Don't miss these sights in/near Olympic National Park
We had an epic adventure exploring the Olympic National Park region! Here are some of our favorite things to do plus a few tips along the way. Please note that some of these activities are scattered around the peninsula so you will definitely want to have a car. Also, having a 4-wheel drive car is a bonus on the winding and wet roads.
- Don’t pay attention to the weather but always be prepared for rain. Don’t let rain deter you from any sights on the peninsula because it rains quite often with little or no warning. Make sure you bring a rain coat, good hiking shoes, and keep a change of clothes in the car just in case. Keep in mind it is called a rainforest for a reason! Peak season (summer) usually sees less rain. We went during April and experienced a fair amount of rain but it did not bother or deter us from seeing everything we wanted to.
- If you go during off-season, keep in mind many restaurants and shops are closed or close much earlier than normal! We found this out the hard way a couple of times as the closing times listed on TripAdvisor or Google are not always correct! We did however enjoy the fact that when you go during off season (Winter) you can visit many of these sights without the crowds! Bring a passport if you would like to take the ferry over to Victoria, Canada for the day.
1. Merymere Falls - Olympic National Park
Someone suggested we check out this waterfall because of the instant gratification that comes from being quickly transported to another world just a few steps from your parked car. To get here you have to take the 101 along Lake Crescent, which is a gorgeous site in itself. Park near the Lake Cresent Lodge or ranger station, check out the trail map, and start your journey.
The hike to the falls is a fairly easy and you will be rewarded with beautiful scenery along the way. A vibrant green moss covers most of the forest floor and hangs from the canopy of trees. We reached the falls after about a 20 minute hike so we highly recommend this activity for a quick outing in the area. You cross over a crystal clear river on the way to the falls. Although the waterfall is not as dramatic as others we have seen, we thoroughly enjoyed the hike and scenery to get there. Definitely recommend!
2. Ruby Beach - Olympic National Park
Ruby Beach is a wonderful Northwest beach that is a part of the coastal section of Olympic National Park and offers some great scenery and photography. At one spot on the beach, there are hundreds of giant logs washed up on the shore that have been tumbled and worn down by the ocean over many years. You can get some incredible photo ops here. There are also some great sea stacks - rock formations in the ocean with trees and vegetation growing on them.
The beach itself is actually comprised of millions of smooth stones, so don’t expect a soft sandy beach! When the waves go out you can hear the stones clanking together creating a beautiful symphony of sounds. We highly recommend going during low tide as you can check out some of the cool life forms that live in the tide pools. Check a tide chart before you go!
3. Hoh Rainforest - Olympic National Park
Hoh Rainforest - We almost didn’t go here because we read reviews saying that the Hoh Rainforest was just like the walk to Merymere Falls. We were glad we didn’t listen to the reviews and went anyway. The drive through Olympic National Park to the rainforest is incredible and we saw packs of elk grazing on the way.
When you reach the rainforest, check out the “Hall of Mosses” trail, an easy 1.5 mile loop that showcases the many types of tress and mosses in the park. It felt like we were in a fairytale as it is a truly magical place. The path takes you over the Hoh river, which I don’t believe I have seen water that clear in my entire life.
Here you will see some of the most incredible moss covered tress that you'll never forget. Do not miss this one!
4. Cape Flattery
Cape Flattery - Expect around a 2 hour drive to Cape Flattery from Port Angeles, but it's worth every minute of it. Cape Flattery is the Western most point of the lower 48 states. It is on the Makah Indian Reservation so be respectful of their laws. Once arriving at the cape, you must walk about a half mile until you are rewarded with dramatic vistas.
Seeing cliffs worn away by the turquoise water below is a jaw dropping experience. There are multiple vistas and vantage points for some great photo ops and get views of the mighty Pacific Ocean. Be sure to hit all the lookout points!
5. Hurricane Ridge - Olympic National Park
Hurricane ridge is in the middle of the Olympic National Park Mountain range. This can be closed quite often during the winter due to heavy snowfall, so be sure to call before you go to find out if they re open before making the trip. The weather here changes rapidly so be prepared for anything and dress in multiple layers. You can even rent snowshoes from the visitor center!
Some incredible views await you of the mountain range and Pacific Ocean at some of the spectacular lookout points. You can find the status of the park and any road closures Here.
6. Lake Crescent - Olympic National Park
Lake Crescent has some of the most stunning blue water you will ever see. Located on the North side of Olympic National Park, it is the second deepest lake in Washington with depths of over 600 feet! Highway 101 winds along the lake for some awesome views. There are not too many points where you can pull over so be sure to take advantage of the few that are available and get some great photos while you're at it!
I hope you enjoyed this list of things to see and do while on the Olympic Peninsula! Be sure to check out some of our other articles below to find more awesome things to do around the globe.