A Perfect Day in Olympic National Park

Got 24 hours? Get the most out of them with this guide.
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Wake up in the High Country

Hurricane Ridge Road.

Hurricane Ridge Road. 

Start your perfect day with a mountain sunrise. Pick up an early coffee in Port Angeles and head up to Hurricane Ridge before dawn to catch the morning rays lighting up the park. Linger and enjoy the view from the visitor center observation deck, or hike the 5.2-mile (round-trip) trail to the aptly named Sunrise Ridge for even better vistas.

Learn About the Park

Drive back to sea level to the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles. There, you can pick up park information, chat with rangers, peruse exhibits on flora and fauna in the park, shop at the bookstore and watch the 25-minute park movie, “Mosaic of Discovery.”

See a Waterfall

Bridge over Sol Duc Waterfall on Olympic National Park. Photo by Justin Bailie

Bridge over Sol Duc Waterfall on Olympic National Park. 

Head west to walk within spray range of one of the park’s cascades. Marymere Falls is an easy, 1.8-mile round-trip hike from the Storm King Ranger Station; the 200-foot-tall waterfall falls in a lacy ribbon down a lush ravine. Or go on to Sol Duc Falls, a raging, 50-foot cascade that plunges into a narrow chasm about a mile from the Sol Duc trailhead.

Paddle Lake Crescent

Kayaking on lake in Olympic National Park.

Kayaking on lake in Olympic National Park. 

Bright, clear Lake Crescent is a gorgeous place to spend a sunny day (or a rainy one!). Rent a kayak or canoe from Lake Crescent Lodge and paddle out to explore the shoreline. Fishing is also popular here; look out for two distinct subspecies of trout swimming these waters. After your paddle, stop for lunch at the lodge restaurant (ask for seats on the screened-in porch for lake views).

Marvel at the Rainforest

Tree in Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park

Tree in Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park

Continue west and south to the Hoh Rain Forest, a primeval destination dominated by enormous trees and the verdant, open canopy beneath them. Stop by the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center to learn about the area’s plants and animals, then walk a trail to crane your neck at the giant trees. If time is short, hike the .8-mile Hall of Mosses Trail or the 1.2-mile Spruce Nature Trail for a sampler. If you have more time, take the Hoh River Trail, which extends 17 miles into the forest.

Catch a Coastal Sunset

Sunset on Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park

Sunset on Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park

Nothing ends the day like a classic Pacific sunset. Catch the continent’s last rays on your pick of Olympic’s beaches. Rialto Beach is a drive-up and offers huge driftwood logs for seats; if the tides are favorable, you can also walk north 2 miles to Hole-in-the-Wall Arch. Or take the .7-mile trail through the forest to Second Beach for a more remote, wilder sunset framed by sea stacks.

Hole-in-the-Wall rock arch. Photo by David Fulmer

Hole-in-the-Wall rock arch. 

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.


Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park

48 Hours in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is unique in that it is home to four of the world’s few remaining intact temperate rainforests, a breathtaking coastline and incredible alpine peaks.

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.

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.

A family exploring the tide pools on Rialto Beach.

9 Things to Do with Kids in Olympic National Park

With four distinct ecosystems, there are tons of activities to keep the whole family happy. Here are our top family-friendly things to do in the park.

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.

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.

Sunset on the Pacific coast in the Kalaloch area of Olympic National Park.

7 Romantic Things to Do in the Olympic National Park Area

Spend a romantic weekend, celebrate Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, or just spend time together in the Olympic National Park area.

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.

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.