Exploring Olympic National Park is one of my favorite activities. It holds an outstanding amount of gems, scenic landscapes, and memorable moments! So, who’s excited to explore the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park?
The park holds some of the most iconic destinations in all of Washington, and you’re in for a real treat when you finally lay eyes on these epic locations. Inside, we dive into how to plan your Olympic National Park itinerary, the best places to see, and where to stay.
Let’s buckle up and take an amazing trip and adventure to Olympic National Park!
The Ultimate Olympic National Park Itinerary
Below you’ll find everything you need to know about visiting Olympic National Parks!
Three-day Olympic National Park Itinerary (From Seattle)
I recently completed this three-day road trip across the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park. We hit hidden gems and less visited places. If this is your cup of tea, copy it and have a great time!
Olympic National Park Itinerary – Day 1
- Seattle to the Olympic Peninsula via ferry. It was our first time driving onto one, and we had to wait for the next one costing us an hour.
- We were stopped for wine tasting in Port Angeles.
- Hiked to Marymere Falls (2.5 miles round trip). Hung out by Crescent Lake.
- We got dinner in Forks and stayed at the Forks Motel (where we stayed the night).
- We enjoyed the sunset at La Push Beach.
- (Hurrican Ridge Road was closed, so we did not go there.)
Olympic National Park Itinerary – Day 2
- Left Forks and headed south to the Tree of Life and Kalaloch Beach.
- Explored the Quinault section of Olympic NP, took a short walk on the Nature Trail, and enjoyed the lake views. (You could have also explored the Hoh Rainforest. We’d been before and wanted to see another area.)
- We headed north to Neah Bay, where we stayed at the Hobuck Beach Resort. Phenomenal location. The ocean-view cabins were $215 per night, with room for four plus a stove and microwave. There’s also RV & Camping available here, too.
Olympic National Park Itinerary – Day 3
- We enjoyed a cozy morning as fog consumed us on Hobuck Beach—the final day of our Olympic National Park itinerary.
- Packed up and hiked to Shi Shi Beach, a 4.5-mile round trip hike (moderate in difficulty) to the beach. (If you hike to the far side of the beach, it’s about 8.5 miles.) Be prepared for a muddy trail, making it less fun. Then we walked for about 2.5 miles on the beach—probably the most secret beach in Washington.
- Wrapped up the day by hiking to Cape Flattery, the most northwestern point in the lower 48. This is 1.6 miles round trip.
- Neah Bay to Seattle.
See below for mock one and two-day Olympic National Park Itineraries with different places to go. These hit more of the classics that you’ll see on Instagram.
Check out my Olympic National Park Itinerary video here.
1 & 2 Day Olympic National Park Itinerary
If you plan it out right, you can see an incredible amount of Olympic National Park in one long day and definitely two. The single-day itinerary assumes you start your day in Port Angeles. With a single day, it will be hectic but worth it!
Olympic Park Itinerary: If you have 1 day
- Wake up before sunrise and drive the 25 minutes from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge for sunrise. Then, hike up to Hurricane Hill for even more incredible views.
- Head back down and set your GPS to Sol Duc Falls. Hopefully, with it being relatively early, it won’t be a madhouse. Enjoy the short two-mile hike.
- Enjoy some calmness as you drive the 90 minutes to Hoh Rainforest. Grab lunch/food in Forks. If this is during the summer and on the weekend, expect some delays getting in. Explore the Hall of Mosses and Hoh Trail. You can even get to the river, which feels amazing in warmer weather.
- When you leave the Hoh Rainforest, you’re not too far from Ruby Beach. Very worth checking out.
- Wrap up your day at La Push Beach, Rialto, or Second Beach. They’re all in the same area but from different angles of the coast. It’s a one-hour drive from Ruby Beach to La Push.
Olympic Park Itinerary: If you have 2 days
This will look slightly similar but less frantic and have some other cool areas! This is perfect for a weekend trip where you drive from Seattle on Friday night (3.5 hours) and do it weekend warrior style.
If you can get up to Hurricane Ridge for sunset on Friday night, do it. Call Port Angeles your home for the first night and Forks for the second.
Considering the sun doesn’t set until 9:30 during the summer, it might be possible!
- Visit Hurrican Ridge in the AM before the heat and crowds arrive. Then, hike up to Hurricane Hill. Looking northeast, you might see Mount Baker on a clear day.
- Head down and go check out Lake Crescent. Go to the north side and hike to the Devil’s Punchbowl. It’s a 4-mile hike or so.
- You can choose a more demanding hike or an easier hike. Easy: Marymere Falls is about 2.5 miles long, mostly flat until the end. Hard: Mount Storm King is 4.2 miles long with 2,000 feet up. It’s a strenuous hike but has fantastic views!
- Adventure to Sol Duc Falls and enjoy the gorgeous waterfalls.
- Check into your hotel or campsite in Forks/Olympic National Park
- Still got the time? Bring dinner to the coast for sunset. Rialto, Ruby, or Second/Third Beaches are perfect.
