5 Must-See Destinations in Olympic National Park
Designated as both a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations, Olympic National Park combines temperate rainforest, glaciated mountain peaks, and coastal ecosystems to create a nature experience you’ll never forget. The park encompasses nearly one million acres and over 70 miles of coastline, which is an impossible amount of ground to cover in one visit. Whether you enjoy hiking or camping, kayaking or fishing, Olympic National Park is a dream destination for the outdoor enthusiast.
The park is open 24 hours a day year-round, and the busiest months are June through September. You can count on the park being less crowded in the fall, just don’t forget to pack your layers and rain jacket. Not sure where to get started? We’ve rounded up our top five must-see attractions in Olympic National Park.
5 Must-See Attractions in Olympic National Park
- Hurricane Ridge: Start your journey at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Here you can get maps, tips from park rangers, and snacks to ward off hunger. It’s open every day in the summer and on the weekends during the winter. Continue up the road to Hurricane Ridge, which offers spectacular views of the Olympic mountains and peninsula. Hurricane Hill is a great 3.2-mile round trip hike and on a clear day, you can see all the way to Canada. Plan your visit in late spring if you want to see the wildflowers in full bloom.
- Lake Crescent: This glacially-carved lake is nestled among the northern foothills of the Olympic mountains. There are several hiking trails that will lead you up into the mountains or down to explore the lowland forests and creeks. Marymere Falls is a popular and well-maintained trail which ends with views of the 90-foot waterfall. Back at the lake, there are picnic areas and boat launches, making it a great place to kayak, swim or simply relax and enjoy a day at the lake.
- Hoh Rainforest: The Hoh Rainforest is a designated World Heritage site and one of only four temperate rainforests in the world. Wildly green and typically wet, the area sees 134 inches of rain annually. There are several trails ranging from easy one-mile loops all the way to trails that run more than 15 miles along the Hoh River Trail. The Hall of Mosses is a popular loop from the visitor’s center. Keep your eyes open for animals including the Roosevelt Elk, also known as the Olympic Elk.
- Ruby Beach: There are no shortage of beautiful beaches in the park, but Ruby Beach in the Kalalock area might just be the most stunning. The dynamic sea stacks are the main attraction and a walk along the rocky coastline is a must-do. Visit at low tide to discover tidepools alive with sea life like anemones, sea urchins, and starfish. Bundle up, pack a picnic, and stay for sunset.
- Sol De Lac Falls: This waterfall is also on our list of favorite waterfalls in Washington. The hike to the falls is short and sweet with an epic reward. The enjoyable walk takes you through old-growth forest and there are various viewpoints of the waterfall, both upstream and down along the way. One of the best views comes on the bridge that crosses the river. Start the trek early in the morning to beat the crowds, and don’t forget your camera and tripod.
Pro Tips: Camping in Olympic National Park
All campgrounds in Olympic National Park are first-come, first-served except for Kalaloch and Sol Duc. These two accept reservations in the summer when visitor count is the highest. Most campgrounds are self-registration and payment can be made by cash or check only.
Campsites in park-operated campgrounds are fairly primitive without water, showers, or electrical hookups, but if you rent one of our sportsmobile camper vans, you’ll be set with a refrigerator, sink with running water, and a propane stove. You also won’t need to worry about finding a power hookup, the house battery charges when the van is running.
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Here are a few of our favorite campgrounds near Olympic National Park to check out.
- Elwha Campground
- Sol Duc Campground (Reservations can be made in the summer)
- Mora Campground
- Hoh Campground
- Kalaloch Campground (Reservations can be made in the summer)
You can find more campground specific information here, or by visiting the park Visitor Centers and Ranger Stations.
Interested in more Pacific Northwest adventures, check out our recent blog posts.