5 RV Tips for Olympic National Park

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RV and tents in a campground in Olympic National Park in Washington

If you don’t have your sights set on Olympic National Park in Washington yet, you’re missing out. This diverse and often overlooked park makes the perfect RV road trip. Only three hours from Seattle, this part of the country feels remote. Grab some snacks and hit the road for an epic road trip with these five tips:

1. Take the Campground Quiz

Olympic National Park has no lack of campgrounds. But with so many options, how do you choose where to set up home base to explore the park? Start by narrowing it down to one of the nine RV-friendly national park campgrounds, or one of the two Aramark campgrounds operating in the park: Fairholme, Heart O’ the Hills, Hoh, Kalaloch, Mora, Ozette, Sol Duc, South Beach or Staircase, Sol Duc Hot Springs RV & Campground and Log Cabin RV & Campground. Next, ask yourself these questions.

Do You Need a Hookup?

If you need a hookup, you’ll want to stay in one of the two Aramark campgrounds operating in the park: Sol Duc Hot Springs RV & Campground and Log Cabin RV & Campground. These are the only campgrounds in the park with hookups.

Are You a Planner?

If you’re a planner and winging it makes you nervous, you’ll want to make reservations at Kalaloch, Sol Duc, Sol Duc Hot Springs RV & Campground or Log Cabin RV & Campground. These are the only places to camp in the park that allow advanced reservations. You can reserve by going to recreation.gov for the first two, or olympicnationalparks.com for the second two.

Is Your RV Longer than 21 feet?

If your vehicle is more than 21 feet, you’ll want to avoid Ozette and Fairholme campgrounds as their sites only accommodate vehicles up to 21 feet in length. The other campgrounds have a few sites that can accommodate vehicles up to 35 feet, so arrive early to get one of these spots.

Do You Need a Dump Station?

If you need a dump station, Fairholme, Kalaloch, Mora, Sol Duc Hot Springs RV & Campground and Log Cabin RV & Campground are the campgrounds for you.

2. Check Fido’s Schedule

Olympic is one of few national parks that allows pets to explore a limited number of trails with their owners. If you’re RV-ing with your furry friend, consider hiking Peabody Creek Trail from Rialto Beach to Ellen Creek, the Kalaloch area beaches, Madison Falls Trail, Spruce Railroad Trail or July Creek Loop Trail. Your pup can even become a Bark Ranger. Inquire at the Kalaloch Ranger Station for more information. Please, never leave your pets unattended in your RV. Even when the weather is mild, temperatures in a sealed vehicle can rise quickly. According to VetrinaryClinic.com, on a 70°F day, a sealed vehicle parked in the sun can reach 104°F within 30 minutes.

Dog in an RV

3. Don’t Forget Your Passport

Did you know that Olympic National Park is just a quick ferry ride from Victoria, British Columbia? That’s right. If you bring your passport, you can head to Canada for the day from the Olympic Peninsula. The Black Ball Ferry Line has several boats that depart from Port Angeles each day, taking passengers and their vehicles across the sound to Victoria. RVs are allowed on the ferry but taking your vehicle across can get expensive. A one-way standard vehicle ticket costs $65.50 USD and includes the driver’s fare.

For a vehicle more than 18 feet in length, it costs $5.25 USD for each additional foot. If you plan to continue your vacation on Vancouver Island, it may make sense to bring your RV across. Just ensure you make reservations several days in advance to guarantee room for your RV. If you’re just heading over for a day trip, consider parking your RV in the Black Ball’s lot and buying a walk-on ticket instead. Victoria is very foot-traffic friendly, and you’ll be able to explore much of the city without a car. You can always grab a cab or rent a bike once you are on the other side as well. Just note, Uber and Lyft do not operate in British Columbia.


4. Be Prepared for Rain

The Pacific Northwest is famous for its rainy weather, and Olympic National Park is no exception. The coast can receive 100 inches of rainfall each year. July and August are the park’s driest months, but rain is still always a possibility. Make sure you’re prepared for driving in rainy conditions. If you own your RV, make sure your wipers, brakes and tires and in good condition. If you are renting, do a walkthrough with the rental company before you drive away. When rain starts, slow down. If the rain gets too heavy, consider pulling off and waiting for it to let us before continuing on. Hydroplaning is a real concern on wet roads.

5. Drive the Loop

You would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful and diverse park than Olympic. Driving the loop around the peninsula from Seattle to Port Angeles to Kalaloch to Hoodsport will allow you to see all of the park’s beauty. Snow-capped peaks, lush rainforests, breaching whales, magnificent beaches, alpine lakes, waterfalls – this park has it all. Check out our Olympic Peninsula Loop Road Trip for the best drive. 


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