Olympic National Park, Washington
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Olympic National Park is a gorgeous and diverse area, covering the majority of Washington State’s peninsula with a variety of fantastic outdoor adventures. It includes tranquil beaches and sea-life to discover, majestic rain forest mountains to hike, lakes to explore, serene waterfalls to view and hot springs to relax in.
Fun: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (out of 5)
Difficulty: Very Easy Easy MODERATE Hard Very Hard
(Very easy to very hard, depending on what you decide to do)
Distance: Short to long, depending on what you are doing
Elevation Gain: Flat to Steep, depending on what you are doing
Terrain: Beaches, mountains, bridges, waterfalls, trails, temperate rain forest
Time: A few hours to several days
When to Go: Anytime of the year, but summer is best
$30 entrance fee to some areas of the park
Free if you have a 4th grader with Every Kid Outdoors program
Beaches are all free
Sol Duc Hot Springs is an added cost depending on age and time of day visiting
Fees for camping
Hotels in nearby cities
Bathrooms available at visitors centers some trailheads
Water available at campsites, resorts, vistor’s centers and some trailheads
THINGS TO BRING
Camping gear if camping
Good hiking shoes
Good rain jacket
Olympic National Park is one of the most diverse national parks we have visited. It has ocean beaches, mountains, hiking, camping, lakes and hot springs. Our family loves the mountains and the beach so it was the best of both worlds for us. We loved spending hours on the beaches exploring, discovering tide-pools and playing on drift wood. We hiked through the lush temperature rain forests to waterfalls. We spent about 5 days in the park and we didn’t even get to explore everything the park has to offer.
THINGS TO DO
Olympic National Park includes miles of serene beaches. The water is cold, definitely different than our Florida Beaches we were use to from living there. However the beauty of these beaches is almost unreal and we spent hours exploring the tide-pools filled with ocean life. Make sure to visit the beaches at low-tide for optimal tide-pool viewing. Check out the NOAA tide predictions before going.
Second Beach: This is a secluded beach with majestic sea stacks and many tide pools to explore at low tide. My kids actually swam in the water at this beach, I preferred to just wade. It is about a mile walk to get to second beach, but it is well worth it.
First Beach: Quileute Oceanside Resort sites right on First Beach. We camped here and loved having such quick access to this beach. There are firerings to enjoy a sunset fire and smores. My kids loved playing on the driftwood on the beach here. Walk about a half mile to the North on this beach for sea-life viewing along the side of the causeway.
Rialto Beach: Rialto beach is just north of the La Push, Washington and is 3 miles from the Mora Campground. It has many tide pools at low-tide. 1.5 miles from the beach entrance is the hole in the rock structure.
Kalaloch Campground Beach: This isn’t an official beach name because it doesn’t have one. This is the beach just off of the Kalaloch Campground. We walked along this beautiful misty beach for about a mile.
Kalaloch Beach 4: This was our favorite beach because of the many star fish we found on the rock structures just north of the beach entrance. We also saw sea-lions swimming nearby. There were also tons of smooth beautiful rocks. We love collecting rocks so this was super fun for us. It is north of the Kalaloch Campground but south of Ruby Beach.
Ruby Beach: Possibly the most known beach along Washington's coast with its famous Abbey Island. Great place for a beach stroll and tide pool exploring.
There are countless hikes within Olympic National Park ranging from very easy to very hard. Here are the hikes we did on our trip. Full reviews on each hike to come.
Sol-Duc Falls: a 1.6 mile easy and flat hike to a beautiful waterfall.
Hoh River Trail: This trail follows the Hoh River through the beautiful rainforest. You can make this is along or short as you want. We hiked a total of 5.5 miles to the Mineral Creek Falls.
Second Beach: an out-and-back 2 mile trail round trip that walks you through Oregon’s beautiful coastal lush forest to a secluded beach. It is downhill on the way to the beach, uphill on the way back.
Rialto Beach/Hole in the Wall: A 3 mile flat beautiful beach walk with views of sea-life in tide pools to a rock formation with a large hole. Make sure to do this hike at low tide so you can walk out to the Hole in the Wall.
The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort has one fresh-water pool and 3 mineral pools that vary in temperature from 99 degrees to 104 degrees. We spent an afternoon here and had a lot of fun. It was nice to relax and do something a little different for a day. My kids love swimming no matter where we are at and will usually choose swimming over any other activity. There are cabins located right next to the resort.
There are many camping opportunities within Olympic National Park and the surrounding area. Each major area of the park has camping opportunities near it. All campgrounds fill quickly and open for reservations on a 6 month rolling basis. I recommend reserving a site at the 6 month mark if you are traveling in the summer months. Here are the campgrounds we stayed at.
Kalaloch Campground is between the main highway and the ocean. If available, pick a site closer to the ocean than the highway. The beach is a short walk and was easy to access. You can also stay at the Kalaloch Lodge if you are not camping. It is the only place to stay that is non-camping within about 1 hour in each direction.
Sol Duc Campground is nestled in the beautiful Washington rain forest near the north end of Olympic National Park. It is near the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort and the Sol Duc Waterfall hike. It is also closer to crescent lake if you are exploring that area.
Quileute Oceanside Resort is privately owned and not operated by Olympic National Park, however it is surrounded by the park and is close to the beautiful First, Second and Third Beaches. The camping here was more KOA style and there are only a few sites. I loved falling asleep to the sound of the ocean. There are several cabins available right along the ocean-side that looked really nice. This resort books on a 1 year rolling basis and books quickly.
This resort is near the town of Forks, which is the setting for the Twilight Series books and movies. Watch out for vampires.
Crescent Lake is nestled among Washington coastal mountains and is absolutely beautiful. I wish we had more time to explore this area. There is hiking, camping and a lodge nearby. Marymere Falls is a popular hike in the area. Kayak and canoeing rentals are available.
Lake Quinault: This area is surrounded by the temperate rain forest and offers boating, hiking, camping, fishing, food and lodging. It is the gateway to the southwest base of the park.
This is a 17-mile road takes you through the majestic snow-capped Olympic Mountains. There are several hiking options off this road. It is a curvy road and a couple of my kids started to feel a bit car sick. Just be prepared.
PROS & CONS
Diverse outdoor adventures
Can rain a lot
Requires a bit of driving to get from one location of the park to another
Olympic National Park is located on the north west portion of Washington State. If you put in Olympic National Park into your GPS device or phone you will be led to the middle of the mountain range of the park. Make sure to put the specific location within the park that you want to visit.
Map to southwest corner of park
Map to northeast corner of the park.
Olympic National Park official site
OTHER NEARBY ADVENTURES
Forks (20 minutes from Second Beach)
Seattle (3 hours from the park’s northeast entrance)
Portland (3 hours from park’s southwest entrance)
Oregon’s Coast (3 hours to beaches such as Seaside and Cannon beach from park’s south west entrance)
Mount Rainier National Park (3 hours)
Hi, I'm Corrine! I'm an outdoor enthusiast, mother of four, wife, nurse and runner. I believe God gave us this beautiful earth to explore, enjoy and protect.
My goal is to inspire you to get outside and create your own amazing memories as a family. Life is precious and there are too many adventures to be had to spend life on the couch or in front of a screen.
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