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Shaka Guide's Olympic National Park Itinerary


Map of Olympic National Park tour showcasing trails, landmarks, and visitor centers.

Olympic National Park's Varied Landscapes

Olympic National Park showcases the rugged, untamed beauty of the Pacific Northwest and consistently ranks as one of the top ten national parks in America.

Located in the remote northwest corner of Washington State, this spectacular wilderness gem has it all–alpine mountains, lush temperate rainforests, and stunning coastal beaches.

Ranging in elevation from sea level to nearly 8,000 feet, it’s one of the few national parks where you can walk along a beach and through an alpine meadow on the same day!

Exploring Olympic National Park with Shaka Guide

On Shaka Guide's Olympic National Park Tour, we’ll guide you into the wilderness regions of this Olympic-sized park.

From Hurricane Ridge to the Hoh and Quinault rainforests, to the stunning coastal beaches at La Push, Rialto, and Kalaloch.

You’ll walk through:

  • magical forests of towering evergreens
  • stroll through mountain meadows bursting with summer wildflowers
  • gaze in awe at majestic snowcapped peaks and
  • explore fascinating tidepools and rugged sea stacks

As you drive, we'll tell you the fascinating history of the region.

We'll regale you with heroic tales and legends and share about the unique plants and animals that live here in the Olympics.

With Shaka Guide leading the way, you’ll explore at your own pace. There’s no schedule to keep or crowd to follow.

You’re in the driver’s seat—literally, so take your time!

Or, if you’re in a hurry, feel free to skip a stop. We promise we won’t take it personally.

We’ve taken all the guesswork out so all you have to do is enjoy yourself.

Scenic Route Options

A winding road surrounded by tall trees in a lush forest.Shutterstock Image

This driving tour begins in Sequim on the north side of the park and heads counterclockwise to Lake Quinault.

You can also take the tour in the reverse direction, heading clockwise from Lake Quinault to Port Angeles.

Including all the side trips, the total driving time is about 7-8 hours. This does not include any stops.

Because there is so much to see and do at this Olympic-sized park, this tour is best experienced over 3-4 days. But don’t worry.

If you have less time, you can choose the places you want to visit and skip the rest.

The tour never expires, so you can always come back another time.

With over 27 potential stops and nearly 140 points of narration, you can be sure to get the most out of your visit.

If you plan to do any hiking, hitting the trails early will help you avoid the crowds and give you more time for additional hikes or beach exploration."

Olympic National Park Itinerary

1. Olympic National Park Visitor Center

 Exterior of modern visitor center with large windows and landscaped surroundings.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 15 min
  • Entry Fee: No entry fee
  • Hours of Operation: Open daily year-round; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Seasonal hours
  • Phone: 360-565-3130

Located in Port Angeles, the Olympic National Park Visitor Center features:

  • park information
  • an NPS gift/bookshop
  • a park film, and
  • exhibits about Olympic's natural and cultural history

There is also a hands-on Discovery Room for kids. Outside, there are two short nature trails and restroom buildings.

Rangers and volunteers can answer questions about hiking trails, road conditions, and tide charts.

NOTE: Leashed dogs are welcome on the Peabody Creek Trail at the visitor center.

2. Heart O' The Forest Trail

Scenic Heart O' the Hills Campground nestled in lush greenery, perfect for outdoor adventures.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 30 mins - 2 hours
  • Hours of Operation: Open year-round.
  • Walk-in only during heavy snowfall.

This lovely stroll through an old-growth forest begins in the Heart O' the Hills campground, Loop E.

There is parking by the amphitheater. Although the trail is over 4 miles roundtrip, you can see a lot in just the first mile.

Keep your eyes open for Olympic's hidden treasures like banana slugs, rough-skinned newts and Pacific tree frogs.

NOTE: Dogs are not allowed.

3. Strait of Juan de Fuca Overlook

Breathtaking aerial view of the mountain summit, showcasing its majestic peaks and surrounding landscape.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 5 mins
  • Hours of Operation: Open daily throughout summer
  • During winter, the road is open Friday through Sunday and holiday Mondays, weather and road conditions permitting. Closed all other days.
  • Call 360-565-3131 for current road conditions (recorded message).

Stop at this overlook for a sweeping view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

On a clear day, you can see across the strait to Victoria, Canada, and even as far as the Cascades Mountains.

Interpretive signs at the overlook point out the landmarks.

4. Hurricane Ridge

A breathtaking aerial view of majestic mountains and lush green forests, captured from a lofty vantage point.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 1-3 hours
  • Hours of Operation: Open daily throughout summer
  • During winter, the road is open Friday through Sunday and holiday Mondays, weather and road conditions permitting. Closed all other days.
  • Call 360-565-3131 for current road conditions (recorded message).

Hurricane Ridge features spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and is one of the most popular destinations at the park.

Gaze at majestic snow-capped peaks, walk through sub-alpine meadows bursting with summer wildflowers, hike one of the popular trails and spot wildlife like the endemic Olympic marmot.


You can access these easy paved trails from the visitor center parking lot.


The trailhead for this moderate 3-mile hike is about 1.5 miles past the visitor center. There is parking at the trailhead with overflow parking below in the picnic areas.

5. Madison Falls

Scenic waterfall cascading down rocky cliffs surrounded by lush greenery.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 15 mins
  • Hours of Operation: Open daily, year-round. 6 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Madison Falls is a lovely 60-foot cascade. This hidden gem is only a short distance from the highway and a short walk from the parking area.

