Is Olympic National Park Worth Visiting in 2024?

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Are you planning a visit to Washington State and are wondering, is Olympic National Park worth visiting?

This stunning, diverse park is popular for good reason, being that it’s home to the United States’ only temperate rainforests, as well as mountains and ocean coastline.

Olympic National Park is one of my favorite parks, and during my time living in Washington, I spent a lot of time exploring it. I’m an avid hiker and found that this park has some of my favorite hikes that I’ve ever done.

In this post, I’ll walk you through why I think it’s worth it, why it might not be, and the top reasons why you should visit Olympic National Park.

Myself and Tyler sitting in front of a large wooden sign that tells you that you're entering Olympic National Park.

Is Olympic National Park Worth Visiting?

I may be a bit biased because I lived in Washington for a while and explored this park a lot, but I think that Olympic National Park is absolutely worth visiting.

This park is so unique and really is different than any other place that I’ve been, which is what makes it so worthwhile.

It’s not just anywhere that you can see such a diverse landscape in such a short amount of time.

From the miles of Pacific coastline to the towering Olympic Mountain range and the stunning Hoh and Quinault Rainforests, there is so much to explore.

It isn’t like other parks where you simply are going to visit one thing, like a single mountain. You’ll see so much you won’t even believe it!

Walking through the mossy, green rainforests made me feel like I was transported to a jungle that was somewhere completely far away. Which is my favorite feeling when traveling!

I don’t even know how many times I said ‘wow’ during my first visit. And with every visit after that, I had the same exact feeling as my first.

Olympic National Park is one of my favorites in the entire National Park System, and I hope that everyone has the chance to explore it someday!


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Reasons to Visit Olympic National Park

Below are some of the top reasons that I think Olympic should be visited during a trip to Washington State.

Myself walking under a tree that has created an arch over the hiking trail.

1. Amazing Hiking Trails

If you’re a hiker, then you’ll be excited to hear that Olympic has some of the most amazing hiking trails in Washington. I seriously mean that. Mount Storm King is still one of the best hikes that I’ve ever done, and I’ve been all over!

From rainforest walks to stunning mountain treks and ocean coastline exploring, there are so many options for hiking.

Whether you’re a beginner hiker looking for something easy or you want something a bit more challenging, there are all sorts of options.

Tyler and I taking a selfie in front of Sol Duc Falls, that makes Olympic National Park worth visiting.

2. Diverse Landscape

One of the absolute best reasons to visit Olympic National Park is that it has such a unique, diverse landscape.

There aren’t many places in America where you can explore a rainforest, ocean coastline, and mountain ranges.

But in Olympic, you might see all of that (and more) in a matter of a day!

A mother and baby deer walking through a field with mountains in the background.

3. Wildlife Spotting

Along with all of the other great reasons that Olympic is worth visiting, one of my favorite parts is the opportunity to spot wildlife.

Olympic isn’t home to massive amounts of wildlife like some other parks are, but you most definitely can expect to see some!

One of the most commonly seen on land are elk, and in the water, watch out for migrating whales and small marine life in tide pools.

When we were at Hurricane Ridge, we actually saw a mama deer with her twin fawns and it was one of my favorite experiences during our first visit.

Myself standing in front of Sol Duc Falls with a gate in front of myself.

4. Incredible Waterfalls

One of my favorite parts about the Pacific Northwest is that there are hundreds of waterfalls to explore.

In Olympic, you’ll find a few pretty amazing waterfalls, thanks to the park’s rainforest ecosystem.

A few of the best include Sol Duc Falls, Marymere Falls, and Ludlow Falls. These feel even more magical than other Washington waterfalls because of the rainforest vibe.

Large, mossy trees towering above many ferns in Olympic.

5. Escape the Crowds

While certain parts of Olympic can get pretty crowded during the peak season, there are many places in the park to escape the crowds.

When we visited, we found that the Hoh Rainforest was extremely busy, so we headed to the Quinault Rainforest for a while instead. We didn’t even see a single other person on the trail, which we loved.

