Olympic National Park Travel Guide

USA  #4 in Best Day Trips from Seattle
Credit

Courtesy of VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Getty Images

Free Things To Do in Olympic National Park

If you have extra time, Kalaloch and Ruby Beach is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Hoh Rain Forest
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    #1 in Olympic National Park
    Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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
    Hurricane Ridge
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    #2 in Olympic National Park
    Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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
    Kalaloch and Ruby Beach
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    #3 in Olympic National Park
    Beaches, Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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
    Lake Crescent
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    #4 in Olympic National Park
    Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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
    Mora and Rialto Beach
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    #5 in Olympic National Park
    Beaches, Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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
    Sol Duc Valley
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    #6 in Olympic National Park
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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
    Olympic National Park Main Visitor Center and Wilderness Information Center
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    #7 in Olympic National Park
    Hiking, Recreation, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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
    Staircase
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    #8 in Olympic National Park
    Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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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Explore More of Olympic National Park

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