Attractions in Olympic National Park

Things to do in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park's true distinction lies in its stunning diversity of things to do in Olympic National Park with a lot of everything human and natural history, unusual flora and fauna, utter wilderness and spots for every kind of outdoor recreation. The park divides neatly into three major areas—the glaciered mountains and highcountry of the interior; the lush rain forest of the west-facing valleys; and the rugged wilderness coastline. Magnificent waterfalls, wide alpine meadows sparkling with avalanche lilies, larkspur and Indian paintbrush, eerie moss-bearded forests dripping with fog, and cliff-lined beaches await today's adventurous explorer provides ample attractions in Olympic National Park.

Olympic National Park Attractions
Olympic National Park Attractions

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge is located in the northern half of Olympic National Park. Hurricane Ridge is the heart of day use activity. Starting at Port Angeles along Puget Sound the seventeen-mile long Hurricane Ridge Road snakes up the side of the Olympic Mountains to 5,240 feet. With the road sanded and paved by the National Park Service, Hurricane Ridge is a source of year round outdoor adventure.

For the first five miles the road climbs from 400 feet above sea level to just under 2,000 feet at the Heart O The Hills Ranger Station, the only overnight facility at Hurricane Ridge. Over the next twelve miles as you climb up the narrow road and through three different tunnels the plant life around you goes through a gradual change. Western red cedar, big leaf maples, grand firs, Pacific yew, and sword ferns give way to sub-alpine forest and wild flowers. The road passes by a number of scenic overlooks with the Double Parking Overlook, located about two miles past the third tunnel, being the best.

Hurricane Ridge, top attraction in Olympic National Park, can be enjoyed throughout the year. During the winter months, snow enthusiasts enjoy the winter scenery, along with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding. During the spring, wildflowers cover the ground of the subalpine meadows and blacktail deer are often spotted grazing. Sunrise and sunset on a clear day provide magnificent panoramic views of the park.

Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge

Lake Crescent

Nestled in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains is another great attraction in Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent lies about 18 miles west of Port Angeles. The pristine waters of this deep, glacially carved lake make it an ideal destination for those in search of natural beauty. A massive landslide isolated Lake Crescent from Lake Sutherland approximately 7,000 years ago. There are two uniquely adapted populations, the Crescenti and Beardslee trout, that resulted from genetic isolation following this event.

There are plenty of picnic areas around the lake. Fairholme, Bovee's Meadow, La Poel, and the North Shore all have tables. Many people enjoy going out onto the water during the summer and fall. Boat launches are located at both east and west ends of the lake. Rowboats are available for rental from Lake Crescent Lodge. Whether it's kayaking, sailing, or simply relaxing on the beaches and shores making Lake Crescent a great place to visit for tourists and visitors.

Lake Crescent
Lake Crescent

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach is one of the most accessible of the West End beaches. There are no long walks through amazing forest or across flower strewn meadows. Here, you just drive to the beach, park, get out, and walk. This may make Rialto Beach a bit more crowded than some in the peak season. Rocky beaches, giant drift logs, pounding waves and views of offshore islands known as 'seastacks' are features that define Rialto Beach.

Just inland is the Mora area, characterized by towering trees, lush undergrowth and the omnipresent roar of the Pacific Ocean in the background. Rialto Beach is accessible by Mora Road, off of La Push Road. Rialto Beach is about 36 miles southwest of Lake Crescent, and about 75 miles from Port Angeles.

Rialto Beach, one of the most popular destinations is a major attraction in Olympic National Park with a classic beach hike, with crashing waves, towering sea stacks, tide pools, and a unique rock tunnel called Hole-in-the-Wall. If you hike the easy 1.5 miles along the beach to Hole-in-the-Wall, plan for frequent stops as you can discover starfish, sea urchins, anemones, crabs, and other critters in all the nooks and crannies

Always check the tides! It's possible to get stranded when certain areas of the coast become impassable when high tide rolls in.

