From ice-encrusted crags to crisp glacial lakes to over 70 miles of salty ocean beaches and the deep quiet damp of the temperate rain forest, Olympic National Park is a small paradise on earth. In summer, deer and bear meander across slopes strewn with wildflowers, while visitors mosey along narrow trails that penetrate this beautiful wilderness. Alpine lakes, remote camp sites and some of the best that the Northwest has to offer in terms of natural setting can be found here. Within three hours from the Seattle area you can find short, sedate and scenic hikes or, with the proper pack, begin long, solitary, strenuous treks through almost one million acres of wilderness.
Take a day-hike on one of the many trails that range in length from half a mile to many miles, or backpack across the park via interconnected trails. Pitch your tent at one of the spots designated for campers along the way. Keep your food sealed away in the back country to avoid midnight visitors of the furry bear-like or raccoon kind. Or, pull your RV into a secluded spot, or check in to a homey lodge.
The interior of the park, about 95% of the whole park, is a designated Wilderness Area. There are roads that skirt the edges of the park and several penetrate a few miles into the interior like spokes on a wheel. Hurricane Ridge, 17 miles south of Port Angeles, will give you the best view of the interior mountains. On a clear day Mount Olympus and the entire mountain range are visible to the south and Vancouver Island, Canada, and the San Juan Islands are laid out to the north.
In winter, Hurricane Ridge opens for snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and the snow is no problem for some backcountry exploration. It’s called Hurricane Ridge for a reason, so if the road is closed during the winter for safety reasons, have a low-country backup plan. Hiking one of the Olympic National Park beaches, is a good alternative to snow play. Ruby Beach, Rialto Beach and Second Beach are favorites any time of the year.
Olympic National Park is about 100 miles west of Seattle as the crow flies and the ferry rides.