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Melissa Locker
March 31, 2016

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 that 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.

For those looking for a little peace and quiet, Hempton’s “one square inch” is located 3.2 miles from the Hoh Rainforest’s Visitor’s Center above Mt. Tom Creek Meadows on the Hoh River Trail. According to Hempton’s website, it’s approximately a two hour hike from the parking lot along the Hoh River Trail. Detailed directions can be found here.

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