- Explore the Hoh Rainforest. Starting your day here will help beat the traffic, plus it can get warm and muggy in the afternoon.
- Head to Ruby Beach and see the amazing coastlines
- Witness the Tree of Life and Kalaloch Beach
- Begin heading back to Seattle.
- Stop by Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and hike onto the spit to see the lighthouse.
- Explore a less visited part of Olympic National Park at Lake Cushman or hike to Lena Lake near Hamma Hamma.
- You’ll have about 2 hours back to Seattle from here.
Planning Your Olympic National Park Itinerary and Adventure
- Download your maps offline for your Olympic National Park itinerary, as some areas have poor cell service.
- We took Highway 112 back to Port Angeles from Neah Bay. I wouldn’t recommend this. It’s pretty but very curvy and slow.
- Make sure to get to the coast for one sunset
- Expect lines during the summer for the Hoh Rainforest
How to get to Olympic National Park from Seattle
If you want to drive the entire way, you’ll have to head south and go through Tacoma before shooting back up north. To reach Port Angeles, it’s about a 3.5-hour drive from Seattle.
There are multiple options that will save you miles, but not always time. For example, you can take the ferry from Seattle or Edmonds to reach the other side of Puget Sound. Now, your drive will be considerably shorter than driving down to Tacoma.
But it usually only shaves off 5-15 minutes, which might not be worth it.
Tips for taking the ferry:
- Check the schedule ahead of time
- Be prepared not to make it the first time
- Keep an eye out for whales or orcas on the ride
What to Pack for three-days in Olympic National Park
- Hiking Clothes: Leggings, Pants, Shorts, Sunshirts, and/or Moisture wicking shirts
- Hiking Shoes or Trail Runners
- Mid-sized day pack
- Hat and Sunglasses
- Cooler and food
- Bathing Suit
- Jacket for the mornings/evenings
Best Time To Visit Olympic National Park
It really varies and depends on what conditions you enjoy exploring in.
The summer months are amazing because you’ll have blue skies and long days. Obviously, these are favored over the gloom. In saying that, though, the rainforests look much better after rain. They’re a deeper green and so much more vibrant. (From a photographer’s perspective, go after a rain.)
Furthermore, hiking and beach views will be much better on clear days, so May through October are favored. However, November through March will be great if you want moody and wet.
Number of days to spend in Olympic National Park
You want at least two to three days in Olympic National Park simply due to how far of a drive it is from the Seattle Metro Area. Three days will allow you to see the harder-to-reach locations, while a day or two will get you the classics.
Where to get food
Once you leave Port Angeles, your food options drop off a cliff. Forks has several choices; Kalaloch Lodge has a general store, and Neah Bay has a grocery store. That’s about it.
Where we ate:
- Harbinger Winery – Last winery on the 101, just outside of Port Angeles
- Frugals – Burgers and Chicken sandwiches. Pretty tasty, especially after you haven’t eaten much all day. Also, in Port Angeles.
- Beaver Grocery Store – Beer options and snacks. Good to stock up heading into Forks
- Rinconcito del Sabor – Mexican spot in Forks. We got burritos that were decent and got the job done. Coming from Arizona, we have a high threshold for Mexican food.
- Shot in the Dark – Good breakfast spot. We got coffee and an egg bagel sandwich. Totally worth it.
- Warmhouse Restaurant – Up in Neah Bay, they have basic options. We got Fish and Chips. Nothing to write home about. There are other options, but I think many operate on irregular hours.
Where to Stay Near Olympic National Park
The best lodging options will be in Port Angeles or Sequim, Forks, Neah Bay, or Kalaloch Beach.
There are lots of camping options across the Olympic Peninsula that will be affordable. However, weekends will be hard to secure last minute, so plan ahead, and you should be alright.
- Sol Duc Campground
- Fairholme Campground
- Klahowya Campground
- Bear Creek Campground
- Bogachiel State Park Campground
- Heart O’ the Hills Campground
- Deer Park Campground
- Hoh Rainforest Campground
- Kolaloch Campground
- South Beach Campground
- Hobuck Beach Campground
Grab my free Camping checklist below
What types of services are out on the Olympic National Park Peninsula
Once you leave Port Angeles, the services get scarce. There are towns like Forks, but this is relatively small and doesn’t have a proper grocery store like you’d experience in an urban setting.
Make sure you stock up in Port Angeles or have a great insulated cooler to keep your food cool as you go about your Olympic National Park adventure.
Things To Do On Your Olympic National Park Road Trip
See the Best Waterfalls in Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park has a surprising amount of waterfalls outside the famous ones that get all the attention. Below are some of the most accessible, but check out this list and map for a complete showing. You’ll be surprised at the extent of the waterfalls on the Olympic Peninsula.
- Marymere Falls
- Sol Duc Falls
- Madison Creek Falls
- Mineral Creek Falls
- Willaby Creek Falls
- Murhut Falls
- Rocky Brook Falls
Explore The Olympic Mountain Range
The Olympic Range is one of the most impressive in the United States. Thankfully, it’s also incredibly easy to reach, thanks to the 20-mile road from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge.
