After exploring many of the National Parks, Monuments, and Forests that grace the beautiful United States, we have never been as captivated as we were by the diverse beauty of Olympic National Park. The towering mountains cascade down into the majestic Pacific ocean, leaving you with an overwhelming sense of tranquility. No other National Park exists that can offer snow capped mountain tops, lush rain forests, gorgeous alpine lakes, and sea stack coast lines, all within its boundaries. Olympic National Park should be on everyone’s National Park bucket list, and is an absolute must see if you are anywhere near in the Pacific North West.
- Hurricane Ridge
- Lake Crescent
- Marymere Falls
- Sol Duc Falls
- Cape Flattery
- Shi Shi Beach
- Hoh Rain Forest
- Ruby Beach
- Tree Root Cave
Olympic National Park’s diverse landscape can be broken into 4 major areas, the Washington coastline, the Olympic Mountains, The Hoh Rainforest, and the dryer East Forest. This post will cover the first three areas, as they offer the best distinctive scenery.
The Northern side of the park allows access to Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent from the small ocean side town of Port Angles. Hurricane Ridge is the highest vehicle friendly point in the park, and gives breathtaking views of Mt Olympus and her sister peaks. During the summer months, Hurricane Ridge offers access to 100’s of miles of backcountry hiking through the Olympic Mountains. From fall to spring, Hurricane Ridge is home to some amazing back country skiing opportunities , and is open to skiers and riders every weekend throughout the winter season. Paired with incredible views and fresh powder, Hurricane Ridge’s Ski and Snowboard Area offers both groomed and backcountry skiing accessed by rope tows. Check out trail conditions, ticket pricing, and ski school information at: https://hurricaneridge.com/.
West of Hurricane Ridge is Lake Crescent, an amazing alpine lake encased by the snowy peaks of Mt Olympus. Make camp here for the night, or rent a cabin at the Lake Crescent Lodge. The Historic Lake Crescent Lodge was built in 1915, and offers a myriad of different living accommodations, making it an idel base camp for you Olympic National Park exploration. Reserve a room now at:https://www.olympicnationalparks.com/lodging/lake-crescent-lodge/ .
After cooling off in this brilliant aqua marine alpine lake, travel east on historic 101 for one mile to the Marymere Falls trailhead. Marymere Falls trail is a 2 mile loop over a well maintained dirt path, which leads you through some incredible lush vegetation to the 90 foot waterfall.
Sol Duc River
Head South on highway 101 to Sol Duc falls, an Olympic National Park favorite. Meaning “magic waters” in Quillayute, Sol Duc Falls was named after a well known native legend which tells the story of two dragons who fought to a draw and were sealed in the deep falls. A 2 mile loop will bring you to the head of the falls, which include three sister 50 foot cascades. After a fun hike and packed lunch at the falls head back to the Sol Duc hot springs for a soak in this resort like mineral pools. Unlike many of the natural hot springs in the area, Sol Duc Hot Springs has been rebuilt to offer a more lavish feel, complete with a bathhouse and lodge. Spend the $12 to enjoy the revitalizing waters of the mineral springs to ad an amazing experience to your trip.
You can’t say you’ve been to the “Upper Left” PNW until you have experienced Cape Flattery. Known for being the northwestern most point in the lower 48, Cape Flattery is a great stop to enjoy some picturesque sunset sea stacks. The Fuca Pillar, a tall rectangular sea stack is the tallest of these stacks The Cape Flattery viewpoint is reached from a short 1 mile boardwalk hike, giving you incredible views of Tatoosh Island and the Cape Flattery Lighthouse.
Shi Shi Beach
Just south of Cape Flattery lies a beautiful backcountry beach know as Shi Shi beach. In the Heart of the Makah Indian Reservation, Shi Shi Beach is a small sliver of gorgeous beach front obtained by Olympic National Park in 1976. Meaning “Smelt Beach” in Makah, Shi Shi beach offers incredible sunset views, as well as a wide array of sea life. Hunt for starfish and sea anemones while exploring the Shi Shi Shipwreck on the north side of the beach. A very muddy 9 mile loop hike will take you from the trailhead to the backcounty camping area, which with proper permits is friendly to wilderness camping. If you are in search of a romantic beach getaway, Shi Shi beach should top your list of outdoor adventures. Be sure to pick your permit up ahead of time at https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/shi-shi-beach-olympic-wilderness.htm
After enjoying the incredible beach views of northern Olympic National Park, continue south to the lush greenery of the Hoh Rainforest. With multiple short (<2 mile) hikes, this area of the park brings you through the enchanting rain forests that the Pacific North West is famous for. Set a day aside to explore these fun areas, being sure to complete the Hall of Moses and Spruce Nature Trails for incredible scenery. If feeling adventurous take the 18 mile hike on the Hoh River Trail to the Mount Olympus Summit Trail. For more information on this beautiful multi-day hike visit: https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/climbing-mount-olympus.htm
After enjoying the tranquility of the Hoh Rainforest, finish your Olympic National Park trip with a visit to Ruby Beach and Tree Root Cave. Named after the ruby-like crystals in the sand, Ruby beach is covered with sun bleached drift wood, and natural sea stack bridges. During select seasons, beach camp fires are permitted, so be sure to break out the s’mores and spend a relaxing night enjoying the coastal breeze.
5 miles south at the Kalaloch Campground lies a spectacular site know as Tree Root Cave. Also know as the “Tree of Life”, Tree Root Cave is an in-explainable natural phenomenon showcasing a large tree whose root system has been left with no stability due to erosion. Despite harsh coastal winds and storms, this Tree of Life survives and maintains itself as a truly wonderful site. Book your campsite reservation for Kalaloch campground now at https://www.thekalalochlodge.com/explore/olympic-national-park/tree-of-life.