National Parks

3 Day Itinerary for Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge ONP
See the view from Olympic National Park’s mountains on a clear day. Photo Credit: Jonah Ford

If you’re torn between a beach, mountain or national park getaway, find all of that at Olympic National Park. With several different ecosystems to explore, like temperate rainforests, you don’t have to choose. And it’s all a few hours from the Seattle Tacoma area on the Olympic Peninsula. Hotels.com wanted me to share a 3 day itinerary for Olympic National Park. 

During your getaway, hike through the mountaintop wildflowers then kayak across a blue lake surrounded by evergreens. Then head to the beach for tide pools followed by a rainforest hike through an old-growth forest. Add a ferry ride across the Puget Sound and consider it a scenic cruise.

A portion can be explored in one day at Olympic National Park though three days allows for a  complete drive around Olympic National Park. And this itinerary can be driven in either direction.

Where to Stay on the Olympic Peninsula

Most national parks are remote and Olympic National Park is no different. For the largest selection and most comfortable lodging, consider staying in a gateway town.  Find lodging, gas, dining and picnic supplies for your trip.

Port Angeles—Located along Strait of Juan de Fuca, it offers ferry service from Washington and Canada’s British Columbia. Find lodging, dining and shopping along with the Olympic National Park Visitor Center at 3002 Mt. Angeles Rd.

Sequim—Located along Strait of Juan de Fuca, it’s closer to the Seattle area. Find ferry service to Washington and BC. Find lodging, dining and shopping along with lavender farms in the summer.

Forks—Located near the beach section of Olympic National Park. The NPS Recreation Information Station is located in Forks. 

Day 1 

Start at Hurricane Ridge.
Have a picnic around Lake Crescent.
Take a soak in the Sol Duc.

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge offers warm weather hiking and cold weather snow sports. Learn about Mt. Olympus (elevation 7,980 ft, 2,432 m) and its glaciers. If the weather is clear, you see all the way to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  

From Port Angeles, the drive to Hurricane Ridge takes about an hour. First you drive through old growth forests as the road ascends pass the tree line. Then find meadows with wildflowers during the summer or covered in snow in winter. 

Start at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to learn about the mountains and glaciers in Olympic National Park. Get information and maps for your visit. If you have time, watch the short documentary at the visitor center. 

Find several hiking trails near the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Located 17 miles south of Port Angeles, open daily during the summer. Weekends only during the winter due to snow. 

Meadow Loop Trail—Trails from .25 to .50-mile departs from the parking lot. 

Hurricane Hill—A 1.6-mile one-way trail that departs from the end of Hurricane Ridge Road. 700-foot elevation gain. 

Klahhane Ridge—A 2.8-mile trail that joins the Klahhane Ridge Switchback Trail. Departs from the Visitor Center. 

Night Sky Programming at Hurricane Ridge

Learn about the stars in a guided night sky program with a Master Observer and telescopes. 

Lake Crescent Area

Lake Crescent is located 20 miles westt of Port Angeles, Washington, along U.S. Highway 101 that rings Olympic National Park. The glacial blue water of Lake Crescent is surrounded by evergreen forests making a stunning landscape.

Head to Bovee’s Meadow for picnic tables. Grab-and-Go food is available at Log Cabin Resort. Picnic and camping supplies are at Fairholme Store.

Water Sports at Lake Crescent

Rent a paddleboard, kayak or canoe at Lake Crescent Lodge by the hour or day. Explore the clear lake in the morning for the calmest water. 

Boat tours are also available. Departing from Lake Crescent Lodge, the guided tour lasts an hour-and-a-half. Additional admission.

Hiking around Lake Crescent

Visit Storm King Ranger Station (open seasonally) for information and a starting point for several hikes. 

Marymere Falls–A .9-mile one-way trail departing from Storm King Ranger Station for a stunning view of the 90-foot waterfall.

The Moments in Time Nature Trail–A .6-mile loop, perfect for those wanting a shorter hike.

