Top 10 Things to Do in Olympic National Park

Updated on March 18, 2019
ercramer36 profile image

My family and I love to travel and explore new places. We have been blessed to travel across the United States.

Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source

For our family vacation in 2018, my wife and I loaded up the kids and drove out to the Pacific Northwest on a 14-day road trip. We stopped in Glacier National Park on the way out and spent four days in the Seattle area. The last day that we spent in the Seattle area, we explored Olympic National Park. The park offers snow-capped mountains, temperate rain forests, and more than 70 miles of rugged coastline. It was amazing and awe-inspiring. Here is a look at the top ten things to do in Olympic National Park.

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Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, WashingtonHurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, WashingtonHurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, WashingtonHurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, WashingtonHurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, WashingtonDeer at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, WashingtonDeer at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, WashingtonFawn at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, WashingtonHurricane Ridge Visitor Center at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington | Source
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington | Source
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington | Source
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington | Source
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington
Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington | Source
Deer at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington
Deer at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington | Source
Deer at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington
Deer at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington | Source
Fawn at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington
Fawn at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington | Source
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center at Olympic National Park in Seattle, Washington | Source

1. Explore Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge offers incredible views of the Olympic Mountains from an elevation of 5,242 feet. It is named Hurricane Ridge because the winds have been known to blow over 75 miles an hour there. Hurricane Ridge is 17 miles south of Port Angeles, Washington. It is home to one of the Olympic National Park visitor centers, two picnic areas, a campground, and eight different hiking trails. In the winter, it offers skiing, tubing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

We loved the time that we spent there. I was a little disappointed as we were leaving Port Angeles and starting our climb to Hurricane Ridge because it was cloudy. As we drove higher and higher, we entered a dense fog bank. I was getting more disappointed as we drove until we reached Hurricane Ridge. I happened to look over as we rounded the corner to the top and saw that we were now above the clouds. It was amazing.

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View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National ParkView from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National ParkView from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National ParkView from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National ParkView from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National ParkView from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National ParkView from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National ParkView from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National ParkView from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park
View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park
View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park | Source
View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park
View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park | Source
View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park
View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park | Source
View from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park
View from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park | Source
View from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park
View from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park | Source
View from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park
View from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park | Source
View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park
View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park | Source
View from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park
View from the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park | Source
View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park
View from above the clouds along the Hurricane Hill Trail at Olympic National Park | Source

2. Hike to Hurricane Hill

Hiking to Hurricane Hill is a must. It offers tremendous panoramic mountain views. On a clear day, visitors can see the Pacific Ocean. The Hurricane Hill Trailhead is about two miles from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. It is about a 3.2-mile roundtrip hike. The trail gains about 700 feet of elevation with most of it coming on the switchbacks at the base of Hurricane Hill. The Hurricane Hill Trail follows a ridge and offers incredible mountain views on both sides of the trails. It is a good idea to arrive early in the day as this is a popular trail and the parking area fills up.

We hiked to Hurricane Ridge when we were there. We ended up parking at Picnic Area A since the parking lot at the trailhead was not open because of construction. It added about an extra half mile to the hike, but it was worth it. As we hiked, there were overlooks where we were above the clouds. It was awe-inspiring to be above the clouds. When we reached the top, the views were amazing. We had a 360-degree view of mountains peaks and could see Mt. Rainer sticking above the clouds to the south. It was awesome! I cannot recommend this hike enough.

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Ruby Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRuby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRuby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRuby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRuby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRuby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRuby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRuby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRuby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Ruby Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Ruby Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source

3. Visit Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park is a must-see. It is a rugged and rocky beach on the Pacific Ocean with rock islands known as sea stacks. It is known for its reddish sand that kind of looks like little rubies. There is a lot of driftwood that has piled up on the shore. It is also an incredible place to watch sunsets.

We drove to Ruby Beach after our hiking to Hurricane Hill. We arrived late in the afternoon and were surprised how much colder it was here. We spent about an hour there checking out the beach, sea stacks, and driftwood. It was amazing.

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Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRialto Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRialto Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonRialto Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rialto Beach at sunset at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Rialto Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rialto Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Rialto Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rialto Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Rialto Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rialto Beach at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source

4. Visit Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach is another beautiful spot to explore. It is known for its smooth pebble covered shore, large driftwood, and sea stacks. It is also the starting point to a hiking trail that leads to one of the best tide pools in the park at Hole-in-the-Wall. Rialto Beach is north of La Push, Washington. It is a little out of the way, but well worth a visit.

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Squirrel at the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonHoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonHoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonHoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonHoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonHoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonHoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonHoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonHoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Squirrel at the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Squirrel at the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source

5. Explore the Hoh Rain Forest

The Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park offers visitors a chance to see a lush temperate rain forest. Each year it receives over 14 feet of rain plus another 30 inches from fog and mist. It is home to Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock trees. The Western Hemlock can grow over 300 feet tall and seven feet around. The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is the best place to start exploring. There are two great trails to check out: Hall of Mosses Trail and Spruce Nature Trail. It is best to visit this area when it is wet because everything is green and lush. The Hoh Rain Forest is a must-see.

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Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonLake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonLake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonLake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonLake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonLake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonLake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Lake Cresent in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source

6. Visit Lake Crescent

Lake Cresent is a pristine, cold, clear, and beautiful lake. At 624 feet deep, Lake Cresent is the second deepest lake in the State of Washington. It is about 17 miles west of Port Angeles in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains. Lake Cresent offers hiking, picnics, boating, kayaking, swimming, and more.