The best view you can have in Olympic National Park via car. You drive up some 4,000 feet to a jaw-dropping view of the Olympic Mountains. Then, do Hurricane Hill for those wanting a short, moderately difficult hike.
Unfortunately, the lodge at the top burnt down in May of 2023, which means there are no amenities. It’s still early to know how that fire will impact Hurricane Ridge’s access. Check the Olympic National Park website for more.
Deer Park is another great place to adventure. It offers backpacking and hiking, with the most popular destination being Royal Basin. The back half of the road is dirt, which is unsuitable for trailers, but all vehicles should be able to drive it.
See the Dazzling Rainforests of Olympic National Park
There are four rainforests in Olympic National Park, but the biggest attraction is the Hoh Rainforest. This is partly due to accessibility, as the two ‘Q’ rainforests are further south and harder to reach.
The most popular of the rainforests in Olympic National Park. The Hall of Mosses Trail is iconic and a must-add to your Olympic National Park itinerary. Additionally, you can hike as much of the 17-mile Hoh Rainforest Trail as you like!
It’s a drive to get here, but it’s worth it! It’s three hours from Port Angeles, but you’ll leave all the crowds behind. I didn’t stay long here but enjoyed the mile Nature Walk trail near the area’s entrance. Then we enjoyed the lake views before grabbing some ice cream and heading back north.
Additionally, this area has top-notch backpacking if you hike deep into the mountains.
Just like the above, this is less visited and more remote. Currently, part of the road to the Queets River Trail is washed out due to a rock slide.
I haven’t been to this area and have little knowledge. Make sure to do your research if you want to visit and explore.
Less popular than the above because it’s a State Park vs. National Park; it’s still a gem of a place! Enjoy hiking on the part of the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail, bird watching, or running into wildlife. If you want to add a crowd-free place to your Olympic National Park itinerary, this is it!
Olympic National Park Coast
The Olympic National Park coastline are stunning areas that any adventurer should see. Most of these are pretty popular but so worth it. Plan for at least one sunset on the coast!
La Push Beach (and more)
A gem of a beach and one I highly recommend checking out. It doesn’t require much walking from the parking lot. There’s a hotel, cabins, and campsites on this little slice of land, but it’s expensive to stay in. Before you reach La Push, you’ll see a handful of other beaches. These are also gorgeous but require a little walk to get them.
Please note that you’ll be on Native Land, so be extra respectful.
Just north of La Push, across the river, is Rialto Beach. It has incredible views of sea stacks. The trail leads you north as you encounter the most massive trees imaginable that have washed on shore. While walking on the sand is tiring, this trail is good for the entire family.
The most popular place is the Tree of Life, a tree that is hanging on for dear life. It’s about a quarter-mile walk from the parking lot. Families can make it, but it’s not wheelchair accessible. Nevertheless, this is an easy stop on your Olympic National Park itinerary.
Shi Shi Beach
One of the best beaches in the entire state. If you’re in the area, Shi Shi Beach and then Point of the Arches is a must-visit. Getting to Shi Shi is a 4.5-mile walk – be ready for a muddy trail. Then, once you’re on the beach, it’s another 2-mile walk to the end. I’d recommend wearing something like this or this from REI, or else your boots will get wet.
There is backpacking here (on the beach), which I would highly recommend. If you go this route, you need a Wilderness Camping Permit.
Lastly, to hike in the Neah Bay area, you must have the Makah Recreation Pass, which you can get in town, and the America the Beautiful Pass.
FAQs about your Olympic National Park Itinerary
Do you need a car to explore Olympic?
Yes, for any Olympic National Park adventure, you’ll need a car to see the places. However, if your vehicle is fuel efficient, it’ll save you lots of money as there is a lot of driving for this park.
I only have one day in Olympic National Park. What can I see?
As you saw above in my one-day Olympic National Park itinerary, Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Falls, Hoh Rainforest, and Lake Crescent are the must-sees. If you can make it to the coast, do so, but not needed.
What is the best month to visit Olympic National Park?
The best month would be September. The summer crowds have died down, wildfire smoke is scarce here, and the weather is perfect. Additionally, all trails are accessible, so you have many options. Furthermore, your chances of fog on the coasts diminish slightly as it’s cooler inland.
Should I go to Cape Flattery and Neah Bay?
It’s a beautiful area but far out of the way to see it. So if you go, you should be going to get to Shi Shi Beach. If not, it’s probably not worth it, as Cape Flattery was a little disappointing from a photography standpoint.
Additionally, Neah Bay only has five places to get food, which doesn’t provide many options. However, when you shove a tribe to the most remote part of the state, what can you expect?
In saying that, it is an excellent way to support the Natives in the area and help provide economic stimulus to the lovely community.
Final Thoughts – Olympic National Park Itinerary Guide
It’s a mesmerizing place on the Olympic Peninsula. You have waterfalls, mountains, lakes, and oceans. It’s genuinely nature heaven, and I knwo you’ll love your tip. Thanks for reading this Olympic National Park itinerary.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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