Olympic National Park, spanning nearly one million acres, stands out as one of the most diverse national parks in the United States. Encompassing shorelines, rainforests, alpine terrain, lakes, and rivers, this Pacific Northwest gem promises endless adventures. Although our visit was brief, just two days, we made the most of our time exploring the wonders of Olympic National Park.
Deciding where to stay within Olympic National Park can be a daunting task during the planning process. With only one main road encircling the park, opting for multiple locations is advisable for stays exceeding three days. Despite our short visit, we chose the Olympic Peninsula/Port Angeles KOA Journey, providing a convenient base for our exploration of the Olympic Peninsula.
Day One: Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach, and Hole-in-the-Wall
Our first day commenced with an early wake-up call to beat the crowds at the Hoh Rainforest section of Olympic National Park, a two-hour drive from Port Angeles. Limited parking at the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center necessitates an early arrival to secure a spot. Popular trails like Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature Trail offer a unique experience in this lush rainforest. Hoh Rainforest is one of the most unique places we have visited in the US, and the only thing that would have elevated our experience would have been some infamous PNW rain.
Next, we ventured west to Rialto Beach, a rocky coastline offering access to the renowned Hole-in-the-Wall. Limited parking requires patience, and sturdy footwear is recommended for the rocky terrain. Check the tide schedule for optimal tide pool exploration. The walk to Hole-in-the-Wall is about 1.6 miles one-way and it will become inaccessible once the tide reaches about 3 feet above sea level. Before returning to the campground, we explored downtown Port Angeles, discovering the scenic Barhop Brewery for craft beers and pizza.
Day Two: Hurricane Ridge, Marymere Falls, and Lake Crescent
Our second day began with an early drive to Hurricane Ridge, a 45-minute journey from Port Angeles. Note that entrance limitations may apply due to the 2023 fire damage to the Visitor Center; check the park website for updates. The Hurricane Hill hike, a 3.4-mile round-trip, provided panoramic views of the Olympic Peninsula and abundant wildlife sightings.
Returning to Port Angeles for breakfast at First Street Haven, a charming diner, we refueled for our next stops. Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls offered a serene conclusion to our Olympic adventure. Be patient for parking at the Storm King Ranger Station, providing access to the falls and the lake. The Marymere Falls hike, a 1.7-mile round-trip, led us through lush forests to a stunning 90-foot waterfall. After our hike to Marymere Falls, we spent some time on the beach of Lake Crescent. Though chilly, it was a hot day and it was an enjoyable experience wading into the water. If you plan to swim out further or take a boat onto the lake be sure to wear a life vest.
While our two-day adventure merely scratched the surface of Olympic National Park’s offerings, it left us eager to return and explore further. The park’s diverse landscapes and outdoor activities ensure that there are endless adventures waiting to be discovered.