Lake Crescent Lodge offers guided hikes at 9 a.m. a couple times a week. 

Art Programming

Lake Crescent offers occasional water color painting groups.

Explore the natural pools at Sol du Lac in Olympic National Park.
Kids need a swim? Dive into the pools at the Sol Duc Hot Springs. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Sol Duc

Enjoy a soak in a mineral-rich hot springs during your visit to the Olympic National Park. Find a family-friendly environment at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort with a fresh-water swimming pool and three small soaking pools. 

Each pool offers a different temperature. The swimming pool’s temperature varies with the season from 50 to 85F/10 to 30C. The largest soaking pool  is 101F/38C. The medium pool is 104F or 40C. The smallest pool starts at  99F/37C.

My kids spent the majority of their time in the fresh-water pool while I relaxed in the hot springs. I could keep an eye on them while soaking. Kids under 4 must remain in the coolest hot spring pool.

Also find changing rooms, a restaurant, cabins and lodge rooms.

Located at12076 Sol Duc Hot Springs Rd. Open daily from 9 a.m to 8 p.m. (and 9 p.m. in the summer) from late April until the end of October. Adult admission is $15 and kids 4 to 11 are $11. The Hot Springs are open to cabin guests only for the 2020 season.

During the fall, the Salmon Cascades Overlook offers one of the best places to see the migration of the salmon. 

Day 2

Explore the Hoh Rainforest.
Drive to the Beach area of Olympic National Park.
Explore Olympic National Park at Lake Quinault Lodge with kids.
Hike a rainforest trail in Olympic National Park. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Hoh Rain Forest Area

With 140 inches of annual rain, the conifers and deciduous trees are dripping in green moss. The best way to see the rainforest is to hike through it. 

Hiking in the Hoh Rain Forest

Find two hiking trails near the Visitor Center. 

Hall of Mosses Trail—a .8-mile trail

Spruce Nature Trail—a 1.2-mile trail

For longer trails, try the Hoh trails. Both require advance preparation and the use of bear canisters.

Hoh River Trail–a 17.3-mile wilderness hike.

Hoh Lake Trail–a 6.4-mile trail. 

Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center offers maps and information though no food. Located at 18113 Upper Hoh Rd. Open daily in the summer with varying day and hours for the rest of year. Closed January and February. 

Explore the beaches of Olympic National Park with kids.
Explore the beaches of Olympic National Park to see tide pools. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Kalaloch Beach Area

Olympic National Park protects 65 miles of Pacific Ocean shoreline. Spend a beach day building sand castles or flying kites. Or learn about the unique marine life of Olympic by visiting a tide pool at low tide. 

See whales in the spring and fall from the beaches in Olympic National Park too.

Kalaloch Ranger Station 

Find out about the marine life at the Kalaloch Ranger Station. Ranger talks or guided walks during the summer. Check the daily tide schedule for tide pooling nearby. 

Located at 156954 US Highway 101, Forks. Open with varying hours and closed in the winter.

Hiking around Kalaloch 

Kalaloch Nature Trail—A 1.0-mile round trip loop, including some stairs. Located near Kalaloch campground. 

Beach Trails—Beaches are accessed by beach trails, some with viewpoints. 

Explore the tide pools of Olympic National Park with kids.
Giant green anemone. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Tidepooling in Olympic National Park 

Ruby Beach and Beach 4 offer easy-to-access tide pools. First look up the low tide and arrive before the peak of low tide. 

You might see a giant green anemone that looks like a green flower, ochre sea stars, ribbed Iimpets and acorn barnacles. 

Note: Non-slip water shoes are a must. Watch for sneaker waves. 

Day 3 

Explore the Lake Quinault Rainforest 
Enjoy Lake Quinault Lodge with kids.
Lake Quinault Lodge in the Olympic National Forest was featured in the PBS series, Great Lodges of the National Parks. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Lake Quinault Area

On the southern edge of Olympic National Park, it meets Olympic National Forest. The temperate rainforests offer shaded trails dripping with moss in every shade of green.

