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Ultimate Guide to Olympic National Park, Washington

Ultimate Guide to Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park is a very rainy place. Even if you go during the summer months, known as the “dry season”, it still may pour! Check the current park status before you go and plan accordingly. No matter what season you go, be prepared for rain, then cross your fingers and hope for sunny skies. Olympic NP has a highway that circles the base of the mountain with spurs that travel in towards the center. You will have to choose to travel the loop clockwise or counter-clockwise. Below I have outlined my trip with all my favorite stops along the way, going counter-clockwise around the park.


1. Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center

Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center is a good place to begin your trip. Grab maps, brochures, and snacks before you soak up the beautiful views right outside your car.  Hurricane Ridge has a number of hiking trails, from ridgetop traverses to steep trails that descend to subalpine lakes and valleys, such asCirque Rim Trail or Switchback Trail. Obstruction Point Road branches off right before the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, and provides access to a variety of trails as well. Get more information about the Visitor’s Center here. 

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2. Lake Crescent

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3. HIKE

 

Marymere Falls Trail 

Distance / 1.8 miles RT
Elevation Gain / 393 ft. climb 
Route Type /
Out and Back
Rating /
Easy
Trailhead /
Storm King Ranger Station

 


4. Lake Crescent Lodge


5. Camp at Sol Duc Campground

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6. Sol Duc Hot Springs

Grab coffee and take a dip in the hot springs. There is also lodging at the resort. Get more information here.

Image from OlympicNationalParks.com

7. HIKE

 
Sol Duc Falls Trail 

Distance / 1.6 miles RT
Elevation Gain / 282 ft. climb 
Route Type /
Out and Back
Rating /
Easy
Trailhead /
Storm King Ranger Station

 


8. Cape Flattery

The most northwest most tip of the continental United States. The views are breathtaking.

 


9. Shi Shi Beach

Beach camping available. Sea stacks with bold arches, intriguing tunnels and amazing tide pools.

Image from GQ.com

10. HIKE

Hole in the Wall Trail 

Distance / 3.9 miles RT
Elevation Gain / 
357 ft. climb 
Route Type /
Out and Back
Rating /
Easy
Trailhead /
Rialto Beach

You won’t want to miss the starfish and other sea creatures habitations in the daily tide pools. Make sure to time your trip with the ocean currents to have the best chance to see them. This is just one spot but here are many other beaches that have tide pools as well.

Image from SeattleTimes.com

 


11. Forks, WA 

Twilight fans geek out in Forks where the movie was filmed

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 12. Hoh Campground

Hoh the campsites are amazing. Towering trees with hanging moss dripping over top your tent. You feel like you just set camp in the middle of Jurassic Park. The whole campground is magical and I would make sure you carve out some time to wander around and enjoy a fire and friends while you are there. Get more information here.


13. HIKE

Hurricane Hill

Distance / 3.2 miles RT
Elevation Gain / 741 ft. climb 
Route Type / Out and Back
Rating / Moderate
Trailhead / 1.5 miles beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center

 

 

Hall of Mosses 

Distance / 1 miles RT
Elevation Gain / 
75  ft. climb 
Route Type /
Loop
Rating /
Easy
Trailhead /
Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center

 

 

Spruce Nature Trail

Distance / 1.4 miles RT
Elevation Gain / 
9  ft. climb 
Route Type /
Loop
Rating /
Easy
Trailhead /
Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center

 


14. Ruby Beach

The most photographed beaches in Olympic NP. Driftwood, evergreens, rocky coast and jagged islands jutting out all over the coast. It’s truly a beach you will never forget


15. Tree Root Cave by the Kalaloch Campground

 

Image from TheKalalochLodge.com

16. Lake Quinault Lodge

I love national park lodges and I’ve been to plenty but this was one of my favorites. It feels like you have been swept back into time and taken to a summer camp (for adults). The historic lodge has all the typical rustic wood charm and features. Along with a grand lobby to play checkers or sit by the fire. But then you can grab a cocktail from the lobby bar and whisk outside to the lawn. Sit in an adirondack chair on the beach around a fire and do not miss the sunsets. They are out of this world. Try to get a lake view room. Get more information about Lake Quinault Lodge here.


 17. HIKE

 

Rainforest Nature Trail

Distance / 1.4 miles RT
Elevation Gain / 184  ft. climb 
Route Type / Loop
Rating / Easy
Trailhead / Quinault Rain Forest Trailhead or take the Quinault Loop Trail from the Quinault Lake Lodge  

In the morning meander out the back door of the Lodge and to the Rain Forest Nature Trail that wraps around the lake and into the forest. Leaving from the lodge adds another .5  miles to the trail. 

 


Trail Sources:

Learn more about the trails I mentioned at the Washington Trail Association.  You will not be disappointed with the abundance of activities as well as lush greenery of the Olympic Pennensylia! Enjoy!


Follow my Olympic National Park Pinterest Board for more trip ideas!  

View more photos from Olympic National Park 

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