Few national parks offer the opportunity to spend the morning exploring tidepools, the afternoon taking a stroll in a rainforest, and the evening having fun in the snow. The Olympic National Park is a convenient wilderness park close to Seattle. Due to this, the park is a well-liked weekend getaway national park destination and a great pit stop on a road trip when paired with other Washington National Parks.
Therefore, you should be careful to travel during a season when you can see everything you want to see. For information about what to anticipate when traveling during each season, check our pages using the links on the right.
Olympic National Park
There is plenty of parks to explore at Olympic National Park, which is made up of numerous distinct zones. This summary is intended to help you get started with organising your trip to Olympic National Park.
The park’s electronic newsletter, the Olympic Bugler, has an updated schedule of seasonal events. Although Olympic National Park is open every day of the year, several roads, campgrounds, and other visitor amenities are closed or have shortened hours from October to May.
No matter what the calendar says, always be aware that the climate in the Olympics can be unexpected. Before your visit, it’s a good idea to look at the weather on the National Park Service website.
1. Spring Animals at Olympic National Park in April, May, and June
The ideal time of year to see Roosevelt Elk close to the Olympic National Park rainforests is during the early spring, which begins in the lowlands of the park in March. The best season to go to Olympic National Park to see black bears is typically between May and June. These intriguing huge creatures start to become energetic in the river valleys during the spring, where they feed on the newly emerging plants. Additionally, Olympic National Park offers fantastic opportunities for bird watching during the spring bird migration, especially around May.
As temperatures rise in the spring, Banana Slugs, amphibians, snails, as well as other characteristic rainforest species can be observed on hiking paths in Olympic National Park. The greatest seasons to see the tidepools in Olympic National Park are spring and summer when creatures like the Giant Green Anemone can be seen at their peak from early April through late August. In Olympic National Park, spring is also the finest season for viewing & photographing waterfalls.
In May, the Hurricane Ridge road often changes from being open only during the winter season to being open every day. Call the automated road condition report for Olympic National Park at 360-565-3131 or monitor Hurricane Ridge’s Twitter account until March to find out if the road is accessible the morning you want to drive up to Hurricane Ridge. Daily reports should be available by 9:00 AM on the morning you plan to visit Olympic National Park.
As you go in height in Olympic National Park, wildlife is frequently seen along the side of the road, especially in the early morning or at night when the snow begins to melt as well as the subalpine wildflowers & plants start to grow.
2. Wildlife in the Summer Olympic National Park: July and August
The ideal time of year to visit Olympic National Park is during the summer if the amount of rainfall is one of your primary considerations. The average monthly precipitation is historically lowest in the month of July. Even though the summer months are frequently sunny and beautiful mountain scenery, many of the characteristic rainforest species of Olympic National Park, such Banana Slugs, won’t emerge in low humidity.
The endangered Olympic Chipmunk perches on a rock and eats a seed head with its hands in its mouth.
Late April often marks the beginning of the high country access season, which includes Hurricane Ridge hiking and animal viewing excursions. As the snow melts, wildlife from Olympic National Park, including the Olympic Marmot, Olympic Chipmunk, Snow Hare, Black Bears, & breeding birds, comes to life in the Olympic Mountains.
Wildflowers in Olympic National Park begin to blossom as the days become longer and the snow melts. As long as the soil is moist, flowers will continue to blossom. At Hurricane Ridge (just over 5000 feet), the peak wildflower season can begin as early as the end of June. Peak wildflower season, however, fluctuates from year to year as a result of seasonal temperatures affecting snowfall.
An adult Bald Eagle with brilliant yellow eyes peers down at you from the top of a large Douglas Fir tree covered in cones.
During the summer, a variety of wild berries ripen in the lowlands and draw wildlife, particularly birds, from the Olympic rainforest. Photographers frequently plan their trips to Olympic National Park between mid-July and mid-September because consistently sunny weather can be a key factor.
Additionally, Chinook (King), Pink, & later Coho salmon migrate to Olympic National Park rivers to breed beginning in September. Elwha River hiking & dam removal tours provide information on the major river restoration project in the world. There are 22 animal species in Olympic National Park that have been spotted eating fish carcasses, & where there are salmon, there are Bald Eagles.
In the past, people used to tell tales about how it was impossible to sleep near the river because of how noisy the wildlife in Olympic National Park was at night when it was feeding on Elwha salmon.
3. October and September
Locals on the Olympic Peninsula might argue that autumn is the greatest season to see animals in Olympic National Park. Fall brings amazing rainforest animal spectacles to Olympic National Park, such as Roosevelt Elk bugling during the breeding cycle in September.
