Only have a short amount of time in Olympic National Park? Don’t waste your time trying to decide where to get the best views in this almost 1-million-acre, lush paradise. If you want to feel on top of the world, here are three fantastic spots that offer incredible vistas.
Mount Olympus from Grand Ridge
To get sweeping views that include Mount Olympus, hike a portion of the Deer Park to Obstruction Point along Grand Ridge. The reason we recommend just hiking part of the distance is the hike from Deer Park to Obstruction Point is a rigorous 15-mile roundtrip day hike.
Instead, do a 5-mile roundtrip out and back that brings you to the highest point on the trail at 6,600 feet right at the turn-around spot 2.5 miles in. That way, you still get the best views of the hike, including of the glaciated Mount Olympus (7,969 feet high) and Mount Cameron (7,170 feet high), without wearing out the soles of your hiking boots.
At the 2-mile point, you will hit 6,600 in elevation at the junction of Badger Valley cutoff. Continue for just about a half-mile further until the trail starts to drop. Turn back here.
To get to the Deer Park trailhead, turn south off of Highway 101 onto the 18-mile, narrow and steep Deer Park Road, between Sequim and Port Angeles. Deer Park Road turns to gravel for the last nine miles. The park service emphasizes that this road is not suitable for RVs or trailers. From late fall until melt out in late spring, the road is closed at the park boundary, about 9 miles from Highway 101. The trail starts right near the Deer Park Ranger Station.
See the Cascades and Vancouver Island from Hurricane Hill, a partially paved hike on Hurricane Ridge, famous for its gusts that hit the ridge at 75 miles per hour. This popular 3.2-mile round trip hike gives you incredible ocean and mountain views when it is clear out. It also gives you a sense for what it’s like to exercise at altitude as you’ll be hiking above 5,000 feet the whole time with about 700 feet in elevation gain.
Open all summer, Hurricane Ridge is 17 miles south of Port Angeles on Hurricane Ridge Road, off of Mount Angeles Road. During winter months, the road is scheduled to be open Friday through Sunday and holiday Mondays, weather and road conditions permitting. All vehicles must carry tire chains during the winter season. Check the road status before coming by calling 360-565-3131. The trailhead leaves from the parking area near the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.
Point of Arches on Shi Shi Beach
While this is not a view from up high, the view is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Pacific Northwest. The Shi Shi Beach walk to Point of Arches is a stunning 9-mile round trip adventure.
The caveat is the first two miles of this hike offers no views, unless your definition of views is close-ups of Sitka spruce amid very muddy trails. The last section down to the beach is steep with ropes to help you descend. Continue the last 2.5 miles to Point of Arches, which is a mile-long stretch of sea arches. Best when in low tide, look for sea otters and creatures in tidal pools along the way.
It’s essential to pack a tide table to avoid getting trapped when the tide comes up if you head south of Point of Arches. Tide tables are available at any visitor center in the park and are mandatory. Without a tide table, you could end up trapped when the tides rises.
Don’t forget a Makah Recreation Pass is required for each vehicle parking at the trailhead. You can buy the pass at Hobuck Beach Resort, Makah Tribal Center, Makah Marina and Washburn General Store, among other places.
Need an Olympic National Park map? Buy the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park map at REI.com. The map includes clearly marked trails and points of interest such as scenic views, campgrounds, trailheads, boat launches, picnic sites, ranger stations and more printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.