Watch Salmon Swim Upstream in Olympic National Park

Watch salmon ascend the Sol Duc River in late summer and fall at this roadside overlook in the Sol Valley.

Viewing platform over the Salmon Cascades along the Sol Duc River
Viewing platform over the Salmon Cascades along the Sol Duc RiverNPS Public Domain

Salmon, trout, and steelhead are born in the Sol Duc River, but spend most of their lives in the Pacific Ocean before returning to spawn. Chinook and coho salmon ascend the Sol Duc in late summer and spawn in late fall, while cutthroat trout and steelhead run in the fall and winter and spawn into the spring. The salmon actually smell their way upstream, in search of the same waters where they hatched from the gravel a few years before. Stand on the riverside platform to watch the fish leap the Salmon Cascades.

In the spring, they return to complete their lifecycle in the snow-fed waters of the Sol Duc River. After several days the exhausted salmon die, but their life carries on in the gift of nutrients their carcasses bring to the forest and its creatures.

Watch this natural phenomenon at the Salmon Cascades Overlook on the road to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.

Map of Sol Duc Valley in Olympic National Park.