Olympic National Park Travel Guide

  • Point of the Arches from Petroleum Creek
    Point of the Arches from Petroleum Creek
    by nomad67
  • Olympic National Park
    by goodfish
  • the lush Hoh Rainforest
    the lush Hoh Rainforest
    by richiecdisc

Olympic National Park Things to Do

  • The lovely Marymere Falls

    At Lake Crescent keep an eye out for the signs of the Storm King Ranger Station. There is a parking lot near Lake Crescent and here you will find the trail that leads through the forest over some foot bridges and over Barnes Creek to the Marymere Falls. The trail is about 1.5km (1 mile) from the parking lot to the waterfalls. It’s a beautiful walk...

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  • Sol Duc Falls

    On one of the days we stayed at Olympic National Park we visited the Sol Duc Valley where we walked to the Sol Duc Falls. These beautiful falls can be reached by walking the 1.5km (1 mi) trail from the parking lot. The parking lot is found at the end of the Sol Duc Road off Highway 101. We walked through a dense forest with little creeks and lots...

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  • Beautiful Lake Crescent

    We visited Lake Crescent while visiting Olympic National Park. We were planning on walking the Marymere Falls Trail which starts at Lake Crescent, so we figured we might as well enjoy the lake shore for a while. This lake is so beautiful and on a sunny day like we had you get to see that wonderful turquois colour it has. We walked on a small...

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Olympic National Park Hotels

Olympic National Park Restaurants

  • keep it simple, keep it tasty

    We like eating out as much as anyone but when you travel across country to visit a national park, you want to spend as much time in it as possible. Eating at campgrounds can be a chore and for some it is a nightmare but for us, it's part of what makes the parks special in the first place.Olympic's car campgrounds are all great, with lots of space...

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  • Deli in Forks

    There's a supermarket on 101 as you pass through Forks, and they have a deli counter where you can order sandwiches, chips, etc. There are not a lot of places to eat along the western side of the park, so this is an option. The name of the grocery store escapes me, but you won't be able to miss it (if you do, just turn around and go back - Forks is...

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  • Stop and rest. Drink coffee!

    The coffee shop is voted as the #1 coffee shop in Port Angeles. The coffee shop displays their awards they have received for so many years. I wondered why so we stopped by the coffee shop while we ate at the Subway. The restaurant has a great set up. There are leather couches that entice you to go and sit down just like you sit in your own living...

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Olympic National Park Nightlife

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    by richiecdisc Updated Nov 14, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There was one cool sounding pub in Port Angeles just outside the park but we had spent four days hitting many brewpubs in Seattle prior to coming to Olympic and we knew we would do another four on our return so we didn't feel pressed to check it out.

    Camping in the park is so nice it's a shame not to spend some time at your site. It's tough to beat sitting in the middle of the rainforest with a top notch beer in your hand and we had a cooler full of those. We also had many nights in Olympic's vast backcountry and this was the serenity we were seeking. Civilization is something we have all the time. When we were near the coast, we made sure to get to the beach for sunset. They are pretty spectacular on the Olympic Peninsula. Rialto was very convenient to our Mora Campground spot.

    Dress Code: Wear something warm. Even if you were lucky enough to not need it during the day, when the sun goes down so does the temperature.

    tough to top a Pacific sunset a ball of fire plunges into the Pacific
    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Photography
    • National/State Park

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Olympic National Park Transportation

  • From Seattle to the Olympic Peninsula

    It should not be that difficult to go between Seattle and Olympic National Park. After all, you just take the most direct route, right?Wrong! The most direct route, and the route that Google Maps and your GPS is most likely to send you, is north to Edmonds and the Edmonds - Kingston Ferry. This would be the fastest route - if it were not for the...

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  • Public Transit Options on the Olympic...

    As a general rule, it is best to get around on the Olympic Peninsula by driving, as there are many areas of the park that are not accessible by public transit. However, if you are put off by the horrific prices for car rentals, don't like driving on the wrong side of the road, want to hike through the park and get a bus back to your car, or just...

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  • Sail across the Sound

    This is the fun way to get to Olympic! The Washington State Ferries carry 26 million passengers a year across the Puget Sound to work in Seattle or to visit the the Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands. We chose the Seattle Main Terminal/ Bainbridge Island route and the handy website helped us figure out sailing times and approximate cost. Fares...

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Olympic National Park Shopping

  • you always need more

    We came to Olympic National Park stocked up on food and drink but no matter how much you bring with you, you always need something. Olympic National Park's gateway city of Port Angeles was a fair sized town with many supermarkets. We found Safeway on Highway 101 to carry everything we were looking for as well as being a pleasant place to shop. When...