Take a hike along the rainforest trails where streams and small waterfalls break the silence of the spruce and cedar forests. Additionally find water activities at Lake Quinault.

Hiking around Lake Quinault

Lake Quinault offers trails, a ranger station and a general store for snacks.

Rain Forest Trail–A .5-mile loop

Graves Creek Nature Trail–A 1-mile loop

Quinault Loop Trail–A 4 to 8-mile loop trail

Be sure and hike to the world’s largest Sitka spruce on the .3-mile trail, located close to the Lake Quinault Post Office.

Activities at Lake Quinault

Rent SUPs, kayaks and canoes for rent by-the-hour or by-the-day at Lake Quinault Lodge. Lake Quinault Lodge also offers three different guided boat tours.

The Quinault Rainforest Tour is a four-hour guided tour available year-round. 

Wildflower in Olympic National Park
See summertime wildflowers in Olympic National Park. Photo Credit: Jonah Ford

History of Olympic National Park 

People started to protect the Olympic Peninsula in 1890s when it was first proposed as a national park. In 1897, President Cleveland created the Olympic Forest Preserve then later a national forest. 

In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt created the Mount Olympus National Monument, named after its highest point. Then in 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt created Olympic National Park. It received its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 1981. 

People of the Olympic Peninsula 

Living close to the rivers in Olympic National Park, the first people in the area hunted and fished. The Hoh People live near the Hoh River. And the Quileute People live near the Quileute River. The Ozette People live near the Ozette River. 

Also the Makah People and the Quinault People live close to the Olympic National Park. 

Kids in Olympic National Park 

The Junior Ranger Program offers families a way to discover a national park site together in about 2 hours. Olympic National Park offers kids a couple of Junior Ranger patches and badges to earn.

Find Olympic National Park Junior Ranger booklets at visitor centers and ranger stations. At the visitor center, kids can check out a Discovery Packet, a backpack filled with field guides, binoculars and magnifying lens to explore Olympic National Park more thoroughly.

The Ocean Stewards Patch guides kids 4 and up through the diverse marine life in the park. And kids get a souvenir patch.

The main Olympic National Park Visitor Center offers a Discovery Room for kids to explore. Located at 3002 Mount Angeles Rd. 

Read More

Junior Ranger Guide
National Parks of Washington

Animals in Olympic National Park 

Animals spotting is one of the top activities on any national park adventure. Find the following animals in Olympic National Park. 

Black Bear

Black Deer

Roosevelt Elk

Wolverines

Cougar

Mountain Goat 

Olympic Marmots

Whales 

Sea Lions

Seals

Otters 

Salmon

Weather in Olympic National Park 

Pack for rain no matter the season. Snow begins to fall in early fall in the mountain region. The eastern portion of the park is wetter than the western portion. 

Spring is temperate though a bit cool. It’s important to check the road conditions due to rain or snow. Summer is high season with warm, not hot, temperatures and the most sun. Fall sees more precipitation. Prepare for winter travel if visiting. 

Find a wide range in temperatures during all seasons since the elevation in Olympic National Park ranges from sea level to nearly 8,000 feet (2,400m). Check the weather forecast before your getaway. 

Winter Trips to Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge

As the epicenter of the winter fun in Olympic National Park, find snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding along with tubing and sledding. 

Join a guided snowshoe trek with a Park Ranger on weekends at 2 p.m. Additional fee and snowshoes are provided. 

Visit the Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area for downhill skiing and snowboarding along with tubing. Additional lift tickets are required and start at $20 a day.

Lodging in Olympic National Park 

National Park lodges offer unplugged escapes. 

Lake Crescent Lodge—Built in 1915, find lakeside cabins and cottages along with lodge rooms, some featuring fireplaces. Find dining on site. Located at 416 Lake Crescent Rd. 

Kalaloch Lodge—With ocean views, choose from lodge rooms in the Main Lodge, cozy cabins and rooms with fireplaces. Find dining on site. Located at 157151 U.S. Highway 101.

