You’re headed to Olympic National Park where almost 1 million acres of rainforest, coastline and alpine terrain await you for an adventure full of fun. But where should you camp? Here’s a personalized guide to help you decide where to spend the night, from car camping paradise and remote backcountry sites to a slice of RV heaven.
One thing to know is at Olympic, you will need cash or a check to pay for your site at all national park-managed campground sites. Often, you will pay at unmanned kiosks where change cannot be given for overpayment.
What type of camper are you?
I love car camping
In which ecosystem do you want to lay your head?
My tent is an RV
How important are hookups?
Not important: 2, 3, 4
It's backcountry or bust for me
What terrain do you want to hike?
1. Deer Park Campground
For incredible views in Olympic’s only high-alpine campground, head to Deer Park Campground open June through mid-October, depending on road and weather conditions. Located at 5,400 feet up a steep, winding gravel road, Deer Park offers exceptional views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan De Fuca.
It’s also one of the drier places in the park as it sits on the eastern side of the park. While the Hoh Rain Forest can get up to 140 inches of rain per year, Sequim, just north of Deer Park, only gets 18 inches. The tradeoff is this rustic campground, equipped with 14 sites, has no potable water. Bring your own water jug.
For $15 per night, this first-come, first-served campground does have pit toilets. Each site has a picnic table and a fire pit with grates, although you need to bring your own firewood since firewood gathering is not allowed.
There are excellent day hikes that leave from the Deer Park area, including the .5-mile Rain Shadow loop, the 7.4-mile one-way hike from Deer Park to Obstruction Point and the 4.3-mile hike to the junction with Gray Wolf River.
2. Fairholme Campground
Camp near the clear, blue waters of Lake Crescent for a classic lakeside experience in Olympic. It’s open early April through late October.
A first-come, first-served campground, Fairholme’s 88 sites come equipped with fire pits with grates and picnic tables. The family friendly campground also has flush toilets, animal-proof food storage, potable water and a dump station for RVs that cost $10 per use. It can accommodate RVs up to 21 feet. A site costs $20/night.
A boat launch is nearby and there are tons of trails for every ability leaving from the striking blue Lake Crescent and around it, ranging from Moments in Time, a short .6-mile loop, to Barnes Creek, 7.5 miles one-way.
3. Hoh Campground
Place yourself in the heart of a rainforest at the Hoh Campground. With more than 140 inches of rain a year, Hoh Rain Forest will not disappoint. In fact, noted for its moisture, mosses, bigleaf maples and vine maples, it is one of the best examples of a temperate rainforest in the world.
Surrounded by ancient trees and moss, the Hoh Campground’s 88 sites are first-come, first-served, open year-round and cost $20 per night. There are flush toilets and potable water available. Additional perks are the summer ranger programs that take place at the campground, as well as several great hikes that leave from the area. You can literally walk for miles on the Hoh River Trail or just 1.2 miles on the Spruce Nature Trail.
RVs up to 21 feet are welcome here and a dump station charges $10 per use.
4. Kalaloch Campground
If having a reservation is more important than hookups, make a reservation at the beautiful Kalaloch Campground that sits alongside the Pacific Ocean. It’s the only national park service-administered campground that accepts reservations in the summer months from June through September. Off-season, the 170-site campground is first-come, first-served.
At Kalaloch, the largest campground in the park, sites accommodate RVS up to 21 feet, along with a few sites that accommodate 35-foot RVs. You will have access to a dump station, flush toilets and potable water. The facilities are handicap accessible, but the beach access trail is not handicap accessible. Book online at www.recreation.gov.
The Fairholme and Hoh Campgrounds also have RV spots but do not have hook-ups. (See descriptions above)
5. Sol Duc Hot Springs RV and Campground
Hook ups and hot springs help make Sol Duc Hot Springs RV and Campground the RV paradise of Olympic National Park, especially since it is one of only two sites that offer hook-ups in the park. The resort is nestled under evergreen trees along the Sol Duc River. A popular 3-pronged waterfall is a short distance down the trail.
Open March 25 to Oct. 30, it offers 17 sites with gravel parking that accommodate vehicles that are 26-26 feet long. The sites are back-in only. Each site has a frost-free hydrant, water lines, lighted power pedestals with 30 and 50-amp options.
Be aware that no sewer is provided, so RVs must have their own toilets and have systems that contain sewer waste. A fee-based dumping station run by the National Park Service is a quarter of a mile away. There also are two ADA RV sites.
Reserve your spot online at www.olympicnationalparks.com.
6. Enchanted Valley
From waterfalls and wildlife to an old-growth rainforest, backpacking to Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park is an incredible experience at 26 miles round trip.
From the Graves Creek trailhead located in the southwestern part of the park, you will follow the Quinault River through an old-growth temperate rainforest as you make your way 13 miles to Enchanted Valley. There are four backcountry sites along the way: Pony Bridge, O’Neil Creek, Pyrites Creek and Enchanted Valley. There are pit toilets at O’Neil Creek and Enchanted Valley campsites.
A three-mile valley full of waterfalls, this area is also home to active bears, so bear canisters are required as is an understanding of what to do if you encounter a bear along the trail. You can borrow bear canisters at the Wilderness Information Center or South Shore Quinault Ranger Station near Lake Quinault Lodge. Park officials suggest a $3 per canister donation helps to perpetuate the program and provide education materials.
7. Shi Shi Beach to Point of Arches
An 8-mile round trip backpacking adventure, your route from Shi Shi Beach to Point of Arches is a beautiful stretch of tidal pools, sea stacks and driftwood. Don’t forget to pack your Frisbee for this seaside adventure.
The first two miles are in the forest on boardwalk and a path that can get very muddy, depending on if it has rained recently. A steep descent to the beach with ropes to hold onto opens up to incredible Pacific Ocean views. Farther down the beach, you will start to see campsites on the beach and in the forest above. Always camp far above the high-tide mark.
To backpack here, you will need two permits - a Makah Recreation Pass that you can pick up in a variety of places in Neah Bay and an Olympic National Park wilderness permit that you can get at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles. At the WIC, be sure to get a tide table, know how to read it and speak to the ranger about your plan. It’s best to be at Point of Arches at low tide.
You also will need animal-proof canisters that you can rent for a $3 suggested donation from the WIC in Port Angeles. Lastly, you will need to pay for overnight parking that is walking distance from the day parking at the Makah Shi Shi Trailhead.