Here on the Olympic Peninsula, we know how to do quiet. Rain and old-growth forest, alpine wilderness, and spans of pristine lake shores and ocean beaches provide a soundtrack that’s pure nature. So, it’s no surprise the peninsula is also home to the quietest spot in the country.
“One Square Inch of Silence” is a noise-control project spearheaded by Gordon Hempton. The Emmy-winning acoustic ecologist set out to find the world’s most remote places, including a teeny-tiny spot in the Hoh Rain Forest he deemed the quietest place in the United States. The location is marked by a small red stone placed by Hempton in 2005.
You don’t need to find the stone to experience what Hempton was getting at. Simply wander the Hoh River Trail through moss-draped trees and fern-covered forest floor until you come to the silence. Only bird song and rustling leaves might disturb the quiet.
Hempton formed a foundation to prevent jet aircraft noise in Olympic National Park and other parks, and some airlines have voluntarily rerouted flights to avoid encroaching on the designated quiet zones.
Want to learn more? Hempton’s works—including One Square Inch of Silence—are the subject of the 2010 documentary “Soundtracker.”