Is This the Quietest Square Inch in the U.S.?

An acoustic ecologist reveals his findings

Hoh Rainforest moss
Hoh Rainforest moss Samson1976 / iStock

Gordon Hempton has spent three decades traveling around the U.S. looking for its quietest corners. The acoustic ecologist thinks he's finally found it, in a far-flung corner of Washington State.

According to Crosscut, Hempton has dubbed the spot in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park the “quietest square inch in the United States,” with less noise pollution than any other spot in the American wilderness.

While the effects of light pollution are increasingly recognized and in response so-called dark sky reserves are popping up all over the world, from Jasper National Park to Scotland’s Galloway Forest to New Zealand’s Aoraki Mackenzie, so far, few people are talking about quiet reserves, though by some estimates, noise pollution affects more than 88 percent of the contiguous U.S.

That’s where Hempton’s writing, research, and activism comes in. He hopes to protect the nation’s quiet starting with that “One Square Inch of Silence” he found in the Hoh Rainforest. He is hoping to create a law that would protect the quiet by prohibiting air traffic overhead.

Hempton chose the location in the Olympic National Park because, according to his website, “unlike other national parks, such as Yellowstone, Grand Canyon or Hawaii Volcanoes, air tourism is undeveloped and roads do not divide park lands.” That means there are fewer chances for even the slightest amount of noise to intrude upon the silence.

Ferns and dewdrops DWalker44 / iStock
Moss on a tree cesa53rone / iStock
Hoh Rainforest aiisha5 / iStock
Hoh Rainforest aiisha5 / iStock
Olympic National Park Hoh rainforest kjschoen / iStock
Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park Eric Baker / iStock
Red moss spores in the forest dumiceava / iStock
Hoh Rainforest Stanislav_Moroz / iStock
Roosevelt elk in the Hoh Rainforest Natalia Bratslavsky / iStock
Tall Spruce Trees in the Hoh Rainforest willchinda / iStock

Other articles from Travel + Leisure:

Get the latest Travel & Culture stories in your inbox.