RACHEL BELLE

The quietest place in the lower 48 is in Western Washington

Apr 16, 2018, 4:02 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2018, 8:31 am
vulnerable lands...
(Photo by Aryeh Alex, CC Images)
(Photo by Aryeh Alex, CC Images)
LISTEN: The quietest place in the lower 48 is right here in western Washington

Quiet. It’s hard to come by. Especially if you live in a city. But Port Townsend’s Gordon Hempton says Washington state is home to one of the quietest places in the country. And he wants to keep it that way.

That’s why Hempton created the project One Square Inch of Silence.

“One Square Inch of Silence is the least noise-polluted place in the lower 48 of the United States,” Hempton said. “And it’s located in the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park.”

“The criteria to belong on the world’s last great quiet places is to only have a noise-free interval of 15 minutes,” he said. “Which means between one jet and the next jet, in the most common circumstance, there will be at least 15 minutes, hopefully, more. At last count, there are only a dozen [of these places] in the continental United States, of which the Hoh Valley is one of them. But today we find that it’s teetering just below 20 minutes. The reason for that is SeaTac Airport is now our nation’s fastest-growing airport.”

RELATED: The hiking alternative of forest bathing

Hempton is adamant about keeping this spot quiet. So he contacted airlines about changing their flight paths.

“In three cases, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Aloha Airlines, they did agree to fly around Olympic National Park,” he said. “However, the FAA has flights to Asia that designate Olympic National Park as the preferred flight path. So we changed our strategy in that time and we’re pushing for legislation to have Olympic National Park designated as the world’s first quiet park. You might think that’s a far-fetched idea but not really because we have an International Dark Sky park system and there are now over 30 parks, internationally, that protect these parks from light pollution so we can see the night sky.”

Olympic National Park

Why the obsession with absolute quiet?

“What’s not to love about quiet?” Hempton said. “Science has already shown us that when you experience quiet, true quiet, such as in nature, you can increase your scoring on IQ tests, you can become more creative and your whole brain seems to open up its communication channels. We simply become better versions of me and you.”

Quiet, in Hempton’s terms, does not actually mean dead silence. It does mean absolutely no man-made sounds. Water flowing, birds chirping, logs creaking; this is all good. Simply not talking when you’re out and about running errands isn’t enough to achieve the psychological benefits. That’s just internal quiet. Hempton says there’s a difference.

“It’s biological need,” he said. “Quiet is a necessary ingredient to our lives. I often think of it as Vitamin Q. If you don’t have quiet in your life your teeth won’t fall out, but you won’t be as healthy or well adjusted or satisfied with your life unless you include some quiet in it.”

If you want to hike out to the One Square Inch of Quiet spot, click here to learn more.

  • listen to rachel belleTune in to KIRO Radio on weekdays to hear Rachel Belle.
Who is Rachel Belle?

Your Last Meal

Rachel Belle

supply chain...
Rachel Belle

Start your holiday shopping now or risk supply chain issues

Now is the time to start holiday gift shopping because if you don't buy soon, supply chain issues may make it tough to get what you want later.
12 days ago
Dick's...
Rachel Belle

How does Dick’s Drive-In pay workers $19 an hour with a menu completely under $5?

Dick's Drive-In recently raised its base pay, as did Taco Time, which is now offering employees $20 an hour at select locations. How do they keep prices low and pay high?
13 days ago
botox...
Rachel Belle

Don’t like how you look on Zoom? Many young Americans are now getting Botox

More people are turning to Botox to get rid of lines and wrinkles, but is it safe? How does one age naturally in a youth obsessed country? Experts weigh in.
19 days ago
certified wildlife habitat...
Rachel Belle

Turn your backyard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat

The National Wildlife Federation will help you make your yard a habitable home for bees, birds, bugs and critters. And they'll give you an official sign!
1 month ago
Emily Cherkin and Ben Gitenstein, pictured months after 9/11. (Photo courtesy of Emily Cherkin)...
Rachel Belle

‘You either got married or broke up’: 20 years later, a Seattle couple on falling in love in NYC in the wake of 9/11

On Sept. 11, 2001, Seattle's Emily Cherkin and Ben Gitenstein were 22 years old and separately taking the subway into Manhattan when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers. This is their story.
1 month ago
dirty work...
Rachel Belle

New book ‘Dirty Work’ reveals psychological toll of working unsavory jobs nobody wants

A new book by Eyal Press called "Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America" takes a deeper look at jobs no one wants to do.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
The quietest place in the lower 48 is in Western Washington