Here’s everything you need to know to plan your Olympic National Park road trip.
Condé Nast Traveler recently included one of Washington state’s national parks in their list of the 15 best national parks in the US for road trips. Olympic National Park earned a spot on the list, and for good reason. In explaining why it was chosen, they wrote: “[it] is the only U.S. park that contains oceanic coastlines, temperate rainforests, and alpine mountains within its boundaries—and you can experience them all in one day.”
Luckily for Seattleites, Olympic National Park is an easy drive from Seattle! You can squeeze your road trip into one weekend, although you’ll likely want to stay longer to explore the park’s diverse ecosystem.
Read on for a quick breakdown of how to plan an Olympic National Park road trip!
1. Book a van, campsite, or place to stay
You have several options for where to stay throughout your Olympic National Park road trip. One option is to rent a camper van through a service such as Cabana Vans.
Another option is to take your own vehicle and book a campsite (or two). Campgrounds include Mora Beach, Heart O’Hills, and Fairholme. Keep in mind that they will require reservations during peak season.
A final option is to book a room in a cozy lodge or hotel. The Lake Crescent Lodge is a popular and scenic option; it sits right on the shore of beautiful Lake Crescent. Another good option is the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. As implied by the name, it will grant you easy access to the natural hot springs!
2. Plan your hikes
You’ll most likely want to make the most of the beautiful surroundings in the Olympic National Park by going on a few hikes. Make sure to plan a hike through the Hoh Rain Forest, particularly the Hall of Mosses trail. Easy forest hikes include the Sol Duc Falls trail, the Marymere Falls trail, and the Devil’s Punchbowl trail (which will take you to a popular swimming hole). There are also many beautiful coastal hikes that you can enjoy; check out the Rialto Beach hike and the Ruby Beach hike. Finally, if you want a view, you can take the 1.6 mile Hurricane Hill trail that gains 700 ft. of elevation and offers panoramic views.
3. Make a list of the sights
There are some sights you just cannot miss on your Olympic National Park road trip. One is the Hoh Rain Forest, which is considered the quietest place in the US. Another is the view from Hurricane Ridge. You’ll also want to be sure to drive around Lake Crescent, which looks vibrant in the summer and wonderfully moody in the fall and winter. Finally, don’t forget to stop by at least one of the beaches to see the dramatically rocky coastline and the many tide pools.
4. Don’t forget to eat!
If you’re staying at a lodge or resort, you’ll most likely be able to get meals there; and if you plan to camp, then you’ll probably be doing your own cooking. However, there are a few spots around Olympic National Park where you can get a decent meal. Our recommendation is to drop into nearby Port Angeles, a charming town on the Olympic Peninsula that has lots of yummy restaurants. Try New Day Eatery or Grayson’s Port Angeles for breakfast and lunch. And for dinner, there are several restaurants on the pier with waterfront views, such as Downriggers on the Water.
For even more information on planning an Olympic National Park road trip, check out the National Park Service website.