Experience Hoh Rainforest Elk and Hiking Tours in Olympic National Park

Two male Roosevelt elk with large antlers graze with their backs facing us in front of the Hoh Rainforest visitor center sign

Westward Hoh to old-growth rainforest

The Hoh Rainforest is dripping in moss, ripe with summer berries, and ablaze in fall color.  Learn more about Roosevelt Elk and old-growth temperate rainforest ecology with your naturalist guide.

Consider our inclusive tours or economical guide service rates on Olympic National Park guided tours

Two participants hiking side-by-side in the Hoh Rainforest with trekking poles

Journey to the Rainforest

4 hours (180 mile) roundtrip drive to the Hoh Rainforest from Port Angeles. 

If staying in Port Angeles, consider an Elwha River Restoration Tour for more time hiking and a greater variety of hiking options.

Fall 2018 Alert:  Upper Hoh Road slated to be repaired September 4 - October

Close-up of a colorful Hoh Rainforest polypore fungi that shows almost all the colors of a rainbow

The Hoh Rainforest is a temperate rainforest wilderness where old-growth Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock dominate.  Moss is increadibly prolific on all surfaces, especially when it creates curtains on Big-Leaf and Vine Maple trees. 

World Heritage Site placard in the Hoh Rainforest that reads that ONP is recognized because of its outstanding natural and cultural resources that form the common inheritance of all mankind

Enjoy the highest living standing biomass on Hoh Rainforest tours

The placard for Olympic National Park's World Heritage Site designation is housed at the Visitor Center in Hoh Rainforest. Lack of disturbance is reflected in the gigantic proportions of Hoh Rainforest trees including the Western Red Cedar, which can live to be a thousand years old.  According to Unesco, the Hoh Rainforest has a living standing biomass which may be the highest in the world and contains one of the world’s largest stands of undisturbed temperate rainforest.

Two smiling multi-generational participants with binoculars part the strands of curtain moss in the Hoh Rainforest

Two participants look very small next to huge Big Leaf Maples trees draped in moss in the fall

The Hoh Rainforest is where Gordon Hempton has designated One Square Inch of Silence and Nalini Nadkarni made the discovery that Big-Leaf Maple roots were growing into canopy moss to extract water and nutrients.

Roosevelt Elk on Hoh Rainforest elk and hiking tours

A large bull Roosevelt elk peeks out from behind a huge old-growth Sitka Spruce tree

The aptly named Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center Elk herd (or Campground Herd) usually resides within a mile radius of the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center year-round. Additionally, five or more Roosevelt Elk herds can be observed during the drive to the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center. 

Two hikers stand smiling on a small bridge over an Olympic Peninsula creek with huge sword ferns growing along the bank

While most of these herds move into the mountains during the summer, the Hoh Visitor Center herd is the exception and typically does not stray far from the Visitor Center year round.  Although it is more challenging to observe Roosevelt elk during the summer, we have stopped to watch River Otters swimming in nearby wetlands so elk are not the only wildlife sighted on Hoh Rainforest elk and hiking tours.

An extreme close up of a Banana Slug on a participant's face

A participant raises her phone to take a photo of a waterfall among a sea of large sword ferns

Why travel to the Hoh Rainforest?

Although temperate rainforest surrounds Forks, Washington, most lowland forest outside the boundaries of Olympic National Park has been logged.  You therefore have to journey a distance from Forks for an undisturbed old-growth rainforest landscape like the Hoh Rainforest.  You will no doubt be thankful for the 95% wilderness designation in Olympic National Park after participating in a Hoh Rainforest elk and hiking tour.

Photograph of a trail sign that is near the visitor center in the Hoh Rainforest

A large female elk poses over a nurse log while browsing for wild food near the Spruce Nature trail

Hoh Rainforest Hiking Trail Options

On Hoh Rainforest tours you can choose two short loop trails – the Hall of Mosses loop (green) or the Spruce Nature Trail loop (gray).  The other option is an out-and-back of variable distance on Hoh River trail (blue).

An excited hiker smiles and poses with a friendly yellow and black spotted Banana Slug poised on her finger

The Hall of Mosses is the classic upland forest characterized by huge old trees, habitat-rich dead-standing trees or snags, colossal nurse logs teeming with life, and trees of variable ages from seedlings to giants.  The Spruce Nature trail takes you towards the Hoh River and through transitional Red Alder forest stands.  The Hoh River trail largely encompasses what you see on both the Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature trail.

Combine the Hoh Rainforest with an iconic Olympic beach, waterfall, or restored river

On the way to the Hoh Rainforest, consider a stop at the beach, visit to a waterfall, or learn about one of the largest river restoration projects in the world.  The options below are all possible combination tours that can be included in a day to the Hoh Rainforest.  However, the choice of one of these combinations mean less time for hiking and exploring the Hoh Rainforest.   

Read our multi-day reviews that describe touring the Hoh Rainforest with Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic Guided Tours