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Olympic National Park is big. A million acres of wilderness on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington means there’s a lot to see and do. However there are no roads bisecting the park, meaning to get from one area to another requires driving. We are already used to driving on this National Park to Park Highway tour, but even so, it was surprising how far apart the different areas in Olympic are.
Don’t expect to see Olympic National Park in one day. Because of the diverse ecosystems within Olympic the different areas almost feel like completely different parks.
Plan your trip based on location first. Here were our favorite places to visit in Olympic.
Hike the Hall of Mosses – This short hike was the perfect introduction the Hoh rain forest region of Olympic.
Watch for Wildlife – A herd of Roosevelt Elk live within the Hoh rainforest and unbeknownst to me a black bear was seen on the Hall of Mosses trail the day before I hiked it with my baby. In addition to big mammels, Olympic is known for its diversity of animal and plant life including marine animals, birds, insects and forest creatures.
Boat on Lake Crescent.
Explore the Coast – Kalaloch and Ruby beach are located in the south western corner of the park. Kalaloch campground has 175 reservable spaces, assuming you reserve them six months in advance.
Stack Rocks on the Beach – We loved exploring Rialto Beach a bit further north on the Pacific. The waves were so fierce it wasn’t safe to swim, but we enjoyed watching the water and stacking rocks on the beach.
Explore the Quinault Ranger Station area – The Quinault rain forest has some great short hikes to enjoy with kids.
Learn about spawning salmon and dam removal in the Elwha area.
Stay at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.
Splash in the Water – Whether it’s the Hoh River, the Pacific Ocean, Lake Crescent or Lake Sutherland, Olympic National Park has lots of water to play in.
Backpack in the Olympic Wilderness – While we sat at Rialto Beach a mother and her two sons started on a backpacking journey along the north coast of Washington. I watched her enviously. To have children old enough to carry their own packs and not have to be carried! And what a cool trail, hiking the wild coastline, always aware of tides and water safety. Much of Olympic is preserved as wilderness area, so the backpacking options are seemingly endless.
Have you ever been to Olympic National Park? What’s your favorite area to explore?