There are a few other places around the park that are similar to this, so you can avoid getting in with the crowds if that’s what you prefer.

6. Year-Round Destination

While Washington’s other national parks are partially closed during the winter due to snow, most of Olympic stays open.

In fact, it’s one of the best places to find winter hiking trails in Washington, since there are lots of trails with no snow. Mount Storm King is my personal favorite!

You can also spend time exploring the beaches during winter since the coast very rarely gets snow.

Three purple starfish clinging to a rock wall in tidepools.

7. Exploring Tide Pools

I’m a huge fan of marine creatures, and I have loved getting to explore the tide pools on the beaches of Olympic National Park.

You can find tide pools at many of the beaches, but Kalaloch’s Beach 4 has the most popular ones.

When I visited, we found them at Ruby Beach and Second Beach as well. We ended up seeing bright purple and red starfish that I didn’t even know lived in the PNW.

A walking trail that leads through Olympic National Park.

8. Relaxing Hot Springs

What could be better than relaxing in a hot spring after a long day of hiking and exploring in a national park?

At the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, you can kick back and enjoy the mineral-soaking pools, which are located near Port Angeles.

We soaked in the hot springs during our first visit, and I credit the heat to making my feet feel better again after hiking the difficult Mount Storm King.

A sign that reads 'Hoh River Trail' next to a trail that leads into the rainforest that makes Olympic worth it.

9. Home of Twilight’s ‘Forks’

If you’re a fan of Twilight, you’ll definitely want to check out the small town of Forks during your visit.

Forks is where the setting of Twilight takes place, and although most of it wasn’t filmed here, locals are proud of this!

With a visit to the Rainforest Arts Center in Forks, you can even see the world’s largest collection of props and costumes from the Twilight films.

Myself and Tyler posing for a picture in front of an overlook at Hurricane Hill.

10. Close to Seattle

If you’re already planning a visit to Washington and are flying into the largest city of Seattle, you’ll already be close to Olympic National Park!

To get onto the Olympic Peninsula, you don’t have to drive terribly far before you reach the best activities.

It also makes it nice and easy to get back to the airport to head home once you’re finished with your trip! This is a major plus for me, because I hate having to drive super far to reach the airport.

Myself standing near a wooden fence in the Hoh Rainforest.

11. Never-Ending Things to Do

No matter how many times you plan a visit to Olympic, you’ll seriously never run out of things to do.

I’ve visited many times, and every time I get home, I find more and more things to add to my list. And I never feel like I have enough time in the park!

Now of course, this can be both a blessing and a curse, since you won’t be able to make it a short weekend trip if you want to see it all.

But I love finding places that I can come back to, because it means that they’re so good they require a second visit.


Best Things to Do in Olympic National Park

There are so many amazing things to do in Olympic National Park that make Olympic worth visiting. Below I’ll share a few of the absolute best activities for your trip.

Myself with my arms in the air in front of Lake Crescent at the top of Mount Storm King in Olympic National Park.

Hike to Mount Storm King

One of my absolute favorite hikes with lake views that I’ve ever done is Mount Storm King. This incredible hike leads to a stunning view over Lake Crescent.

The hike to the top is no joke, and if you’re anything like me, you will be out of breath and have jello-legs by the time you’re done. And when you think it’s over, you still have further to go!

But, once you see that view, you’ll forget all about it (Well, maybe not. But it’s worth it!). The views are so beautiful and almost felt like I was in the fjords in Norway. If you can, do this hike in the morning since it’s one of the best sunrise hikes in the state.

Tyler standing in front of a large rock with a hole in it on the beach in the national park.

Explore the Beaches

While Washington’s beaches aren’t the type that you’ll likely want to lounge on or swim at, they are still so worth exploring!

There are a few beaches that are considered the ‘best,’ including Ruby, Rialto, and Kalaloch Beaches.

My favorite was Rialto Beach because there was a ton of driftwood on the shore and it really just added to the moodiness of this PNW coastline.

The Tree of Life hanging on by the roots on one of the beaches.

