Quinault Rainforest

It was a cloudy day on Thursday and Mythili and I decided to drive to the Quinault rainforest and check out our favorite waterfalls. I find mid to late April to be a very good time to visit as the waterflow of the creeks is quite good. It is not as popular or crowded as its big brother, the Hoh which is an additional 75 miles of driving north. We left home at 5am and reached the Rain Forest Trailhead at 815am.

The Rain Forest Natural Trail is an interpretive loop through the forest passing by the world’s largest Douglas fir tree! Where the loop meets the creek, there is an additional path, to the left, following the Willaby Creek to the point where you can see the Willaby Creek Falls. The best spot to view and photograph the falls is from the bridge along the trail.

Willaby Creek Falls
Nikon D810, 66mm, f7.1, 1.3sec, ISO 64
47°27’37.7964″ N 123°51’38.1708″ W

After a short hike, we got back to the car and drove east on the South Shore Road past the Lake Quinault Lodge to the Falls Creek Campground. Camp site 20 is a good spot to photograph the Falls Creek Falls, a tiny but photogenic waterfall. The scene looked different compared to my last visit about 2 years ago as a tree had fallen down. I shot this image of the falls using the fallen tree as a frame.

Falls Creek Falls
Nikon D810, 55mm, f11, 1.3sec, ISO 64
47°28’7.1198″ N 123°50’45.2205″ W

After photographing the Falls Creek Falls, we continued to drive east along the South Shore Road to my favorite waterfall in the Quinault, the Merriman Falls. It was around 10 when we reached the falls. This is a great spot to learn waterfall photography and the opportunities are nearly limitless. I spent about 90 minutes photographing from various spots around the base of the falls. There are more opportunities to photograph the base rather than the falls itself. Make sure you wear waterpoof boots as you have to wade into the water a bit to capture some nice compositions. The spot was not crowded and we encountered about a half a dozen people over the 90 minutes we were at the falls.

Merriman Falls
Nikon D810, 105mm, f8, 1/5 sec, ISO 200
47°30’2.2323″ N 123°47’4.6432″ W
Base of the Merriman Falls
Nikon D810, 24mm, f9, 1 sec, ISO 64 (2 image focus stack)
47°30’2.1899″ N 123°47’4.6077″ W
Base of the Merriman Falls
Nikon D810, 55mm, f8, 1.3 sec, ISO 64

At 1130am, we had a leisurely lunch sitting in front of this beautiful falls. After lunch, we continued driving east to the Bunch Creek Falls. It was past noon when we reached the falls but unfortunately, the sun was shining right above the falls as some of the clouds had thinned. The lighting was harsh and I decided not to waste my time photographing it. Best time to photograph the falls is early in the morning on a cloudy day when the lighting is diffused. Unlike the Merriman and the Willaby Creek falls, the falls doesn’t get any shade and so you can capture a good image when the lighting is diffused.

There is a tiny cute stream about 100′ west of the Bunch Creek Falls that is worth photographing. As there is no parking in front of it, just park your car at the Bunch Creek Falls and walk west and you will the see the stream on your left. Be watchful of the traffic while you are photographing the stream. I used a wide angle lens to shoot the falling stream.

Quinault Stream
Nikon D750, 19mm, f11, 0.6 sec, ISO 100 (3 image focus stack)
47°31’46.0876″ N 123°41’47.3504″ W

The light was getting harsher and so we decided to call it a day and drove back home at around 130pm and reached home at 5. Overall it was a good day trip. During our stay of about 5.5 hrs at the park we saw about twenty people. Interestingly, all the parking spots in front of the Lake Quinault Lodge were taken. Most likely the guests were having a leisurely brunch or taking a stroll around the lodge.

3 responses to “Quinault Rainforest”

  1. Thanks for sharing these pictures, as well as the locations. As I look for places to explore and photograph in Washington this is a huge help. And you photography is excellent!


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