Guide to Visiting Olympic National Park
One of my absolute favorite US National Parks, the shear variety of environments makes Olympic National Park worth visiting. Explore snow covered mountains, rugged coastlines, and the beautiful temperate rainforest. Located on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, you should plan a few days at a minimum to explore this National Park.
Below you can find essential information for visiting Olympic National Park including the best time to visit, the highlights and general information to help you plan your visit. You can also find links to explore more specific information. The goal is to give you an overview of Olympic National Park without overwhelming you with all the details.
Essential Guides to Olympic Canyon National Park
Highlights of Olympic Canyon National Park
- Hurricane Ridge with incredible mountain views
- Hoh Rainforest
- Obstruction Point
- Deer Park & Blue Mountain
- Lake Crescent
- Storm King
- Rialto Beach (or one of the other beaches along the coastal walk)
- Olympic Discover Trail
- Sol Duc Hot Springs
Things to Know About Visiting Olympic National Park
Best Time to Visit Olympic National Park
The best time to visit Olympic National Park is during the late spring, summer and early fall. The region is temperate and rarely gets excessively hot, but the park (especially the rainforest) receives significant rainfall throughout the year. Summer is the busiest time in the park, but it is also the most crowded.
Since there are several regions to visit in Olympic National Park, you should make sure that you know the weather in each location. The weather (and snow cover) on Hurricane Ridge is much different compared to the coast. It’s not uncommon to see snow fall in September and snow lasts in the mountains all year long. The park is open all year long, and winter can be a great time to visit the coast and rainforest.
How to Get to Olympic National Park
The best way to get to Olympic National Park is to fly (or drive) into the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. From here you will want to rent a car and drive out to the park. Depending on where you are staying in the National Park, you may want to drive south around Puget Sound, or you can take your car across on one of the ferries and drive out to the Peninsula from here (it’s about a 90 minutes drive after a short ferry crossing).
You can also drive to Olympic National Park from directly south in Southern Washington and Oregon. Finally it is also possible to take a ferry to Olympic National Park from Vancouver Island. We did this on our more recent visit and enjoyed seeing Victoria as well as Vancouver Island.
Need to Know Olympic Mountains
Olympic National Park is made up of several distinct areas each with different ecosystems and environments. The park covers nearly 1 million acres and some areas are very remote.
Mountain Region: this is by far the largest part of the park. The mountains are circular so you can only really access the mountains from outside the circle, which means the inner part of the Olympic National Park mountains is very very remotes. The easiest way to get up into the mountains is via Hurricane Ridge.
The Western and Northern slope: Coming out of the mountains on the north and west, the land gradually gets lower and you can find many of the most popular places to visit including the temperature rainforests and Lake Crescent.
The Coast: One of the best parts of Olympic National Park is the gorgeous coastline. A thin stretch of coastline stretches along Olympic National Park and the Pacific Ocean. You can visit one of the beaches here, or hike the almost 73 mile trail that connects many of these beaches and camp along the way.
How Much Time do you Need in Olympic National Park?
As mentioned above, there is a lot to see in Olympic National Park and it is not all located close to each other. At a minimum, you should plan at least a weekend to hit the highlights and if you have more time, I recommend 5 or more days to see the different environments and do some of the longer hikes.
Lodging Near Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is relatively remote, but you can find a few small towns with good options for places to stay on the Olympic Peninsula.
There are 4 campgrounds within Olympic National Park where you can make reservations in advance: Fairholme, Kalaloch, Mora, and Hoh Rain Forest, and more that can be visited on a first come first served basis.
If you are looking for a cabin or hotel nearby, check out:
The Cabins at Beaver Creek: This is a great option for families and lovely cabins about 30 miles from Sol Duc Hot Springs.
Juan De Fuca Cottages: Located in Sequim, this is a great option with a beach, game room, and BBQ set up.
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites North Sequim: This is a good location in Sequim and includes breakfast and a pool.
Olympic Lodge: This lovely lodge is close to the mountains and near Port Angeles. This is a great lodge that includes breakfast.
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