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  • Buy Indian hand-carved totem poles

    The gallery is perched close to the road side overlooking the waters. The gallery is one among the buildings adjacent to the Indian community center. There are totem poles in front of the the complex which can be seen far away. The gallery offers a lot of native arts and crafts made by local residents and artists. There are paintings of the famous...

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  • Gift Shop

    High quality crafts are available as well as shirts, hats, jewelry, souvenir spoons and the type of things that you would find in a typical American resort gift shop. Where else can you buy a plush yellow stuffed banana slug?

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Olympic National Park Local Customs

  • spring is the time for wildflowers

    Spring is a relative thing. In the mountains it generally runs a little later due to the elevation and in years of great snow and late snow melt, it comes even later. We arrived in Olympic in early August to find it in very spring-like with regard to trail conditions and more pleasantly wildflowers. Thistle, Mountain Bluebells, and Alvalanch...

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  • don't drink the untreated water

    Though the water in Glacier National Park's vast backcountry looks pure, the presence of giardia makes it unsafe to drink in its untreated form. This parasite can wreck havoc on your system so it's best to filter, chemically treat, or boil water. Each system has its proponents, its pros and its cons. Boiling is very safe but you have to do it for 5...

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  • Move over Starbucks

    Coming from Vancouver, I know all about the west coast obsession with coffee, but the drive-through espresso huts all over Washington State, including in every tiny town, was a new one on me. A straw (to drink it with?) and a chocolate covered espresson bean is a customary addition to your cap. Much faster than Starbucks too!

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Olympic National Park Warnings and Dangers

  • Obey Warning Signs

    Parts of the park are very rugged and desolate. Emergency response may be difficult and require some time. There are a lot of steep drops with questionable footing so stay away from the edge. This is also bear country so always be on the lookout for bears and other wildlife. Do not feed the wildlife. Be extra careful crossing streams and creeks....

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  • Get permit for overnight wilderness...

    Permits are required when you stay overnight at the Olympic National Forest wilderness. There are seven ranger stations where you can obtain permits. Or you can call information. Also, don't use regular maps. You have to use a detailed topographic maps where you can obtain specific trails, primitive trails and pass. This map is called Into...

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  • Tides, Wild animals, Water

    Remember to get the tides before you leave on your trip, get them online, or at trail head. Check maps carefully, will indicate headlands that can only be crossed at low tide. Bear barels required for food, garbage, toothpaste, etc. Really it's for the squirels, raccons, etc. that go for your food (even damaging tents & backpacks)Have a good water...

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Olympic National Park Tourist Traps

  • Hurricane Ridge

    Unfortunately, most visitors to Olympic National Park only get one chance to see its alpine region and that is from Hurricane Ridge. While the view is nice enough, it can get quite crowded and you are not in for a serene commune with the Olympic Range. If you are content with seeing Mount Olympus from this vantage point, be sure to go early in the...

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  • Don't miss the Look-outs to view the...

    The drive to Highway 101 on the Olympic Peninsula is long and winding. Although the curves are smooth going up and down the hill, just take pre-cautionary measures. There are slow drivers especially those driving campers and RVs (recreational vehicles). While driving, we were looking at the lake but we can't really have a good view of the lake....

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  • Olympic National Park Hotels

    17 Hotels in Olympic National Park

    2 Reviews

Olympic National Park What to Pack

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    by richiecdisc Updated Nov 14, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: Olympic is a premier wilderness park and this is one place you can truly use a backpack to carry all you need for a multi-day camping trip. For those not so inclined a simple day pack will suffice for long beach walks or even shorter ones in the rain forest and alpine areas.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Pack layers of synthetic clothing for the highly changeable weather that is Olympic. The Pacific is cold and even on warm days, the breezes are cool. If it fogs up, the temperatures drop quickly. It can snow in alpine areas even in the summer so always carry warm gear including a warm hat. Sturdy water proof hiking boots are needed for all but the shortest beach walks and don't scrimp on socks. Your feet will thank you for it. Rain gear is essential in a park that gets 200 inches a year of precipitation. It is, after all, a rain forest in much of the area.

    Photo Equipment: A wide angle is great for bringing the foreground into your landscape photos and a zoom is like gold for shots of wildlife. Get one with image stabilization for less than optimal lighting. A tripod is needed for low light shots in the rain forest and for cute couple shots.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: This is a great park for camping. Bring a tent, synthetic sleeping bags, mats and a backpacking stove.

