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Olympic National Park

Photo by Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau

Olympic National Park Itineraries

Olympic National Park in 3 Days

Olympic Peninsula Highlights

Some of the largest tracts of old-growth forest in the Northwest

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Olympic National Park is one of America’s most popular and diverse national parks. Encompassing much of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula; Olympic National Park contains wild ocean beaches, lush temperate rain forests, and a rugged range of glacier-covered mountains. In essence, it’s three parks in one. Home to incredible biological diversity, Olympic harbors elk herds, sea otter and sea lion colonies, rare spotted owls, gregarious marmots and flora and fauna found nowhere else on the planet. The park consists of the largest wilderness coast in the continental United States; some of the largest tracts of old-growth forest in the Northwest; and one of the last explored mountain ranges in America.

Nearly a million acres in size, Olympic National Park is recognized as a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. While eastern parks like the Great Smoky Mountains and the Everglades lay claim to the most biodiversity, no park comes close to Olympic when it comes to biomass. You’ve never seen so much living matter until you’ve taken a stroll up an Olympic rain forest valley.

While rain forest blankets the park’s western valleys, it’s a different scenario along the park’s northeastern frontier. Here a rain-shadow effect is in play. Locales such as Sequim see as little as 17 inches of rain annually, while the Quinault Valley in the west “enjoys” over 140 inches of annual precipitation.

There are many points of entry—all unique and all warranting extensive exploring if time permits. The Staircase region is the closest to southern Puget Sound cities and offers exceptional hiking along the cascading North Fork Skokomish River Valley.


Olympic National Park Highlights

For many visitors, Hurricane Ridge represents the créme de la créme of the Olympic Peninsula. Nowhere else in the rugged Olympic Mountains can you access alpine meadows and lakes with such ease, thanks to a scenic 17 mile scenic parkway delivering you to this mile high ridge. The Elwha Valley is home to the park’s largest river where two dams were recently removed restoring this waterway to its wild past. Here find good camping, a large network of trails, hot springs and old homesteads.

With over 5000 surface acres, Lake Crescent is the largest lake within the Olympic Mountains. Arched like a crescent, the 9-mile-long lake is known for its crystal clear waters and stunning mountain reflections. Paddle this fine lake, explore nearby waterfalls, camp along its shore, or stay a night or two at its charming historic lodge. In the Sol Duc River Valley stay at a hot springs resort or set up camp in a grove of primeval giants. Then take to some of the park’s most dramatic trails to thundering waterfalls, sparkling alpine lakes and sprawling alpine meadows bursting with wildflower blossoms.

The Rain Forests are perhaps Olympic’s most famous attraction. Temperate rain forests are found only in Chile, New Zealand, and the Pacific Northwest, and those of the Olympic National Park are perhaps the most accessible. Good roads lead to most—and good trails lead through all of the park’s major rainforest valleys. Marvel at giant conifers cloaked in epiphytes and growing upwards of 250 feet.

Finally, explore the wild Olympic Coast, a sensational scenic strand of majestic sea stacks, secluded coves, deserted sandy beaches, salt-sprayed maritime forests, and tidal pools bursting with life. And while portions of this windswept, and wave-pounded world require tenacity and determination to visit, a surprisingly good amount of this stunning coastline is easily accessible including beaches that are both kid and dog friendly.

Speaking of highlights, we have an itinerary for that.


What it Costs

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in $US.

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
Free
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person

Sleep
$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $200 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double

Eat
$ => $1-15 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$ => $16-40 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $41 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)

Shop
N/A => Not applicable

Tours
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$ => Tickets $26 per person

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