Hole in the Wall, Rialto Beach
Hole in the Wall, Rialto Beach

Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park attractions

The Hoh Rainforest is the Olympic National Park´s classic densely forested entrance in thousands of brilliant shades of green. Just 30 minutes from Forks the Hoh Rainforest is the quiet star of the rainforest valleys. As you travel down the quiet country "Upper Hoh Road" you will be treated to glimpses of the sometimes teal and other times grey Hoh River. It travels from the glaciers of Mount Olympus to the Pacific Ocean in less than 70 miles. The Hoh river is a must see for nature-lovers who want more than a drive through version of the rainforest. At the visitor center people can inform themselves on flora, fauna and backcountry camping. This is the favorite entrance for climbers to reach Mount Olympus and its many glaciers. Many activities are availabe in the Hoh valley, including rafting, kayaking, biking and hiking. Expansive logging roads circling the outscirts of the park are an explorer´s dream come true.

Hoh Rain Forest
Hoh Rain Forest

Quinault Valley

Majestic glacier-carved and glacier-fed Lake Quinault is surrounded by the mossy old-growth trees of the Quinault Rain Forest, one of only three temperate coniferous rain forests in the Western hemisphere. The Quinault Valley that creates Lake Quinault and the Quinault Rainforest is known as the "Valley of the Giants." Here you will find the largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world, along with other nationally recognized giants of Hemlock, Douglas Fir and the mighty Western Red Cedar. Lake Quinault is located on the Southwest end of the Olympic National Park. The towering trees and lush green forest of the Quinault Valley is known as the best place to see the Rainforest when visiting the Olympic National Park.

Miles of trails, swimming, boating and fishing are easily accessible from the many campgrounds and resorts around Lake Quinault and within the Quinault Rainforest. A 30 mile self drive loop road takes you around the lake venturing into the South end of the Olympic National Park. Bring a camera, hiking shoes and plenty of rain gear as Lake Quinault measures 144 inches of rain a year. Roosevelt Elk, Black Tail Deer, Cougar, Bald Eagle, Bobcat, Black Bear and a gorgeous view of the Olympics are a must see as you visit Lake Quinault and travel the scenic 30 mile Quinault Rain Forest Loop Drive.

The East Fork Quinault River
The East Fork Quinault River

Kalaloch

Kalaloch is known for its wide sandy beach.  The Kalaloch area has two campgrounds, a concession-operated lodge, a ranger station with exhibits and information desk, a picnic area, self-guided nature trails.For thousands of marine species, these coastal waters are a safe haven. The marine environment and offshore islands are protected by three national wildlife refuges and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The refuges manage the islands visible above high tide waters for 135 miles along the coast. Large nesting colonies of birds like common murres and tufted puffins need these rocky outposts.

Kalaloch is one of the most visited areas of Olympic National Park. Kalaloch and Ruby Beach are located on the southwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula. They are accessible directly off of Highway 101. Hiking the southern coast of the Olympic Peninsula provides some amazing sights of the pristine beaches and marine wildlife. North of Ruby Beach, the Hoh River creates a natural boundary. Kalaloch is a great place for bird watching. Western gulls, bald eagles, and other coastal birds can be spotted nesting and feeding along the southern coast.

Kalaloch
Kalaloch

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Comments 2 comments

hypnosis4u2 profile image

hypnosis4u2 4 years ago from Massachusetts

I visited Olympic National Park back in the 70's and 80's and it is a wonderful region to visit, and your hub brought back a number of reminders of those trips especially the vies along Hurricane Ridge. Thanks for hub.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Beautiful photos and great information in this hub. I never made it up Hurricane Ridge due to fog and clouds obscuring the view but did get to enjoy a meal at Lake Crescent Lodge. Linked this hub to my latest about the 3 national parks in Washington. Up, useful, beautiful and interesting votes.

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