but I could have easily spent an hour watching the waters and taking in the views.
July 19 2011
1 family found this helpful
LAKE QUINAULT LODGE
345 South Shore Road,
"Family friendly lakeside and rainforest fun in a grand National Park lodge. "
Olympic National Park is a massive park that dominates Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. It encompasses a variety of ecosystems from beaches to glaciers to rare temperate rainforests. If the idea of sleeping in the rainforest at the edge of a perfectly blue lake sounds like something your family would like to experience, then Lake Quinault Lodge is a great place to call home base.
We visited Lake Quinault Lodge on a warm sunny day in early July- not exactly the weather one would expect in a normally very cool, very damp place. Built in 1926, the lodge is built in the grand style that many national parks from that era were built in with rustic elegance and incredible scenery. My aunt commented on the fact that the place has a “Dirty Dancing” Catskills resort in the early 1960s vibe and I have to agree 100%. It definitely felt like the type of resort that brings families back year after year.
The only way to describe the expansive lawn which sits behind the main lodge and leads down the lakefront is grand. Pairs of Adirondack chairs dot the grass, inviting couples to sit down for a evening glass of wine while the children play horseshoes, run around a charming white gazebo, or skip rocks into the lake.
Down at the lake, families can rent kayaks or small fishing boats (word has it that the lake is filled with fish!), swim in a roped off beach area, or just enjoy the views form brightly colored chairs. The lodge offers boat tours of the lake which offer the opportunity to explore the lake and spot wildlife but the tours will be canceled if the wind kicks up and the water gets choppy. How do I know this? We had scheduled an evening boat tour which ended up being canceled. The water was not exactly my definition of choppy- more like slight waves, but I guess that’s all it takes to cancel a boat ride in what appeared to be a flat-bottomed patio boat. I was assured by the helpful resort employee that the morning boat cruise is almost never canceled because the water is like glass so if you would like to take a tour, morning might be the best time to take it.
There are several different lodging options at Lake Quinault Lodge, including Main Lodge rooms, contemporary Lakeside rooms, romantic Fireplace rooms, and pet-friendly Boathouse rooms. We stayed in the Boathouse (though our only pets were my two rambunctious four-year-olds) and found the rooms to be just fine- nothing fancy, but clean and comfortable with a charming wrap-around porch and idyllic views of the lake. There is no wifi in the rooms and tv’s are non-existent in the boathouse, but trust me, you won’t miss either. The only entertainment you need is surrounding the resort. Between the lake, wonderful hiking trails, indoor pool, game room, and a lawn perfect for stargazing on clear nights, your family will never find a moment of boredom.
There is a dining room at the lodge, the Roosevelt Dining Room, named for President Franklin Roosevelt who visited the lodge in 1937. It definitely has a historic atmosphere and the lunch that we ate there was tasty and reasonably priced considering the location. Adult lunch entrées run around $12.00 and children’s meals were $7.00 and included a drink and ice cream. FYI- the children’s menu is the same across the board at all Olympic National Park dining rooms at both lunch and dinner. During lunch I often had my preschoolers split the kid’s meal because of their inability to sit still long enough to eat the whole thing. I enjoyed the Northwest Po’Boy which was filled with fried oysters.
Bottomline: If you want to stay in a rainforest in Olympic National Park and aren’t up for camping in often unreliable weather, this is the place to stay. The setting is picture perfect and the rainforest is stunning.
Disclosure: I received a discounted media rate which was subsidized by the Olympic CVB. Neither the CVB nor the National Park Service requested that I express any particular opinion and all opinions are always my own.