Olympic National Park: RVing on the Washington Coast

Olympic National Park Rocky Coast

Olympic National Park Coast
Olympic National Park Coast | Source

Washington’s Olympic Peninsula - The Pacific Coast

Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is a place of diverse natural beauty, and no place is more beautiful than the rugged coastline that borders the Olympic National Park. There are three distinct regions of the Olympic National Park: the mountains, the rain forest and the coast. Because each area not only boasts of it’s own ecosystem, but is totally different from the others, I have chosen to write separate articles about each area.

This article will focus on the section of the Olympic National Park that stretches along the beautiful Pacific coast. Since we approached the park from the east, we came to the Olympic mountains first and our first experience with the Olympic National Park was at the Park visitors center in Port Angeles. (See my other hub Olympic National Park – Hurricane Ridge-Wildflower Pictures for pictures and information about the mountainous area of the park.) After spending more than a week exploring Hurricane Ridge, the Olympic National Park Rain Forest and the Olympic Peninsula, we moved on to the Olympic National Park Coast, one of the most beautiful places of the Pacific Northwest.

Views of the Pacific Ocean in the Olympic National Park

Looking through the trees at the Pacific.
Looking through the trees at the Pacific. | Source
Rocky coast of Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Rocky coast of Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source
Rocky coast of Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Rocky coast of Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source
Rocky coast of Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Rocky coast of Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source

Rugged and Rocky Olympic Coast

The Olympic National Park coastline is a 48 mile stretch of wilderness, one of the longest uninhabited coastal areas of the U.S. Sea Lions, eagles, seals, otters, whales and numerous sea birds live in this area. You have a good chance of seeing many forms of wildlife if you take time to walk along the coastline or hike some of the coastal trails.

Along much of Washington's rugged and rocky coast you will find fantastic rock formations sprouting from the water. Walk along the shoreline during low tide to see many different sea creatures in the shallow tide pools, but always check the tide schedules before you go exploring the shoreline. Tides can come in quickly, and strand the unwary hiker by cutting off the return route.

Olympic National Park Campground Views

Campsite overlooking Pacific Ocean at Olympic National Park. Washington.
Campsite overlooking Pacific Ocean at Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source
Campsite picnic area at Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Campsite picnic area at Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source

Views at South Beach. Olympic National Park

Tree trunks on the beach.  Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Tree trunks on the beach. Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source
Giant tree trunk on the beach.  Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Giant tree trunk on the beach. Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source
Beach near South Beach campground.  Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Beach near South Beach campground. Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source

Campgrounds with a View on the Olympic Coast

Kolaloch, with 170 sites (drinking water and dump station available), sits on a bluff 50’ above the beach. Many of the campsites are wooded, though some are in open areas with a view of the Pacific. South Beach, a few miles farther south, has no facilities. This campground is also situated on a high bluff, but sites are free of trees and brush. There are quite a few sites where RVers can park parallel to the ocean.

Unusual Giant Timbers on the Pacific Beaches

In places, high bluffs look down on beaches which are often strewn with giant timbers. These trees are washed down from the mountains during storms and carried into the ocean by the rushing water. After being tossed and tumbled in the ocean, they are tossed ashore, often piled like giant match sticks on the beaches. These timbers provide shelter and food for various birds and other wildlife along the coast. Don’t plan on swimming in this area as the waters are cold and treacherous with huge logs floating just beneath the surface.

Two of the park’s coastal campgrounds overlook such beaches: Kolaloch and South Beach (see below for more information). If you are lucky, as we were, you can get a campsite with an ocean view and a trail to the beach where you can get a close-up view. You won’t miss little luxuries like electricity when you can view a Pacific sunset while sipping a glass of wine before the campfire in your campsite.

Pacific Sunset at the Olympic National Park

This is one of the beautiful sunsets we enjoyed while camping in one of the Olympic National Park's coastal campgrounds.
This is one of the beautiful sunsets we enjoyed while camping in one of the Olympic National Park's coastal campgrounds. | Source

Incredible giant tree stump washed onto the beach

Giant tree stump washed up on the beach.  Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Giant tree stump washed up on the beach. Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source

Lodging in the National Park

Kalaloch Lodge - Open year around

Forks, WA 98331

Lake Crescent Lodge - Open late Apr - Oct

Port Angeles, WA 98362

Log Cabin Resort - Open mid Feb - 24 Dec

This resort also offers RV sites with hookups
Port Angeles, WA 98362

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort - Open weekends Apr - mid May;
fully open mid May – Sep
This resort also offers RV sites with hookups
Port Angeles, WA 98362

How to prepare for your visit to the Olympic coast

Make your visit to the Olympic coast even better by going well-prepared. Be sure to stop into one of the visitor centers to pick up local maps as well as a map of the Olympic National Park. Rangers can also give you maps of trails and suggest walks suitable for your activity level. For your own comfort, safety and enjoyment, pack a small pack with the following items:

