Looking for the top 10 things to do in Olympic National Park? You will not be disappointed. Olympic National Park offers nature at its best in a wild, vast wilderness. Walk pristine sandy beaches and rocky shores of the Pacific coast.
See breathtaking glacier-capped mountains. Experience thick, lush rainforests where some of the world’s largest and oldest trees exist. Gigantic Douglas firs, towering Sitka spruce and massive Western redcedar trees reach for the stars above. Stunning lakes display their reflective beauty and rivers wind through nature’s playground.
Travel to Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park had been on my list of must-get-to-one-day-soon destinations in the Pacific Northwest, but it took nearly 20 years to get here. We made sure to go in the shoulder season to avoid crowds and to take advantage of lower rates for accommodation.
We also made sure before travelling to Olympic National Park to check for the latest park updates. The summer of 2023 had a number of wildfires in the park that affected road, trail and campsite openings.
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Top 10 things to do in Olympic National Park
1. Lake Crescent
Lake Crescent’s serene, reflective beauty against the Olympic mountain foothills is breathtaking.
The water is so clear in Lake Crescent that in some places it is possible to see at least 60-feet-down. This lake is the only place in the world you can find Crescenti and Beardslee trout.
Lake Crescent Lodge on the shore of the stunning reflective lake by the same name. Photo credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
The reflective beauty of stunning Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. Photo credit – Wendy Nordvik-Carr
The reflective beauty of stunning Lake Crescent. This is one of the top 10 things to do in Olympic National Park. Photo credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
2. Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge offers spectacular views of the glacier-capped mountains.
Located 17 miles from Port Angeles, this area is popular all year. In winter you can ski, snowboard, snowshoe, sled and tube.
On May 7, 2023, a fire destroyed the Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge and a temporary visitor center and washrooms is now in place.
Please note, the road to Hurricane Ridge can close periodically if the parking lot is full.
View of Hurricane Ridge Olympic National Park.
3. Sol Duc Valley
Sol Duc Valley features Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, which is only open during the summer.
There are many hiking trails here. In the fall, take a short walk to the viewing platform to see spawning salmon jump at the Salmon Cascades Overlook.
Check for road and trail conditions before going.
4. Kalaloch Beach
Kalaloch Beach, wide and pristine, is perfect for long beach walks. Watch the spectacular sunrise and sunset from the bluff.
Explore endless beaches when you travel to Olympic National Park to discover a wild, vast wilderness of nature at its best. Kalaloch Beach is one of the many top 10 things to do in Olympic National Park Photo credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
5. Ruby Beach
Ruby Beach is one of my favourite spots to stop on the Olympic Peninsula. It has sea stack islands with a lovely smooth rock and sand beach.
Watch out for powerful wild waves on the Pacific Ocean. If you are caught off guard, waves can become deadly. Be aware that some parts of the beach may be impassible during high tide. Always check the tide schedule.
The rocky shores at Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park. Photo credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
6. Hoh Rain Forest
Hoh Rain Forest is a dense rainforest with thick, lush mosses and ferns. We love moss and you can certainly get your fill here! It is one of the largest U.S. temperate rainforests. Tongass National Forest in Alaska is the largest.
Explore lush green Hoh Rain Forest filled with ferns and moss. This is one of the many top 10 things to do in Olympic National Park Photo credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
7. Ozette beaches
Ozette beaches offer a chance to view seals, and during migratory months, gray whales.
In the 1960s, over 50,000 artifacts uncovered after a storm became one of the richest North American archeological finds. Neah Bay’s Makah Musuem displays many of these priceless pieces.
8. Rialto Beach
Rialto Beach features wild waves, off-shore sea stack islands and a nearby sea-carved arch known as Hole-in-the-Wall.
High tides come in very fast. Keep safe! Avoid the possibility of being trapped! Always check the tide schedule. Some areas are only passable at low tide.
9. Mora Beach
Mora Beach is a great place to breath in the salty, fresh sea air. Pick a spot amongst the driftwood lining the beach and listen to the roar of the ocean.
10. Quinault Rainforest
Quinault Rainforest is home to some of the largest trees in the world and according to the Quinault Indian Legend, the lake is home to a gigantic monster.
Take a two-hour drive along the 31-mile-long Quinault Rainforest loop through the valley, along the river and around Quinault Lake.
See dancing streams, tumbling waterfalls and where the largest Sitka spruce stood.
Quick Facts about Olympic National Park
The park opened June 29, 1938.
Olympic National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is a designated United National International Biosphere Reserve.
The rainforest receives 12-14 feet of rainfall each year.
The United States has three temperate rainforests, all located on the Olympic Peninsula.
In 2011, the largest dam removal in US history began on the Elwha River.
More than 250 bird species can be found on the peninsula.
Roosevelt elk, black bears, cougars and mountain goats are a few of the 70 species of mammals in the park.
There are up to 4,000 Roosevelt elk living in the park.
The park is home to some of the largest and oldest trees in the world. Read about the Forest of Giants. Search the National Registry of American Forests.
50,000 artifacts discovered on Ozette Beach made it one of North America’s richest archeological sites.
Lake Crescent water is so clear that in some places it is possible to see at least 60 feet down. This lake is the only place in the world you can find Crescenti and Beardslee trout.
- More than 50,000 people camp in the park each year.
Discover the charming historic Dalby Water Wheel on the Olympic Peninsula. Explore the top 10 things to do in Olympic National Park. Photo credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
What to know before you go to Olympic National Park
Take time to plan your visit to avoid disappointment.
Make reservations for all accommodations including campsites. The popular summer season sells out fast for available spots. Many facilities are seasonal.
Check road closures within the park.
Make ferry reservations.
Wear good sturdy shoes or hiking boots and bring weatherproof clothing or rain gear. Plan to dress in layers.
Bring a camera and a pair of binoculars.
Read wildlife safety tips.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you have enough fuel to reach your planned destination. Gas stations are not plentiful. We almost ran out of gas after hiking in the Hoy Rain Forest.
Prepare for this great adventure by reading the National Park Services wilderness guide. The guide will give you the top 10 essentials for exploring this remote area. Read about wildlife safety tips.
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