See the Tree of Life

If you’re already visiting the beaches of Olympic, then you cannot skip out on seeing the remarkable Tree of Life.

This tree looks like it’s falling, but has been like that for years. I’m honestly not sure how it remains standing after the storms that have hit the beach.

It was honestly one of my favorite parts of the park because of how unique it is. It’s really unlike anything you can see somewhere else!

Tyler walking down a mossy covered hiking trail in Olympic National Park that is worth visiting.

Visit the Hoh & Quinault Rainforests

One of the most unique parts of Olympic National Park is the temperate rainforests that can’t be found anywhere else in the United States.

The most popular is the Hoh Rainforest, where you’ll find tons of hiking trails and stunning views of the mossy trees and environment.

You can also visit the Quinault Rainforest, which is just as beautiful but much less crowded. We actually prefered the Quinault to the Hoh because of the solitude!

Myself standing in front of a view of the Olympic Mountains/

Walk to Hurricane Ridge

If it’s not enough that you can see rainforests and oceans in Olympic National Park, then you need to also visit Hurricane Ridge.

Here you’ll have some incredible views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Olympus.

The walk to Hurricane Ridge is pretty short and it’s paved for the entire way. Keep in mind that it is pretty steep, but doable if you take it slow.

A view of Sol Duc Falls from the side, one of the best Olympic National Park things to do.

See Sol Duc Falls

There are so many great waterfalls in Washington and many that are close to Seattle. Sol Duc Falls is one of the most beautiful ones.

I personally love Sol Duc Falls because of the mossy greenery that surrounds it. It’s really one of my favorite parts of the PNW, so when you put that together with a waterfall, I’m in love.

The hike to Sol Duc Falls is actually really short and easy, so you can throw it into your itinerary very easily, and most people can do it.

A view of Lake Crescent from above at the Mount Storm King lookout.

Relax at Lake Crescent

If you hiked Mount Storm King earlier in the day, you’re probably going to want to sit back and relax for the rest of the day.

One of the best places to do this is at Lake Crescent, which is actually the lake that you’re seeing from the viewpoint at the top of Mount Storm King.

Even just sitting back in a lawn chair around the lake is a must to relax at the end of the day.


What to Do in Olympic for One Day

Although I would really recommend having more than one day here, if you can only finagle a day trip, I wanted to share the best way to spend it.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see everything because this park is so vast. On our first visit, we spent 3 days here and still felt sort of rushed.

But here’s how I would tackle one day in the park.

  • 8:00 am: Starting in Port Angeles, head towards the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Hike to Hurricane Ridge and enjoy the mountain views.
  • 11:00 am: After Hurricane Ridge, drive to Sol Duc Falls and take a short walk to the waterfall. Maybe even take a dip in Sol Duc Hot Springs.
  • 1:00 pm: Lunch in Forks.
  • 3:00 pm: Drive to Rialto Beach. Spend time walking the beach and looking in the tidepools. If you have extra time, visit First and Second Beaches in La Push.
  • 5:00 pm: Drive back towards Port Angeles. If you have extra time, stop to relax at Lake Crescent or challenge yourself with a hike to Mount Storm King.

Is Olympic National Park Worth Visiting for a Day?

Whether or not Olympic is worth it for just one day is really hard to say, because you will be spending a decent amount of time driving.

If you only have one day, I would try to start in Port Angeles and then work your way along Highway 101 until you reach the coast.

There won’t be a lot of time to stop in between the driving, but if you start the day early and end it late, you can squeeze in quite a bit of sightseeing and exploring in just one day.


A small waterfall dropping over a wall covered in moss.

Is Olympic National Park Worth Visiting For Non-Hikers?

I totally understand the concern of visiting a national park as a non-hiker and not having as much to do as the hikers.

But luckily, Olympic National Park is a pretty epic place to visit for hikers AND non-hikers.

There are so many short and easy walks, beautiful roadside viewpoints, beaches, scenic drives, and more that you can check out if you aren’t interested in hiking.

In fact, I’d say when compared to Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks, Olympic is the best of Washington’s parks for non-hikers.

