Olympic National Park

The Olympic National Park (ONP) well represents the authentic Pacific Northwest. Discover inspiration and activities, both rugged and genteel, for every person in each season.

If ever there was a Do-Not-Miss experience, the Olympic Nat'l Park is it.

The ONP is a jewel, no matter where you look. Occupying 1,442 square miles of the 3,600 square mile Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, the park embraces a vast area of pristine wilderness, from mountain crags and glaciers to the rugged coast and sea stacks of Washington State.

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Below: Spectacular views to both the north and the south from the vantage point of Hurricane Ridge.

Vacation in the Olympic Natl Park! 
Put a visit to the Park at the TOP of your bucket list, and allow plenty of time for the experience.

Stay IN the park at Olympic National Park Lodging

Olympic National Park Camping at 14 Campgrounds within the Park

Photographic Overview of the Olympic National Park

Why the Olympic National Park is a 'must-see' destination:

1) You'll find 73 miles of rugged and wild coastlines in the Olympic National Park.

At the ONP beaches, you’ll discover sea stacks of rocky outcroppings separated from the mainland, with fir, Sitka spruce and cedar perched atop them. You’ll encounter river mouths, tide pools, driftwood, and sandy beaches. You’ll find polished rocks and tumbled sea glass. If you had a swim or surfing in mind, you’ll need a full wetsuit – the water is a frigid 45 – 53 degrees (F) year round. Don't forget your camera, and you might also want to bring wading boots - a few of the sea stacks are accessible during low tides. 

2) You'll find an impressive array of wildlife:

Below: Salmon spawning in a tributary of the Hoh River. This picture
was taken in early January not far from the Visitor Center in the Hoh Rain Forest.

3) You'll find a temperate climate rain forest.

The Hoh, Queets, and Quinault Rain Forests are part of the only temperate rain forest climate system in the USA. This system stretches along the entire coastline from Kodiak Island in Alaska through Washington and Oregon to the redwoods in northern California's "fog-belt." Learn more about temperate rain forest plants here.

See our Photo iTour of the Hoh Rain Forest here

According to the National Park Service, “the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest produce three times the biomass (living or once living material) of tropical rain forests.” I believe it – the majesty and the size of the giant trees, some of them up to 300 feet tall and 2 millennia old with girths of over 18 feet (6m), and the dense green and well-watered ecosystem is a thing to behold. 

4) You'll find a heavy wintertime snow blanket in the higher altitudes.

All the better for winter sports activities and photography buffs! 

From October through May, and sometimes June as well, the Olympic National Park is blanketed in 1-10 feet of snow from the altitude of a couple thousand feet and higher. The snow enhances the beauty of the region and provides snow activities for the entire family at Hurricane Ridge.

(Below: Snowboarding on the slopes of Hurricane Ridge on a glorious New Years Day.)

Recommended attractions and destinations within the Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles WA:

3002 Mt Angeles Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98362

Stop at any of the Visitor Centers and pick up free flyers and newsletters, get updates as to current road conditions or closures (their website is not always up to date), and ask the park rangers any questions you may have. Whether you stop at one before or after your trek around the Olympic National Park, you’ll find some wonderful keepsakes, gifts, and souvenirs for purchase.

Hurricane Ridge
The favorite destination within the entire ONP. Perhaps this is due to the incredible views, or perhaps it is because it is accessible to persons of all capabilities. From the Hurricane Ridge you can take an easy stroll, or a strenuous hike. Keep an eye out for Olympic marmots.

The name is no joke; it may be cool and breezy at any time of the year. In the summer, bring bug repellent or long sleeves.

You can even enjoy Hurricane Ridge in winter.

Madison Falls
This scenic waterfall is a very short hike/stroll away from Olympic Hot Springs Road just 2 miles from its junction with Hwy 101 near the Elwha Bridge. It is a great place to picnic, hike, or snap photos.

Marymere Falls
The access point to Marymere Falls is near Lake Crescent and is well marked. The hike to the falls is long enough that you'll know you’ve had a hike, but is not overly strenuous.

Lake Crescent WA and Lake Crescent Lodge
The stunning beauty and mystique can be absorbed with a picnic or photo stop, or by spending the day or evening at Lake Crescent Lodge.

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort
From this rustic hotel nestled in the crook of the mountains and surrounded by towering evergreens, enjoy leisurely soaks in the hot spring pools. If you’re up for a hike, Sol Duc Falls is just a short 0.8 mile hike one way through primordial forest. The smells are glorious and you might even find trillium photo opportunities.

Salmon Cascades

Find the Salmon Cascades along the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road just beyond Lake Crescent. Late September and most of October are prime opportunities to witness the inexorable drive of spawning salmon knocking themselves out to reach their spawning grounds upriver. It will be a remarkable experience and an excellent lesson in perseverance. See more info at Washington Rain Forest.

