Mountains, rainforests and beaches all in one day?

You betcha. In Olympic National Park, the diversity of landscape is something to behold. From the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains to the mossy, temperate Hoh rainforest to the wild, sea stack dotted Pacific coastline, you can have your head in the clouds in the morning and your feet in the sand by sunset. Dozens of hiking trails and wide open beaches provide endless exploration and wildlife sightings, so keep your eyes open for bald eagles, seals, sea otters and even the occasional whale. Whether you're in the park to hike, camp or just savour the solitude, this protected park is a wonderland of Washington's most iconic scenery.

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Highlights of Olympic National Park

Sea stacks are silhouetted in front of a sunset on a beach

See sea stacks by the sea shore

Grab your camera... Washington's rugged coastline makes for prime stack-spotting, and several hikes inside the park lead straight down to the spectacular sea-stack-dotted coast. Point of Arches, an iconic outcropping of over 30 stacks and islands at Shi Shi Beach, requires some effort to reach but is worth the adventurous trek. The 14 km out-and-back hike is tide-dependent, but setting up camp and watching the soaring stacks at sunset is nothing short of magical.

A mountain reflection in the crystal clear Lake Crescent

Clear your head in Lake Crescent

If you thought clear waters only existed in tropical locations, think again. Lake Crescent is a glacially-carved lake with exceptionally clear water, perfect for kayaking, sailing and invigorating swims. With very little nitrogen, algae can't thrive in the lake, and in some places, you can see over 15 meters down! While the lake is a great kickoff point for many hiking trails, sitting back and enjoying the enchanting views from the nearby Lake Crescent Lodge can be just as rewarding.

A view of snow capped peaks and rolling hills from the Hurricane Ridge lookout

Relish the views on the Ridge

Although named for the unrelenting winds that can descend on the area, Hurricane Ridge is not to be missed. As the highest drivable point in the park, the ridge has sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains on one side and over the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada on the other. Nearby trails offer treks to wildflower meadows, subalpine lakes and valleys, but make sure to pack layers... snow has been reported at the ridge as late as July!

Two travellers walking through the giant old growth trees in the Hoh Rainforest

Marvel at giants in the Hoh

As one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States, the Hoh is one of the most impressive sections of Olympic National Park. In a state of perpetual precipitation for most of the year, a mossy, fern-laden undergrowth gives the forest an ethereal feel while old-growth giants form a thick canopy above. Keep an eye out, as you may be sharing the trails with Roosevelt elk, black bears and playful river otters.

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Olympic National Park FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

Olympic National Park is located on Washington's Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The park covers 1,442 square miles (2321 km).

Olympic National Park makes a great weekend getaway, but you will definitely need a car to get around. If you're travelling from within Washington, or a neighbouring state like Oregon, driving yourself is the best option. The closest available airport is Sea-Tac International Airport which is about 2.5-3 hours from the park's gateway town of Port Angeles. Most major cities in the United States and internationally offer flights into Seattle.

Once you've acquired a car, you'll want to connect to Highway 101. 101 creates a 300-mile loop around the Olympic Peninsula that encircles the park, making it easy to access the various forests, beaches and mountain attractions.

The diversity of Olympic National Park is on display as the seasons change, with warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. The best time to visit the park for hiking, backpacking and exploring in good weather is during the summer months of June-August.

If you're looking to avoid crowds, the coastline and rainforest areas in the park are open year-round, but some of the higher elevation areas will be closed off for weather concerns. Hurricane Ridge remains open on weekends in the winter for snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding, while the rugged coastline looks particularly wild in the winter months.

Read more about the best time to visit Olympic National Park

No matter what time of year you're visiting Olympic National Park, you'll want to pack sturdy hiking shoes, waterproof layers and a reusable water bottle. The park has a varied climate, so while you might be in shorts and a t-shirt on the coast, you'll probably need warmer layers to explore the alpine peaks. Washington is notoriously wet outside of the summer months of June-August, so proper rain gear is always a good idea, and sunscreen, a camera and a daypack will be helpful year-round.

Read our Ultimate Packing List

Internet access and mobile phone service are spotty to nonexistent within the park. In neighbouring towns like Port Angeles or Forks, you'll be able to find a connection, and most accommodations within the park will have Wi-Fi.

Yes, there are black bears in Olympic National Park. When travelling to any wilderness area, it's always good practice to stay alert on trails, practice safe camping by using a bear canister to store food and keeping a clean campsite.

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about accessible travel


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