    Miscellaneous: Someone to share that half gallon of Tillamook ice cream with. No matter how much you backpack, you really shouldn't eat it all by yourself!

    using the wide-angle wide brimmed hat on a sunny day
    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Photography
    • Camping

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Olympic National Park Off The Beaten Path

  • Suggested Olympic Peninsula Loop

    [My original intent for this tip has changed over time. Originally it was to point out some of the lesser visited locations in Olympic National Park and thus the category of "Off the Beaten Path" but now it has turned more into a suggested loop of everything.]In recent years, the entire Olympic Peninsula has become a much more busy tourist...

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  • roosevelt elk

    Olympic National Park is not as noted a wildlife viewing park as Yellowstone but actually has one of the most diverse ecosystems of any park due to its many terrains. While many associate the park primarily with the coastal region and therefore have images of sea-based animals, the park is home to many inland mammals such as the Roosevelt Elk. In...

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  • sea otters can come true

    When you go to Africa, there are certain animals you want to see. Some are common, some less so. Everyone wants to see an elephant and they generally do. Not everyone sees a leopard. Sea otters are perhaps the most sought animal sighting in the Pacific Northwest. The rare and illusive creature is generally active at dusk and dawn which accounts for...

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Olympic National Park Sports & Outdoors

  • Sitka Spruce Trail

    This is a short unpaved trail by the largest Sitka Spruce tree in the park and several other large trees. The trailhead is along the Hoh Road.

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  • Hall of Mosses Trail

    The Hall of Mosses Trail is a 3/4 mile interpretive loop trail that teaches you a lot about the trees and mosses and other growths that inhabit these trees. The trail is relatively level except for a short ascent near the beginning. Very nice and interesting hike. The trailhead is by the Hoh Rain Forest Visitors Center. Good hiking shoes, water,...

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  • Hoh River Trail

    The Hoh River Trail is a long (up to 17.3 miles) difficult trail that follows the river. It connects with several other trails. This is one to take if you want to go backcountry. The trailhead is by the Hoh Rain Forest Visitors Center. Some of the trail is paved and some is not. I did not hike much of this trail. Good hiking shoes, water,...

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Olympic National Park Favorites

  • Hindsight 20/20

    Every now and again you make some regrettable travel decisions and we made 2 biggies on this trip. We'd opted to drive down the coast from Forks, exploring beaches along the way, and spend a night in Ocean Shores; outside of the park. We wanted to spend at least one night in an ocean-side room but Kalaloch accommodations were pricey and we could...

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  • Olympic National Park

    To me, one of the most beautiful places in Washington State is the Olympic Peninsula. Most of the peninsula is taken up by Olympic National Park. Olympic National Park pretty much has it all, mountains, lakes, rivers, rain forests, even beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Start your visit at one of the visitors centers where you can get maps of the park...

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  • A note about Forks

    A few years ago Stephenie Meyer penned a romance called "Twilight" about a young girl, named Bella, and a vampire, named Edward, and struck gold. So did the little down-on-its-luck logging town of Forks, Washington. Ms. Meyer needed a dark, spooky and very wet location for her story and upon discovering that Forks gets an average of 121 inches of...

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Comments (1)

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2014 at 3:36 AM

    Annual National Park Week is April 19-27 this year with lots of special events happening at the parks. Even better, Saturday 4/19 and Sunday 4/30 are FREE admission days so it's a great opportunity to pack up the car with family and/or friends and go check out one of our national treasures!

    http://www.nps.gov/npweek/

 
Explore Deeper into Olympic National Park
Hike: Shi Shi Beach
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The Hoh Rain Forest
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The Elwha
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Visit Second Beach near La Push
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Beautiful beaches at La Push
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Beautiful sunsets at Rialto Beach
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Don't miss Rialto Beach
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Spruce Trail
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Soleduck Trail
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Northfork Trail
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Ancient Groves Trail
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High Ridge Trail
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Cirque Rim Trail
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Big Meadow Trail
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Switchback Trail
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Boating in and Near the Park
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Kalaloch Area
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Drift Logs
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Tide Pools
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Hoh Pond
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Sea Stack
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Ruby Beach
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270 Feet!
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Burls
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Nurselogs
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Blowdowns
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Ferns and Mosses
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Hoh Visitors Center
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Sitka Spruce
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Hoh River
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Rain Forests in Olympic National Park
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Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort
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Salmon Cascades
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Sol Duc River
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Eagle Ranger Station
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Sol Duc Road
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Lake Crescent
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Lake Aldwell
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Viewpoint Cirque
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Carrie Glacier
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Map of Olympic National Park

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