We did not have time to stop and spend much time here, but the drive along the edge of the lake was breathtaking. The water was very blue. I have it on my list for the next time we go back. I highly recommend spending time at Lake Cresent.

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Map of the Olympic Loop DriveWashingon Lavender Farm in Sequim, WashingtonWashingon Lavender Farm in Sequim, WashingtonWashingon Lavender Farm in Sequim, WashingtonView from Hurricane Hill Trail on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington.Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington.Sunset at Ocean City, Washington - We spent the night at a hotel on the beach.
Map of the Olympic Loop Drive
Map of the Olympic Loop Drive | Source
Washingon Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington
Washingon Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington | Source
Washingon Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington
Washingon Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington | Source
Washingon Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington
Washingon Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington | Source
View from Hurricane Hill Trail on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington.
View from Hurricane Hill Trail on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington. | Source
Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington.
Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington. | Source
Sunset at Ocean City, Washington - We spent the night at a hotel on the beach.
Sunset at Ocean City, Washington - We spent the night at a hotel on the beach. | Source

7. Drive the Olympic Loop Drive

Driving the Olympic Peninsula Loop Drive is a must at Olympic National Park. Starting in Olympia, Washington, the loop drive is about 332 miles. Take Hwy U.S. 101 north and follow it all the way around until hitting U.S. Hwy 12 near Montesano and then follow WA-8 east back to Olympia. The Olympic Peninsula Loop Drive gives visitors a chance to see all of the different ecosystems that the park has to offer. It takes visitors near most of the best areas of Olympic National Park including Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge, Lake Cresent, Hoh Rainforest, Ruby Beach, and more.

On our visit there, we drove much of the loop drive. One of the places that I would recommend stopping is around the Sequim, Washington area. It is a little east of Port Angeles and offers many different lavender farms which are beautiful. After spending a few hours at Hurricane Ridge and hiking to Hurricane Hill, we continued past Lake Cresent and drove over to Ruby Beach. The drive was gorgeous.

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Marymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonMarymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonMarymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonMarymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonMarymere Falls Trail at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonMarymere Falls Trail at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Marymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Marymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Marymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Marymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Marymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Marymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Marymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Marymere Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Marymere Falls Trail at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Marymere Falls Trail at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Marymere Falls Trail at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Marymere Falls Trail at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source

8. Visit Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls (90 feet) is incredible. The trail starts at the Storm King Ranger Station. After hiking about a half mile, there is a trail junction. Take the trail to the left and the falls is another four-tenths of a mile. There are two viewpoints for the falls. The first looks down on the falls from the hillside. The second is at the base of the falls. Marymere Falls is beautiful and well worth a hike.

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Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonQuinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonQuinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonQuinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonQuinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, WashingtonQuinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Quinault Rain Forest at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source

9. Visit Quinault Rain Forest

The Quinault Rain Forest is in the "Valley of the Rain Forest Giants" because of how large the species are there. The rain forest receives 12 feet of rain each year and is home to Alaskan Cedar, Mountain Hemlock, Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, and Western Red Cedar. It is also home to five out of the ten biggest Douglas Fir trees. It is on the western side of the Olympic Mountains and offers several hiking trails, Lake Quinault, a short scenic loop drive, and campgrounds. It is also a great place to see rain forest elk, which is larger and darker than Rocky Mountain elk. The Quinault Rainforest is a beautiful area and a must see when visiting Olympic Mountain National Park.

Rocky Brook Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington
Rocky Brook Falls at Olympic National Park near Seattle, Washington | Source

10. Hike to Rocky Brook Falls

Hiking to Rocky Brook Falls is quick and easy. It is only about a tenth of a mile hike. The falls itself is 229 feet tiered horsetails falls and is near Brinnon, Washington. Rocky Brooks Falls is beautiful and well worth a quick stop.

Don't Miss a Chance to Visit Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is awe-inspiring. From the top of Hurricane Ridge to the lush rain forests, to the rugged Pacific Ocean beaches, there are so many different things to see and do there. My family and I fell in love with it as soon as we made it to the top of Hurricane Ridge. We cannot wait to go back again and explore more of the park.

Map of the Top Ten Things to Do in Olympic National Park

A
Hurricane Ridge:
3002 Mt Angeles Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98362, USA

get directions

B
Hurricane Hill:
Hurricane Hill Trail, Washington 98363, USA

get directions

C
Ruby Beach:
Ruby Beach, Washington 98331, USA

get directions

D
Rialto Beach:
Rialto Beach, Washington, USA

get directions

E
Hoh Rain forest:
18113 Upper Hoh Rd, Forks, WA 98331, USA

get directions

F
Lake Crescent:
Lake Crescent, Washington 98363, USA

get directions

G
Marymere Falls:
Marymere Falls, Washington 98363, USA

get directions

H
Quinault Rainforest:
Quinault Rain Forest Trailhead, S Shore Rd, Quinault, WA 98575, USA

get directions

I
Rocky Brook Falls:
Brinnon, WA 98320, USA

get directions

© 2019 Eric Cramer

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    • ercramer36 profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Cramer 

      4 weeks ago from Chicagoland

      Thanks Larry! I agree it is an amazing place.

    • Larry Slawson profile image

      Larry Slawson 

      4 weeks ago from North Carolina

      Such a beautiful place! My brother traveled there a few years ago and still talks about how much he loved it. Hope I can visit in the near future. Thank you for sharing.

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