This is because I think that these two parks are best seen from hiking trails, and Olympic can be seen even from the road or viewpoints.


Sol Duc Falls as seen from the opposite side of the waterfall, that makes Olympic National Park worth visiting.

Is Olympic Worth Visiting For Families?

If you have kids and are planning to visit Olympic, it’s good to know that this park is so worth it and such a great family-friendly hike!

As I mentioned above, there are tons of great hikes that are easy, short, and flat, which are perfect for families with kids.

Or you can check out the viewpoints and beaches. I saw lots of kiddos tidepooling during my last visit. It’s so fun for the little ones to see the starfish.


Large pieces of driftwood sitting on a beach in Olympic National Park.

Is Olympic Worth It In the Winter?

Are you planning to visit this national park in winter? You might be visiting if it’s even worth it during this season.

I would say that Olympic is absolutely worth visiting in winter, because it’s so diverse and has a lot of hikes that don’t even have snow!

If you stay in the rainforest and along the coast, you can find many areas that don’t have any snow and are open for visiting year-round.

Some of my favorite winter hikes are actually found in the park, because they don’t get snow.


What is Special About Olympic National Park?

There are a lot of reasons why Olympic National Park is worth visiting and why it’s so special. So many people love the park and there are good reasons why.

The biggest reason why it’s so special is because of the diversity of it. You’ll find three massive environments in the park, including an ocean coastline, a temperate rainforest, and a large mountain range.

You can see all of these things in just a short amount of time, and that makes visiting the park special. Rather than visiting three different parks, you can do it all at once.


Large, mossy covered trees in the national park.

How Many Days Do You Need in Olympic National Park?

Something to know about Olympic National Park is that it’s a very large park and you’ll want to plan adequate time to explore it.

I would recommend having at least 3 days to explore the park if you’re looking to just hit the very top attractions.

But if you want to dig a bit deeper into the park and see some of the hidden gems, then you’ll want to plan 5 or more days.

The Olympic Peninsula is a huge area and driving around it can take over 7 hours to get from one side to the other, and back.

During our first visit a few years ago, we only had 3 days and felt a bit rushed. We were able to hit all of the best things, but we’re also very busy travelers and never stop. So if you like to relax a bit more, try to have some extra time.


Best Time of Year to Visit Olympic National Park

One of my favorite parts of visiting the park (and one of the biggest reasons why Olympic National Park is worth visiting) is that it’s a year-round destination.

Certain parts of Olympic see little to no snow, which is rare when it comes to the national parks in the Pacific Northwest.

I would say that summer and fall (June through October) are typically the best months to visit, but you can still definitely visit throughout the entire year.

While certain parts of the park are closed down in winter, most of it is open and you can explore it year-round. Spring is also a nice time to hike, and there are a lot of great spring-time hikes to check out.

We first visited in July and found that it was the perfect time to really enjoy all of the parks, but we’ve also visited in September and the weather is better during the fall.


Tyler standing in front of a wooden fence with large, mossy trees towering over him in the background.

Getting Around Olympic National Park

One thing that can be pretty tricky about visiting Olympic National Park is getting around. This is because of how big the park is!

If you don’t have your own car, it can get really tricky to get around and actually see the best parts of the park.

So either driving your own car, renting a car, or renting a campervan will be your best choices.

There are roads (most paved) that lead to the best parts of the park, but there isn’t any sort of public transportation to get around. So it might get hard if you don’t have your own.


Where to Stay in Olympic National Park

Now that you know that the incredible Olympic National Park is totally worth the visit, it’s time to figure out where you’ll stay during your trip. Here are some of the best places.

🏨 Lake Quinault Lodge

If you want to visit the rainforests, staying at Lake Quinault Lodge is best! It features a swimming pool, an on-site restaurant, and is just an hour from the Hoh Rainforest and just down the road from the Quinault Rainforest.

➡️ Check Rates and availability for the Lake Quinault Lodge here!