No vacation is complete without seeing these iconic rainforest creatures since Olympic National Park was established to conserve the Roosevelt Elk (and offers both summer & winter habitat). The ideal time to see Roosevelt Elk in the fall is on an elk & hiking tour in the Hoh Rainforest, which is surrounded by Big-Leaf and Vine Maples that are in full bloom. Black Bear is traversing a subalpine meadow with a few strewn, stunted trees in the distance.
As snow frequently does not start to fall until October, fall continues to be a fantastic time to visit the high country. Wildlife in Olympic National Park, including black bears, will continue to graze in the mountains as long as there remains food available, such as huckleberries. Along with wildlife observation, climbing Olympic National Park’s mountains in the fall is just breathtakingly magnificent. Starting in late August & lasting through October, it’s typical to see uncommon species like the Golden Eagle, Merlin, and Western Meadowlark during their fall migration.
An extended pale yellow, almost white banana slug stands out against the soggy ground underneath it.
Fall temperatures remain warm, and as humidity levels increase, familiar rainforest creatures of Olympic National Park’s hiking trails, such Banana Slugs, snails, & amphibians, begin to reappear. Countless odd and beautiful mushrooms, including coveted foods like chanterelles, are typically first seen in October.
When it rains in the fall, the highest peaks will also get a dusting of snow, & pockets of deciduous trees & shrubs will turn dazzling colours of yellow and red. Fall is the perfect season to visit the Olympic National Park for all of the reasons mentioned above.
Hikes and Trails in Olympic National Park
This itinerary will cover the top walks in Olympic National Park, including exploring the Hall of Mosses and following the Hoh River. Let’s begin right away.
1. Blue Glacier via Hoh River Trail
In Olympic National Park, there is a beautiful but challenging hike called the Hoh River Trail. The Hoh River is followed by the trail, as you might have imagined, but it also passes by the Hoh Rainforest & elk. The Hoh River Trail towards Blue Glacier is 34 miles long in total. Thus it’s frequently done in portions or as a multi-day hiking excursion.
So where should we start? Visitor Center for Hoh Rain Forest. You can start your hike from this location by finding the Hoh River Trailhead. After about a mile, you arrive at the Hoh River. From that point on, the trail would frequently cross rivers and be covered in muck.
The trail is level and densely forested up until you reach Glacier Meadows. You’ll go by a number of campgrounds & Five Mile Island, a popular location for elk sightings. After you leave the meadows, the terrain gets a little steeper, so plan a few extra breaks and snacks.
Most people only go to Five Mile Island & back if they are doing the hike in one day (no permission is required). You might even attempt the entire hike to Blue Glacier. Just keep in mind that because the Hoh River Trail is indeed an out-and-back trail, you will eventually have to go back the way you came.
2. Via the Spruce Railroad Trail to Lake Crescent
The Lake Crescent Trail, commonly known as the “Spruce Railroad Trail,” is a stunning stretch of abandoned railroad that runs beside the beaches of Lake Crescent. A glacier lake called Lake Crescent is encircled by mountains. It is among the most well-liked tourist destinations in Olympic National Park.
For families with older kids who wish to tackle longer distances while sticking to simple track conditions, the Lake Crescent Trail is a very level, family-friendly hike. After passing over the Devil’s Punchbowl bridge, you’ll stroll through forested pathways with beautiful lakeside vistas. Even a few tunnels are present.
East Beach Road and Camp David Junior Road both lead to the Lake Crescent Trail. After passing through a tunnel and a beautiful bridge on your way to the Devil’s Punchbowl, you’ll circle around to finish the out-and-back trek. For the route, allow three to four hours, plus more time if you wish to swim.
3. Hurricane Ridge Trail to Hurricane Hill
Looking for a quick but enjoyable hike? The excellent and most easily accessible walk in Olympic National Park is Hurricane Ridge Trail. It’s important to note that both names for the trail—Hurricane Hill Trail and Hurricane Hill Trail—can be used interchangeably. The peak of the well-maintained asphalt trail offers sweeping views of the Olympic peninsula. As an added treat, mountain goats might be seen on the way.
Drive up Hurricane Ridge Road to reach the trailhead. The Hurricane Hill Parking Lot is where you should park after passing Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, where you can stop and speak with National Park Service Rangers about any important matters.
