What To Pack For a Trip to Washington’s Hoh Rainforest

For most people, when they think of rain forests they think of jungles like the Amazon, or tropical destinations. However, rain forests are not exclusively found in tropical climates. We actually have a few rain forests here in the US, and they are worth a trip. The dense, lush environment holds a massive variety of plant and animal life. If you choose to go to the world-class Hoh Rainforest in Washington state, bring a daypack with all the usual tools and survival gear—but don’t forget to pack some rain gear for this Olympic peninsula gem.

What To Pack For a Trip to Washington’s Hoh Rainforest

Visit the Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest is the official name for a surviving coastal region of rainforest that used to span along the Alaskan coast, and down through central California. It is located in Olympic National Park, directly off of Highway 101. The rainforest is a popular destination for tourists, who come for the unique climate, since it is one of the finest examples of a temperate rainforest left in the world. Thankfully, it remains protected from industry or development as part of the US National Park system.

Over the course of an average year, the Hoh Rainforest receives 12 to 14 feet of rain—most of it in winter. For this reason, packing for a trip means taking serious rain gear. Even if you are traveling in a warmer season, rain gear is a prudent choice. Rain pants, and at the very least a good rain jacket, are highly recommended in all seasons. At the risk of sounding repetitive, it’s wet here!


How To Be Prepared For The Hoh Rainforest

Packing For The Hoh Rainforest

It is also a good idea to bring bug repellant, because there’s a strong insect presence around the rainforest during the warmer months of the year. In general, the area has a cool climate, even throughout the summer. The dense rainforest canopy provides excellent shade and helps maintain a pretty consistent climate. You can probably leave your sunscreen at home for this trip.

A word of warning for aspiring visitors; this rainforest requires careful traversing. The forest floor is covered with mosses and ferns, so hikers need to take their time and watch their steps. The dense foliage can be disorienting and it is certainly possible to get lost here—bring a good magnetic compass for safe travels. Bringing an extra pair of socks (or two) is also a good idea, because shoes and feet are likely to get soaked during a day of trekking. We also recommend hiking poles if you have them, as the high level of moisture, downed trees and mossy plant life is a recipe for a slip and fall.


Why You Should Visit The Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest Rain Jacket

The Hoh Rainforest includes the Hoh River, which has several developed campgrounds available nearby. Staying here is low cost and beautiful, but this area is also very popular thanks to its close proximity to Seattle, so make camping plans well ahead of time. The area has several short hikes and one long trek of 18 miles to Blue Glacier. Hikers can choose to do all, or part, of the Blue Glacier trail as it is an out-and-back trip.

The packing list for Hoh Rainforest isn’t much different than most camping trips, but we can’t emphasize rain gear enough, especially in non-summer months. If you add nothing else to your usual camping arsenal, just make sure to bring your best rain jacket, and make it one with a hood. Regardless of when you visit, you should expect to explore this forest in rain, mist or fog at the very least—and without quality rain gear your hike will get soggy very quickly.

This rainforest is truly a wonder and worth visiting if you are in the Seattle area. Many tourists make dedicated trips to see this specific area, while others stumble upon it during a visit to Olympic National Park. Either way, pack for the weather and enjoy this unique destination any time of the year.