Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Elisabeth is a writer and editor who specializes in the outdoors, environment, health, food, culture, and science. Her work has appeared in Backpacker, Sunset, Grist, Organic Life, Women's Adventure, 5280 (Denver's city magazine), National Park Journal, and more. When she's not scaling peaks in pursuit of a story, Elisabeth loves cooking, paddling, cross-country skiing, and feeding her addiction to self-serve frozen yogurt.

Olympic Coast Sea Stacks. Photo by Justin Bailie

10 Best Things to Do on an Olympic National Park Vacation

Olympic National Park and the surrounding areas are a Things to Do Mecca! You’ll be hard-pressed to fit it all in a single vacation.

Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park's Sol Duc Valley

Called the most beautiful falls in Olympic, the hike to the falls is a short and easy one. Walk one mile through old-growth forest to the overlook.

Kayaking on Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park

Things to Do in the Water at Olympic National Park

With crystal-clear lakes, cobalt rivers, and the Pacific Ocean all within a few miles of each other, Olympic NP offers plenty of opportunities for water fun.

Storm waves on the Pacific Ocean at the beach

Winter Storm Watching on Olympic Coast

73 miles of coastline turn into a wave crashing show in the winter. From Nov through Feb, storms coming in from the Pacific have wind gusts up to 60 mph.

A girl sitting on stump in front of an RV in Olympic National Park

RV Camping at Olympic National Park

Ready to take your home away from home into the park? Olympic NP is an excellent place for RV camping, with options ranging from oceanfront to rainforest.

Sea stacks on Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park

Sea Stacks on Olympic National Park's Coast

Iconic rock posts and arches jutting up from the sand along the Washington coast are what define the national park's beaches. Here's where to see them.

Roosevelt elk in Olympic National Park

Roosevelt Elk in Olympic National Park

The largest wild herd of Roosevelt elk in the Pacific Northwest lives in Olympic, so your chances of spotting one are good.

Waterfall in Olympic National Park in autumn

Autumn in Olympic National Park

Elk bugling to show off to their harems. Huge colored maple leaves twice as big as your hand. Eagles, otters, and bobcats feeding on spawning salmon.

Sea Star Ochre at Olympic National Park

Explore Tide Pools at Olympic National Park's Coast

During low tides, the Pacific Ocean retreats from the beaches and exposes pools of water in rocky crevices that team with sea life.

Kayaking on lake in Olympic National Park.

A Perfect Day in Olympic National Park

Got 24 hours? Get the most out of them with this guide.

Mt Rainier pond reflection

Mount Rainier National Park

Locals call it The Mountain—and once you see it towering, it’s clear the 14,410-footer owns the title.

Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park Ecosystem Zones

Olympic National Park contains four distinct and remarkable ecosystems—and even better, it’s possible to see all four in one day.

Rainbow over Hood Canal

Rainfall and Tides in Olympic National Park

Olympic has a reputation for rain—and true, parts of the peninsula receive 12 feet of rain every year, but summer brings warm, dry weather.

Bald Eagle. Photo by Jeff Vanuga

Bald Eagles in Olympic National Park

These huge birds of prey—they can weigh more than 14 pounds, with a nearly 7-foot wingspan—are most frequently spotted roosting in trees along the Olympic coast.

Sea Otter

Sea Otters on the Olympic Coast

These lovable marine mammals can be found on the Pacific coast from Alaska to northern California, including Olympic National Park.

Mountain Lion. Photo by Jeff Vanuga

Mountain Lions in Olympic National Park

Count yourself very lucky if you spot one of these elusive big cats—shy and wide-ranging, the park’s mountain lions are rarely seen.

Black Bear. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Black Bears in Olympic National Park

Black bears (but not grizzlies) live throughout Olympic, roaming far and wide in search of ripe berries, spawning salmon, tree bark, and insects.