Hurricane Ridge Area
Along a narrow thread of the park boundaries jutting up north into Port Angeles, Wash., is the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles. Stop here to get your park pass, pick up a park map, shop the bookstore and get a lay of the land from park staff.
This road leads to Hurricane Ridge, which is about seventeen miles south of Port Angeles. Along the ridge, you’ll find Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center with a snack bar and gift shop and a number of trails that lead you to striking views on a clear day. The visitor center staff offer guided walks and programs in the summer.
Lake Crescent Area
From Port Angeles, Wash., you can take US 101 to Lake Crescent and then access the coast, Hoh Rain Forest area, along with the southern areas of the park. South of Lake Crescent lies the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, a camping area and ancient groves. There is no park entrance or visitor center at Lake Crescent or Sol Duc.
To explore a lake near the coast and hike along the coast, you can enter the park via Ozette. Head north along 112 until you reach the Hoko-Ozette Road and then drive west toward the coast. This area is home to the Ozette Ranger Station open daily from June through Labor Day and a 2,000-year history of human settlement. The rich legacy left by humans was largely discovered after a storm surge in 1970 eroded banks revealing remarkably preserved artifacts. Archaeologists have unearthed 300-year-old longhouses, more than 50,000 artifacts and clues to an ancient hunting and gathering society.
During whale migration, you can spot gray whales when you walk on one of two three-mile boardwalk trails to the coast. Alternatively, the longer Ozette Loop connects Cape Alava and Sandpoint trails via a 3.1-mile hike on a sandy and rocky beach for a 9-mile loop.
Seventy-one miles from Port Angeles, you can explore pristine beaches and the rainforest on the northwestern tip of Olympic Peninsula at Neah Bay, home to the Makah tribe. An estimated 1,500 Makah people live in and around Neah Bay today, although up to 4,000 people lived there during prehistoric times. Visit The Makah Cultural and Research Center to see wooden artifacts and learn more about Makah traditions and history.
Shi Shi Beach is not far from the Makah trailhead. Hike two miles from the Makah trailhead to the beach, passing through a lush rainforest before spotting the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Strait of Juan De Fuca to the north. The last section of the trail can be pretty muddy, so it’s a good idea to wear hiking boots. As you leave the forest, the route to the beach is quite steep with ropes to help you navigate down. From the beach, you can walk an additional 2.5 miles to Point of Arches, a parade of sea stacks. But be forewarned. You will need a tide chart if you decide to do this walk. High tides have stranded beach walkers and can lead to potentially dangerous situations.
Access the northern coast via the Mora area by taking US 101 to Hwy. 110. You’ll find the Quileute Indian Reservation here, an area of land not part of the park, along with the park’s stunning Rialto Beach, First Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach.
Hoh Rain Forest Entrance
Located 31 miles south of Forks off US 101, the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center offers visitor information, a bookstore and exhibits, along with self-guided nature trails. It is open daily in the summer and open weekends during the off-season. It closes for January and February.
Approaching the southern end of the park, you can continue west on US 101 past Lake Quinault and enter the park via Hwy. 21 to the Queets area or continue further west to the coast, entering the park at South Beach, followed by Beach 1 and Beach 2. Just north of this string of beaches is the Kalaloch Ranger Station sits on the coast near Kalaloch Lodge.
If you are entering the park’s southern boundaries from Aberdeen, you will immediately enter the park at Lake Quinault where you’ll find one of the park’s famed rainforests, along with the Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station. On the opposite side of the lake, on the east side, you’ll find U.S. Forest Service/National Park Service Recreation Information center.
Near the town of Hoodsport, follow the road past Cushman Lake to the Staircase entrance of Olympic National Park. There you’ll find a ranger station, campground and hiking trails through old-growth forests.