Winter Storm Watching on Olympic Coast

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Storm waves on the Pacific Ocean at the beach

Storm waves on the Pacific Ocean at the beach

Olympic National Park has 73 miles of coastline that turns into a wave-crashing show in the winter. From November through February, storms coming in from the Pacific Ocean have wind gusts up to 60 miles-per-hour, not to mention the rain, sometimes accumulating six inches in 24-hours. The wind and rain combined can make it look like it's raining horizontally. Ocean swells can be 15 to 20 feet high and they toss fallen logs around the beach like they were Tinker Toys.

The best time to watch a storm is when the tide is coming in and at high tide. In between storms, use the sunny time to explore the beach with its tide pools and tossed, teetering wood.

Best Places to Watch Storms on Olympic Coast

Kalaloch Lodge

Kalaloch was voted as one of the top locations in Western Washington to watch storms, by viewers of King 5 TV in Seattle for two years in a row. The lodge is high on a bluff so you have a great view and you’re above the crashing waves. Get a cup of hot clam chowder from the restaurant and relax in front of a window for the entertainment of the day. (

Quileute Oceanside Resort

The Quileute Oceanside Resort, completely surrounded by Olympic National Park, is in La Push right on First Beach. Get a deluxe cabin with a jetted tub next to a large window overlooking the beach. You can soak in a steamy bath while watching the drama. If you're brave, don your wetsuit and venture out of your room just steps to the beach to experience the battering. (

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery is the northwestern-most point in the contiguous United States so it goes without saying that the Pacific can be relentless against this rocky point. Take the Cape Flattery Trail near the tiny town of Neah Bay to several overlooks at the cliffs. Note that the trail is sometimes flooded in places so be prepared with your boots and gaiters. You need a Makah Recreation Permit to access the trailhead and parking lot. (

Need an Olympic National Park map? Buy the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park map at 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.


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.

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.

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 hiker on Shi Shi Beach. Photo by David Krause

Hike Shi Shi Beach to Point of Arches on Olympic Coast

This 8-mile round trip out-and-back trail travels along the northern Olympic Coast among tide pools and sea stacks, down to Point of Arches.

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.

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.

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.

Sea stacks on Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park

Pacific Coast in Olympic National Park

The park’s wild coastline features both easy-access beaches and remote wilderness. Camp on the beaches year-round.

Humpback whale breaking the water at sunset

Whale Watching at Olympic National Park

Whale watching cruises are one way to spot large marine mammals, but there are also many locations near the park where you can watch right from the shore.