  • Maps and Trail guides. Area visitor centers and the National Park visitor centers can provide you with local road maps as well as a good map of the Olympic National Park. If you plan to hike, be sure to pick up trail maps and ask the park rangers for a tide schedule.
  • Snacks or lunch and water. There are few towns and restaurants along the northern coast, but there are many places where you can stop to have a picnic. Pack a lunch before you go and be sure to take some water and drinks along.
  • Binoculars. Most of the bluffs are at least 50 ft. above the sand beaches, and while offering a good view, are not close enough to small objects to see detail without binoculars. Viewing the ocean and beaches from above will be more fun if you have a pair of binoculars to zero in on sea lions, birds or even whales.
  • Digital camera. Carry along a digital camera with a zoom feature. There are too many wonderful scenes that you'll want to preserve.
  • Walking shoes. Trails down to the beach and through the woods can be steep, slippery and rough. For your own safety, don't wear flip-flops or sandals.
  • Hat and sunglasses. Even overcast days can have a bright glare, especially near the water.

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Camping in the Olympic National Park

The Olympic National Park has 16 campgrounds and a total of 892 campsites. Some of these campgrounds are open all year, while others close in the winter. The Kolaloch campground on the coast will accept reservations in the summer months. All the other campgrounds are on a first come, first served basis. Like many National Park campgrounds, none of the campgrounds have water or electric hookups, though water is usually available at a central location in each campground. There are no showers or laundry facilities.

RV Camping in Olympic National Park

If you are RV camping in Olympic National Park, it’s usually best to call ahead to check on size restrictions. Size limits range from 21’ to 35’ for RVs. Fees range from $12-18 a night, but if you are disabled or a senior with an America the Beautiful pass, you will get a 50% discount on camping. Dump stations are available for a $5 fee at the Fairholme, Hoh, Kalaloch, Mora and Sol Duc campgrounds.

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Copyright ©2010 Stephanie Henkel

Travel the World on a Hub!

This article is part of a series in which HubPages community members share insider tips about their hometowns and surrounding area and places they've personally experienced.

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12 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Oh YES I would enjoy visiting the Olympic National Park! I love each and every National Park I have ever seen. Years ago when we were in Port Angeles wrapping up a trip that started in Seattle and went to Vancouver and Vancouver Island, we tried driving up the mountain but the fog was settling in and we couldn't see a thing! So we drove back down and visited Lake Crescent Lodge and had a meal there. Beautiful spot!

So enjoyed this hub and your fantastic pictures! Thanks!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA Author

Olympic National Park was one of our very favorite National Parks. I guess we were just lucky because we had clear days when driving up to Hurricane Ridge and sunny weather while we were on the coast. We did run into fog on one of our other drives that cut visibility to almost zero - scary! Lake Crescent is gorgeous, too. The lodge must have been a lovely place to have a meal.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

It truly was a beautiful spot to enjoy a meal. The visibility driving up that mountain became just about zero which is why we turned around and went to "Plan B" and enjoyed Lake Crescent.

It would be a hard choice for me to make to list a favorite National Park. There are just too many with different types of beauty. I'll say it again...I loved seeing the pictures you included in this hub! You take great pictures!


ayliss08 profile image

ayliss08 4 years ago from Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

wow, really beauitiful! I hope I will have the chance to visit the Olympic National Park, to enjoy its great beauty.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Ayliss08 - The Olympic National Park on the Washington coast is one of the most beautiful and diverse places in this country. I know you will enjoy it when you visit someday. Thanks for your comment!


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

Olympic National Park is one of my very favorite National Parks. There's so much so see and do, and the scenery is breathtaking. Wonderful hub, Stephanie - voted up, useful, interesting and awesome and beautiful.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Mperrottet - I agree that Olympic National Park is one of the most beautiful National Parks. I'm so glad you enjoyed the article - thanks so much for your very nice comments and for the up votes!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Stephanie,

I just published a hub about the 3 national parks in Washington and was happy to be able to add a link from this marvelous hub to mine about the Olympic National Park. Thought that you would want to know. Thanks! This time sharing your hub with my followers.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Very enjoyable. Fantastic pics!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

rebeccamealey - I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub on RVing the Washington Coast. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA Author

Peggy W - Thanks so much for the link. Your hub on 3 national Parks in Washington was great and I will be linking to it in my hubs on Olympic National Park. I do think we share a love of nature and of our country's beautiful and amazing National Park system, and I'm always happy to read your hubs on them. Thanks for the share, Peggy!


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Stephanie, this is a lovely hub with matching photos. It sounds like a dream vacation to do it via RV. Voted up for beautiful!

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