Click here for photo iTour of Salmon Cascades and Ancient Grove in the Sol Duc Valley

Ancient Groves
If there is no opportunity for you to visit the Hoh or Quinault Rain Forests, the Ancient Groves adjacent to the Salmon Cascades will give you a sense of the magic and majesty of the temperate rain forest in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
See photos and more info at Washington Rain Forest.

Hoh Rain Forest
Step back in time a few thousand years. You might almost expect a dinosaur to peak through the curtains of moss. It is clear to see why the Hoh Rainforest is a favorite day-trip for those visiting the Olympic National Park. If it just happens to be raining, it is this rain that is responsible for the amazingly lush, verdant, yet chilly biome. Be prepared with a raincoat or umbrella. 
See a photo i-tour of the Hoh Rain Forest

Quinault Rain Forest
The "Valley of the Rain Forest Giants" is located within the Quinault Rain Forest. Supported by over 12 feet of rain per year (bring rain gear!), be amazed by enormous Sitka Spruce, cedars, hemlocks, and Douglas Firs. The Lake Quinault Lodge sits on the edge of the water amidst the giant trees where you will find tranquility as well as adventure.

Visit Ozette Lake and hike the popular 9 mile loop down to Sand Point and Cape Alava on the coast and back. Parts of the trail are boardwalk. You’ll experience both rain forests, cedar swamps and a stretch of scenic beach hiking, if the tide is low enough. (Overland trails are available during high tide.) See petroglyphs and bald eagles.

Rugged Beaches of Washington’s coastline
Who needs nothing but sand and saltwater when you can encounter rugged sea stacks withstanding the pounding of the Pacific Ocean? The vistas are unforgettable. On some beaches driftwood of all sizes is plentiful. The Olympic National Park is home to Shi Shi Beach, Ozette (Cape Alava and Sand Point), Rialto Beach, First, Second and Third Beaches, Ruby Beach, Beach 1, 2, 3, and 4, Kalaloch Beach, and South Beach.

Miles and miles of hiking trails
The Olympic National Park is criss-crossed with hiking trails. You'll also find camping areas in the remote back-waters and mountain slopes, some of which involve 15+ mile hikes. If you like, you can hike from the Dungeness Forks above Sequim Bay up, over and through the entire Olympic National Park, and come out of the mountains at Graves Creek. Hopefully you’ve stashed a vehicle there, where you can drive the 10 miles or so to Lake Quinault Lodge and rest for the evening.

Nearby destinations on the
Olympic Peninsula:

Combine a visit to any of these intriguing places, events or vistas with your visit to the Olympic National Park, if you have the time and/or interest. These places are not part of the ONP:

Olympic National Park
Mountain Peaks

The Olympic National Park contains 44 significant mountain peaks within its borders. Glaciers cloak the peaks of many of them. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center has a relief map showing exactly where to find each one. Here they are, ranked according to height:

  • Mount Storm King (4534 ft)
  • Sourdough Mountain (4600 ft)
  • Pelton Peak (5301 ft)
  • Kimta Peak (5399 ft)
  • Bogachiel Peak (5474 ft)
  • Dodger Point (5753 ft)
  • Hurricane Hill (5757 ft)
  • O’Neill Peak (5758 ft)
  • Muncaster Mountain (5910 ft)
  • Mount Wilder (5928 ft)
  • Mount Brotherton (5960 ft)
  • Mount Lena (5995 ft)
  • Mount Appleton (6000 ft)
  • Blue Mountain (6007 ft)
  • Mount Cruiser (6104 ft)
  • Mount Christie (6177 ft)
  • Mount Dana (6209 ft)
  • Mount Seattle (6246 ft)
  • White Mountain (6400 ft)
  • Maiden Peak (6434 ft)
  • Mount Skokomish (6434 ft)
  • Mount Angeles (6454 ft)
  • Mount Queets (6480 ft)
  • Sentinel Peak (6592 ft)
  • McCartney Peak (6728 ft)
  • Elk Mountain (6764 ft)
  • Baldy (6797 ft)
  • Mount Claywood (6836 ft)
  • The Brothers (6866 ft)
  • Chimney Peak (6911 ft)
  • Mount Carrie (6995 ft)
  • Mount Anderson (7330 ft)
  • Mount Constance (7743 ft)
  • Mount Deception (7788 ft)
  • Mount Olympus (7980 ft) – West, Middle and East Peaks

Many of the mountains and peaks of the Olympic Nat'l Park are visible from Hurricane Ridge. Children toboggan atop a dozen feet of snow on a frigid, early-January day.Many of the mountains and peaks of the Olympic Nat'l Park are visible from Hurricane Ridge. Children toboggan atop a dozen feet of snow on a frigid, early-January day.

The Olympic National Park protects the finest features of the Olympic Peninsula in order to preserve them for the enjoyment and education of future generations.

Olympic National Park Website - Basic Information

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