From here, you climb the trail northward, which begins rather flatly before getting steeper as you go. The short elevation gain shouldn’t be too problematic because the hike is so short. Anyone with a modest degree of fitness can enjoy hiking on Hurricane Ridge Trail.
4. Trail From Klahhane Ridge To Mount Angeles
Try the Klahhane Trail to Mount Baker if you’re an experienced hiker used to scrambling and navigating perilous terrain. The Klahhane Ridge Trail is difficult for the faint of heart, but adrenaline seekers will welcome the challenge.
A magnificent green ridge with sweeping views of the Olympic National Park is called Klahhane Ridge. You’ll approach the ridge slowly before continuing your ascent of Mount Angeles, the highest mountain close to Hurricane Ridge. The hardest part is climbing Mount Angeles, where you’ll have to deal with rough scree, a quick elevation change, and unmarked switchbacks.
The hardest portion of an otherwise easy hike is this last section, so take your time. 360-degree vistas of the nearby national park & mountain peaks will be your greatest reward at Mount Angeles’ summit. Enjoy the sights since you will have more than earned them. The hike should be completed in between 6-7 hours.
5. Spruce Trail at National Parks
Do you like taking short, beautiful walks rather than scaling mountains? One of the greatest treks in Olympic National Park if you want to put in the least amount of work and get the most out of it is Spruce Nature Trail.
With its abundance of old-growth trees and thick undergrowth, the Hoh Rainforest is straight through on the 1.4-mile loop, immersing you in its lush surroundings. The nursing log phenomenon, where saplings emerge from downed trees, is what makes the trail so famous. You may observe the enormous, centuries-old trees now arranged in neat rows as well as the little, newly-planted trees as the process is still ongoing.
When trekking the Spruce Nature Trail, it’s more crucial to remember your camera than your hiking boots. However, it can get a little muddy after rain. The short Spruce Nature Trail makes it a simple complement to a full day of hiking in the national park.
6. Obstacle Point Through Deer Park
A beautiful out-and-back track in the Hurricane Ridge region is called Obstruction Point. Impressive views from Mount Olympus as well as the neighbouring mountain summits, are to be expected. This trail is ideal for a day excursion because it is 13.9 miles long, and the full hike should take you about six hours. It can be difficult in some places, so pack trekking poles for navigating scree and wear sturdy hiking boots.
Due to Hurricane Hill’s frequent closures, we advise beginning at the Deer Park Trailhead rather than the Obstruction Point Trailhead. This track takes you through dense forest for the first few miles before emerging onto a hill and offering stunning mountain vistas.
One of Hurricane Ridge’s quietest treks is the Obstruction Hill Trail via Deer Park; it’s the best option if you prefer a more tranquil hike in the great outdoors. It’s a little trickier than Klahhane Ridge, but if you’re up for the task, it’s a lovely one.
7. Trail of Blue Mountains
It is more of a picturesque stroll than a trek because Blue Mountain Trail is so simple. Beautiful views of the area are provided by the 0.4-mile trail loop that circles Blue Mountain.
On a congested, stony road with gaps in the road rail in some places, you wound your way up the hill through the deep forest. Since the route is so beautiful, taking your time and navigating the road safely shouldn’t be a problem.
When you get to Deer Park Campground, follow the left fork and keep going up the hill for a few more miles. You can enjoy the fifteen-minute climb around the peak after arriving at the Blue Mountain Trailhead.
8. Highway Divide at Olympic Peninsula
The High Divide & Seven Lakes Basin Loop is another name for the High Divide Trail. The 19-mile course is difficult and takes an average of 11 hours to finish; bring plenty of snacks with you when you go out on it. Fortunately, you’ll continue to be encouraged and inspired along the road. From Sol Duc Waterfall to the Blue Glacier & (of course) the stunning Seven Lakes Basin, there is a tonne lot to see. The High Divide Journey has the most en-route attractions of all these hiking trails, making it a great choice if you want to fit a lot into one trail.
There are many things to do in the Olympic National Park, like the wild pacific coast, Olympic wilderness, Lush rain forests, National Oceanic Views, Pacific coastline, temperate rainforests and so on. First and foremost, keep in mind that Hurricane Crest Road is closed throughout the winter, with the exception of Friday through Sunday & holidays that fall on Mondays.
You should plan your vacation properly because Hurricane Ridge is one of the most well-liked locations in the park and provides quick access to the Olympic Range. Second, you should consider the crowds; summer is the biggest season, and people start to thin out in the fall. Finally, and most crucially, you need to think about the weather. Olympic National Park’s rainforest ecosystems can receive up to 140 inches of rainfall.