Olympic National Park is unique among the 450-plus national park sites. Not only is it home to four of the world’s few remaining intact temperate rainforests, but it has a breathtaking coastline and incredible alpine peaks. Here’s how to make the most of 48 hours in the park.
Day 1: Mountains and Lakes
Enjoy Scenic Hurricane Ridge
Hike Hurricane Hill
Hike Hurricane Hill and get killer views of the Olympic Mountains. At the top see mountain goats, but keep 25 yards between you and them) and get a bird’s eye view of Port Angeles and Strait of Juan de Fuca, if it’s clear.
Soak at Sol Duc
Spend the Night at Lake Crescent Lodge
Built in 1915 and sitting on the shores of Lake Crescent, this charming lodge is a beautiful place to spend the night. Choose between lodge rooms, cabins or rooms in other lodging buildings. Spend some time in the lobby reading in front of the roaring fireplace and be sure to make advanced reservations for the lodge’s dining room that serves Pacific Northwest fare.
Day 2: Beaches and Rainforests
Walk Shi Shi Beach
If the tides are low before noon, hike Shi Shi Beach in the morning to explore tide pools and sea stacks which are only accessible at low tide. The beach itself is accessible during all tide levels for hiking and camping unless you want to venture past the Point of Arches. Beyond the point, you could get trapped if the tides come up.
Call the nearest ranger station, Ozette at 360-565-3130 for more information about tides and where you can pick up a tide chart. There are no visitor centers near the Shi Shi Beach trailhead.
As an alternative, if tides are low in the afternoon, first explore the Hoh Rain Forest in the morning (see below), then head west to the coast to explore the tidal pools at Rialto Beach in the afternoon. Rialto Beach is 27 miles from Forks and directly accessible from Hwy. 101.
Be sure to stop at a visitor center first to get a tide chart and to get more information about the tides, so you don’t get trapped strolling the coast if the tides come up. Dangerous areas at high tide include Hole in the Wall 1.5 miles north of the Rialto Beach parking lot.
Head to Hoh Rain Forest
Dine at Kalaloch Lodge
Watch the sunset from the deck of Kalaloch’s dining room that sits right on the coast. It’s a spectacular spot to see the sun sink behind the Pacific Ocean. After dark, gather around Kalaloch's community fire pit to share stories of the day's adventures. Then spend the night at the lodge or one of the cabins overlooking the ocean.
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.