Olympic National Park is a place of incredibly diverse landscapes, plant life and animals, all conveniently located within a few hours of each other on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Here, you can stand on a glacially carved mountaintop, splash your toes in the Pacific Ocean, and wander under some of the largest trees on the planet – all in the same day.
The park’s living things are just as exciting as the terrain. Sitka spruce, hemlock and western red cedar trees stretch hundreds of feet high, while huge ferns, mosses and lichens transform the understory into an emerald paradise. Animals as varied as black bears, sea otters, marmots, bald eagles, harbor seals, gray whales and salamanders make their homes here. And hundreds of miles of hiking trails criss-cross the park, letting visitors experience this one-of-a-kind place up close.
People come to Olympic from all over the world to walk in alpine meadows, climb glaciers, watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, paddle crystal-clear lakes, see burbling waterfalls, peer into tidepools, and stroll under the canopy of giant trees. It’s an unforgettable destination, whether you have a day or a lifetime to explore it.
The main route of the tour is Highway 101, which acts like a ring-road of the northern and western part of the park. There are several roads that side trip deeper into the park and you absolutely should take those spur roads. Hurricane Ridge takes us into the alpine; Hoh takes us into the rainforest; and Sol Duc takes us to hot springs. A circuit of Lake Quinault is highly recommended too. One of the most unique aspects to Olympic is that it also protects sometimes wild Pacific Beaches. Many are accessed directly from Highway 101, while Rialto Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach require a small detour.
Aberdeen, Port Angeles or Port Townsend
Recommend at least 2 days.
Approximately 160 miles between Discovery Bay and Lake Quinault, plus suggested side trips including Hurricane Ridge (18 miles each way), Hoh Rainforest (18 miles each way) and the Lake Quinault Loop Drive (25 miles).
Covering almost one million acres in the north-west of Washington State, Olympic National Park is renowned for the diversity of its ecosystems with an incredible range of precipitation and elevation. Recognized as a World Heritage Site, the park protects a vast wilderness, thousands of years of human history, and different ecosystems from glacier-capped mountains to old-growth temperate rain forests, as well as over 70 miles of wild coastline.
Olympic National Park is known for its incredible diversity of distinctly different ecosystems within the park: a rugged coastline, glacier-capped mountain peaks, temperate rainforest and old-growth rain forest. These ecosystems all exist within the park thanks the vast range of precipitation and elevation. It’s a place of incredibly diverse landscapes, plant life and animals, all conveniently located within a few hours of each other on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Here, you can stand on a glacially carved mountaintop, splash your toes in the Pacific Ocean, and wander under some of the largest trees on the planet – all in the same day.
Summer (June to August) is the busiest and most popular time to visit Olympic National Park, with mild weather and the lowest rainfall. The best time of year for sightseeing is late spring through early fall, when most of the snow has melted from the high country, precipitation is lower and the landscape is lush. The rainy season begins again in fall, but you’ll find shorter lines in May and September in comparison to summer.
From the lush canopy of the temparate rain and old growth forests, to the sandy beaches of the wild coast, or the majestic overlooks of rugged, glacier-capped mountains, Olympic National Park has a great deal to offer. Some of the most popular activities in the park are boating, hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing and tidepooling.
Access to Hurricane Ridge area is currently closed beyond the Heart of the Hills entrance station due to a recent fire during renovations, check the nps.gov website for updates.