Log Cabin Resort—Find lots of log cabins, lodge rooms and a RV park. Find dining on site. Located at 3183 East Beach Rd. 

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort—Find a range of cabins along with a RV park, steps from the hot springs. Find dining on site. Located at 12076 Sol Duc Hot Springs Rd. 

Lake Quinault Lodge—Right outside the park in Olympic National Forest. Find dining on site. Located at 345 South Shore Rd. 

Read More

Lake Quinault Lodge 
Put the largest spruce tree on your Olympic National Park to-do list. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Camping in Olympic National Park 

Deerpark Campground

  • June to October only
  • 14 sites, RVs not allowed
  • First-come, first-served
  • Pit Toilets and no running water

Fairholme Campground

  • Year-round (opening in Fall 2020) 
  • 88 sites, some RV sites with a dump station 
  • First-come, first-served
  • Flush Toilets and potable water

Graves Creek Campground

  • Year-round
  • 30 sites, RVs not allowed
  • First-come, first-served
  • Pit Toilets and no running water

Heart O the Hills Campground

  • Year-round
  • 105 sites, some RV sites with no dump station
  • First-come, first-served
  • Flush Toilets and potable water

Hoh Campground

  • Year-round
  • 78 sites, some RV sites with no dump station
  • First-come, first-served
  • Flush Toilets and potable water

Kalaloch Campground

  • Year-round
  • 170 sites, some RV sites with a dump station
  • Reservations accepted in the summer
  • Flush Toilets and potable water

Mora Campground

  • Year-round
  • 94 sites, some RV sites with a dump station
  • Reservations accepted in the summer
  • Flush Toilets and potable water

Ozette Campground

  • Year-round
  • 15 sites, some RV sites with no dump station
  • First-come, first-served
  • Pit Toilets and potable water

Queets Campground 

  • Year-round
  • 20 sites, RVs not allowed 
  • First-come, first-served
  • Pit Toilets and no running water

Sol Duc Campground 

  • Year-round (opening in Fall 2020)
  • 82 sites, some RV sites with a dump station
  • Reservations accepted in the summer
  • Flush Toilets and potable water

South Beach Campground 

  • Open in summer only
  • 55 sties, some RV sites with no dump station
  • First-come, first-served
  • Flush Toilets and no potable water

Staircase Campground

  • Year-round
  • 49 sites, some RV sites with no dump station
  • First-come, first-served
  • Flush Toilets and potable water in summer only. 

Where’s Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is on the Olympic Peninsula, west of Seattle, Washington. Port Angeles and Sequim offer ferry service from both Washington and Canada.

Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station at the southern entrance of Olympic National Park is 146 miles from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, in the northeast portion of the park, is 147 miles away from the airport.

Getting Around Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $30 per vehicle.

Olympic National Parks is not a drive-through park, meaning roads don’t bisect the park. U.S. Route 101 wraps around the Olympic Peninsula and park roads dead-end at ranger stations or visitor centers.

No reliable public transportation around the park.

Read More

National Park Passes
National Park Books

Disclosure

This post was sponsored by Hotels.com.

Know Before You Go

Traveling today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind as you explore. If you’re comfortable traveling, please travel responsibly and within regulations since travel is at your own risk.

If you do decide to travel, here are our recommendations:

• Wear a face mask.

• Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis.

• Check official websites and a destination’s Facebook page before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures and status of local businesses.

• Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans at the last minute.

Explore Washington's Olympic National Park for a weekend getaway packed with mountain top wildflowers, rainforest hikes, pristine beaches with tide pools, and lake lodges with tours and boats. Even find a hot springs resort inside the Pacific Northwest park. Get all the information you need to plan your trip to a top US National Park like hotels, cabins and camping, best hikes and what to pack in this comprehensive guide. #NPS #NationalParks #Washington #OlympicNationalPark What to do in Olympic National Park | Where to stay near Olympic National Park | Best 3 Day Itinerary for Olympic National Park | National Parks near Seattle

 

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