🏨 Olympic Lodge by Ayres

Located in Port Angeles at the base of the Olympic Mountains, this resort features an outdoor pool and hot tub, complimentary breakfast, and easy access to Sol Duc Falls and Lake Crescent.

➡️ Check Rates and availability for the Olympic Lodge here!


FAQs

Which is Better Mount Rainier or Olympic National Park?

Between Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks, it can be tough to choose. But if I had to pick, I would say that Olympic is better, strictly for its diversity.

Why Do People Like Olympic National Park?

People, including myself, love Olympic because it’s so diverse. Here you’ll find rainforests, mountains, and ocean coastline. You can see it all in one day, which is really special.

What is the Big Thing That Brings Visitors to Olympic National Park?

The diversity of the park draws people to Olympic. You can see mountains, ocean, and the country’s only temperate rainforest all in one national park!

Are There Grizzly Bears in Olympic National Park?

No, there aren’t any grizzly bears in Olympic National Park, but you might see the occasional black bear.

What Months are Busiest for Olympic National Park?

Summer is the busiest time for Olympic National Park because the weather is nice and most of the park is accessible.

Do You Need a Car in Olympic National Park?

Yes, a car is a must in Olympic because there isn’t any sort of public transportation to get around. The park is also very large, so you’ll need a car.

Do You Need a Reservation to Enter Olympic National Park?

No, there are no reservations required to get into Olympic National Park at this time.

How Do You Avoid Crowds at Olympic National Park?

You can avoid crowds at Olympic by visiting in the off-season, early in the morning, or later in the afternoon. You can also plan to visit less popular areas of the park such as the Quinault Rainforest.

Can You See the Northern Lights in Olympic National Park?

Yes, you can see the northern lights in Olympic if it’s a clear night. Although it’s not often that you’re able to see the aurora borealis.

Are There Hot Springs in Olympic National Park?

Yes, the Sol Duc Hot Springs are located in Olympic National Park near Port Angeles.

How Long Does it Take to Drive the Loop in Olympic National Park?

The loop drive around Olympic National Park is pretty long and can actually take around 7 hours, if you go all the way around. This doesn’t account for any stops.

What Month is Best for Olympic National Park?

For the best weather in Olympic National Park, visit in July or August. But for the fewest crowds and cooler weather, plan to go in September or October.

What Months are Busiest for Olympic National Park?

June through August are the busiest for Olympic National Park because this is peak season. It’s when kids have school off, the snow is melted, and temperatures are warm.

Why is Olympic National Park So Popular?

Olympic National Park is popular because of its diversity and beautiful landscapes. Plus, it’s a year-round national park!

What is the Closest City to Olympic National Park?

The closest major city to Olympic National Park is Seattle, but smaller towns like Port Angeles and Forks are found around the park.

Can You Do a Day Trip From Seattle to Olympic National Park?

While it is possible to day trip from Seattle to Olympic National Park, it is quite difficult. The drive time is long and you won’t have a lot of time to stop.

Is 2 Days Enough for Olympic National Park?

If you’re a fast-moving traveler, you can make 2 days in Olympic National Park work. But if you prefer to relax and spend more time in places, I would recommend having more than just two days.

Is One Day Enough for Olympic National Park?

Honestly, just one day in Olympic National Park is rushing it. You won’t be able to see all of the best things and you’ll spend a lot of time in the car. I would recommend at least 3 days.

Does Olympic National Park Have an Entrance Fee?

Yes, Olympic National Park has an entrance fee that follows the National Park Service. It’s $30 for 7 days, or you can snag an annual pass for $80. This covers all national parks in the US for an entire year.


Wrap-Up: Is Olympic National Park Worth It?

Whether you just have a trip to Washington planned or you’re trying to check all of the national parks off your bucket list, it’s important to know is Olympic National Park worth visiting.

This diverse park is home to a lot for visitors to see, and as someone who lived in Washington for a while and visited often, I can confidently say that it makes the trip totally worth it!

Now that you know that this park is worth it for all visitors, be sure to plan out the rest of your trip with some of Washington’s best hikes.


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