Ranging across 922, 561 acres of the Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park runs from Pacific beaches and temperate rainforest to lofty mountain peaks, punctuated by alpine lakes, natural hot springs and rushing rivers. Due in part to its diversity, Olympic National Park is one of those places that is frequented year-round. Sure, tourist traffic picks up during summer months when it’s usually warmer and drier, but come winter, enough snow falls at higher elevations to attract an expectedly loyal flock of fans.
Thanks to both the better weather and summer vacation, Olympic National Park is at its busiest from June through September. Visitors may find hiking trails a little more crowded but hey, considering the outdoor activities on offer, who cares? From easy dayhikes to beach scrambles and more serious backpacking forays into the interior, this is a pedestrian’s paradise. There’s also great fishing, good camping and even river rafting on the Elwah River.
Things slow down substantially in the fall as temperatures begin to drop and some campgrounds close up shop. If you get good weather, October can be a beautiful month, short the crowds but still warm enough to hike in shirt sleeves. Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to dress in layers here, whether you’re tromping along the beach or headed for higher elevation; it gets chilly quickly.
Winter brings dramatic storms that drive driftwood high up onto beaches and bring feet of soft white powder to the peaks. Hurricane Ridge, the main road-accessible mountain in the park, does duty as a family-friendly ski area once the snow is deep enough. It’s not big - think two rope tows and a Poma lift - but it’s good for a pleasant afternoon of snow fun. In the general area there’s also opportunity to do some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Spring brings wildflowers, bumbling bears and burbling snow-fed rivers to the fore. All campgrounds are usually open by Memorial Day weekend, but if you don’t mind roughing it a little you’ll find that several actually stay open all year, though the facilities are usually primitive.
So really, rain, snow or shine, there’s no good weather-related excuse not to visit this popular national park. Just pack a waterproof cover for your camera, you know, in case.