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Olympic National Park Travel Guide

USA

#4 in Best Day Trips from Seattle

Best Things To Do in Olympic National Park

From the magical Hoh Rain Forest to the magnificent Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park offers a wide range of natural attractions to enjoy. Short, accessible trails can just as easily lead to spectacular sights as longer, more rugged trails. Gorgeous waterfalls, stunning night skies, calm tide pools, crashing waves and much more reward park visitors.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Olympic National Park

Free
With an annual rainfall ranging from 140 to 170 inches, the Hoh Rain Forest is a lush, green wonderland, with mosses and ferns covering every tree and surface. According to the NPS, it is one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park's most popular spots to visit. One visitor described walking in the forest as a "Hansel and Gretel-type of feeling" while another likened it to a fairy tale enchanted forest.
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Hiking Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Hoh Rain Forest
With an annual rainfall ranging from 140 to 170 inches, the Hoh Rain Forest is a lush, green wonderland, with mosses and ferns covering every tree and surface. According to the NPS, it is one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park's most popular spots to visit. One visitor described walking in the forest as a "Hansel and Gretel-type of feeling" while another likened it to a fairy tale enchanted forest.
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#2

#2 in Olympic National Park

Free
Hurricane Ridge is located 17 miles south of Port Angeles and is the most easily accessed mountain area within the park. In clear weather, it offers amazing views. In fact, many visitors can't seem to find enough adjectives to describe the scenery, but some include "amazing, spectacular, awesome" and "stunning." You can admire the scenery while hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding.
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Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge is located 17 miles south of Port Angeles and is the most easily accessed mountain area within the park. In clear weather, it offers amazing views. In fact, many visitors can't seem to find enough adjectives to describe the scenery, but some include "amazing, spectacular, awesome" and "stunning." You can admire the scenery while hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding.
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#3

#3 in Olympic National Park

Free
Kalaloch, located on the southwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula, is one of the most visited areas of Olympic National Park. The marine environment and offshore islands are protected by three national wildlife refuges. For thousands of marine species, the coastal waters provide a safe haven, which is why Kalaloch is such a draw for birders. Western gulls, bald eagles and other coastal birds can be seen nesting and feeding along the southern coast. Large nesting colonies of birds, like common murres and tufted puffins, love the rocky outposts. Visitors also commonly see harbor seals and harbor porpoises. Reviewers call the scenery "beyond beautiful" and "picture perfect."
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Kalaloch and Ruby Beach
Kalaloch, located on the southwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula, is one of the most visited areas of Olympic National Park. The marine environment and offshore islands are protected by three national wildlife refuges. For thousands of marine species, the coastal waters provide a safe haven, which is why Kalaloch is such a draw for birders. Western gulls, bald eagles and other coastal birds can be seen nesting and feeding along the southern coast. Large nesting colonies of birds, like common murres and tufted puffins, love the rocky outposts. Visitors also commonly see harbor seals and harbor porpoises. Reviewers call the scenery "beyond beautiful" and "picture perfect."
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#4

#4 in Olympic National Park

Free
Formed thousands of years ago, this crystal-clear, glacially carved lake has depths of up to 624 feet in places. As the ice retreated, it left behind a steep valley that filled with the waters of Lake Crescent. Visitors use words like "beautiful" and "amazing" to describe this area of the park.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Lake Crescent
Formed thousands of years ago, this crystal-clear, glacially carved lake has depths of up to 624 feet in places. As the ice retreated, it left behind a steep valley that filled with the waters of Lake Crescent. Visitors use words like "beautiful" and "amazing" to describe this area of the park.
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#5

#5 in Olympic National Park

Free
Rialto Beach, which sits about 40 miles southwest of Lake Crescent and about 70 miles from Port Angeles, offers dramatic coastal scenery and is a great place to look for sea lions, seals, otters, whales, seabirds and eagles. Visitors call the beach "intense" and a place to see the "pure power of nature."
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Beaches Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Mora and Rialto Beach
Rialto Beach, which sits about 40 miles southwest of Lake Crescent and about 70 miles from Port Angeles, offers dramatic coastal scenery and is a great place to look for sea lions, seals, otters, whales, seabirds and eagles. Visitors call the beach "intense" and a place to see the "pure power of nature."
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#6

#6 in Olympic National Park

Free
The Sol Duc Valley, located in the northwest region of the park, offers several trails to explore, but probably the most popular is the mile-long hike to the Sol Duc Falls overlook. Recent visitors described the falls as stunning and called the journey an easy hike through the forest. Several visitors highly recommend it.
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Hiking Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Sol Duc Valley
The Sol Duc Valley, located in the northwest region of the park, offers several trails to explore, but probably the most popular is the mile-long hike to the Sol Duc Falls overlook. Recent visitors described the falls as stunning and called the journey an easy hike through the forest. Several visitors highly recommend it.
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#7

#7 in Olympic National Park

Free
According to recent visitors, this should be your first stop in the park. Found in Port Angeles, Washington, the center houses exhibits about Olympic National Park's natural and cultural history, a hands-on "Discovery Room" for kids, a 25-minute orientation film, the "Mosaic of Diversity," a bookstore and two short nature trails just outside the center. Visitors call the "rangers exceptionally knowledgeable and very friendly" and say the staff is very helpful.
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Hiking Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Olympic National Park Main Visitor Center and Wilderness Information Center
According to recent visitors, this should be your first stop in the park. Found in Port Angeles, Washington, the center houses exhibits about Olympic National Park's natural and cultural history, a hands-on "Discovery Room" for kids, a 25-minute orientation film, the "Mosaic of Diversity," a bookstore and two short nature trails just outside the center. Visitors call the "rangers exceptionally knowledgeable and very friendly" and say the staff is very helpful.
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#8

#8 in Olympic National Park

Free
Staircase, located in the southeastern corner of Olympic National Park, is dominated by enormous Douglas firs. You'll find a variety of hiking trails along the Skokomish River and the nearby forests. The Staircase Rapids Loop Trail is an easy 2-mile path that leads visitors through old-growth forest to a bridge over the North Fork Skokomish River, with only a 200-foot elevation gain. A spur trail leads to a huge fallen cedar. There's also the flat Shady Lane Trail, which measures less than a mile and takes visitors to Lake Cushman. If you're looking for more of a challenge, consider the 7½-mile hike to Flapjack Lakes, which boasts a 3,000-foot elevation.
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Hiking Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Staircase
Staircase, located in the southeastern corner of Olympic National Park, is dominated by enormous Douglas firs. You'll find a variety of hiking trails along the Skokomish River and the nearby forests. The Staircase Rapids Loop Trail is an easy 2-mile path that leads visitors through old-growth forest to a bridge over the North Fork Skokomish River, with only a 200-foot elevation gain. A spur trail leads to a huge fallen cedar. There's also the flat Shady Lane Trail, which measures less than a mile and takes visitors to Lake Cushman. If you're looking for more of a challenge, consider the 7½-mile hike to Flapjack Lakes, which boasts a 3,000-foot elevation.
... more
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