Take a moment to soak in the peaceful setting. Then before heading back to your car, check out the beautiful Elwha River nearby.

This river is slowly returning to its natural state after the removal of two dams.

Also nearby is the Sweet Family Homestead where the National Park grazes its pack animals.

These horses and donkeys help pack supplies for trail maintenance.

NOTE: Leashed dogs are welcome.

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6. Lake Crescent

Sign for Lake Crescent National Park, featuring lush green trees and a serene lake in the background.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 15 mins - 2 hours
  • Hours of Operation: Open daily, year-round

Lake Crescent is Washington's second-deepest lake and one of the most pristine.

Because the water is so clear, you can see as far down as 70 feet!

And when the light hits it just right, Lake Crescent glows like a Saffire.

The Log Cabin Resort on the east shore and the Lake Crescent Lodge on the south shore offer lodging, boating, hiking and swimming.

The Fairholme Campground on the west shore features a store and a popular campground and beach.

NOTE: Leashed dogs are welcome on the Spruce Railroad Trail.

7. Marymere Falls

Majestic waterfall flowing gracefully through a picturesque landscapeImage by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 45 mins - 1 hour
  • Hours of Operation: Open daily, year-round.

The trailhead for the popular Marymere Falls hike is located near the shore of Lake Crescent.

Less than two miles roundtrip, this moderately easy trail meanders through a lush, old-growth forest.

Park near Lake Crescent Lodge where you can pick up a trail map before heading out.

From the lodge, the trail follows Barnes Creek, crosses Highway 101, and then continues upstream through a canopy of towering evergreens and maples.

You'll cross several picturesque log bridges on your way to this beautiful 90-foot cascade. There are two viewing platforms.

NOTE: Dogs are not allowed.

8. Salmon Cascades

A serene river meandering through a lush forest, adorned with enchanting waterfalls.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 5 - 15 mins

The Sol Duc River is a busy highway for different fish species including Chinook, coho, and sockeye salmon as well as steelhead trout.

The lookout at Salmon Cascades is the perfect place to watch migrating salmon leap up the cascades on their way upriver to spawn.

Even if the salmon aren't jumping, the view of the river is lovely and just a short walk from the parking area.

Interpretive signs tell the dramatic and inspiring story of the life of the salmon.

9. Ancient Groves Trail

Scenic forest trail lined with tall trees and green moss underfoot.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 15 - 25 mins

The Ancient Groves Trail is an easy, half-mile loop through a dense, old-growth forest carpeted with thick moss and ferns.

The trail offers glimpses of the Sol Duc River canyon below.

NOTE: Dogs are not allowed.

10. Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort

Sol Duc Hot Springs: A serene natural oasis with steaming pools surrounded by lush forests and majestic mountains.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 1 - 2 hours

The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort features a freshwater pool and three mineral pools fed by natural hot springs.

Visitors are welcome to dine at the Springs Restaurant or relax in the pools. Paid reservations are required for the hour-and-a-half soaking sessions and are first-come, first-served.

INSIDER TIP: Make a reservation before you hike, then return for your soak afterward. If so, you'll want to make your reservation for about 1.5-2 hours later to give yourself plenty of time.

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11. Sol Duc Falls

A serene forest waterfall surrounded by lush trees and cascading water.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 45 mins - 1 hour

Sol Duc Falls is one of the most popular and picturesque waterfalls in Olympic National Park!

The moderately easy 1.6-mile trail begins at the end of the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road and winds through a lovely old-growth forest, past creeks, and over wooden bridges.

The highlight of the hike is the breathtaking Sol Duc Falls!

This stunning waterfall features three separate cascades that plunge dramatically over the cliff.

There are viewing platforms across from and above the waterfall offering spectacular photo opportunities.

NOTE: Dogs are not allowed.

12. La Push Second Beach

A serene beach with sandy shores, lush trees, and calm waters gently lapping the shore.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 1 - 2 hours

Second Beach at La Push features tide pools, dramatic sea stacks, and a flat, sandy beach.

The 2-mile round-trip trail to this stunning coastal beach meanders through a lovely forest with plenty of ferns, moss, and nurse logs--fallen and decaying logs that support new life.

The hike is relatively easy on the way down but does require a bit of a climb coming back.

If the main parking lot is full, there is overflow parking in a gravel lot just up the hill.

NOTE: Dogs are not allowed. *This trailhead is on the Quileute Indian Reservation.

13. Rialto Beach / Hole in the Wall

A coastal rock formation with a hole in the middle.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 15 mins - 3 hours

Rialto Beach offers easy access, parking, and vault toilets. With stunning views of James Island, Rialto's rugged shoreline is known for its giant piles of driftwood logs and rough surf.

One of Rialto Beach's highlights is the dramatic rock formation called Hole in the Wall.

Located at the north end of the beach, Hole in the Wall requires a moderate 3.4-mile roundtrip hike along the pebbly shore.

There, you'll find numerous tide pools and stunning sea stacks.

NOTE: Leashed dogs are welcome between the parking lot and Ellen Creek (1/2 mile).

14. Forks

Explore the welcoming city of Forks, surrounded by lush forests and stunning natural beauty.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 5 mins - 1 hour

Welcome to Forks, Washington--the Rainiest Town in the Contiguous United States!

Every year, Forks gets about 10 feet or 120 inches of rain, so its title is well-deserved.

Located on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula, Forks was one of America's last frontiers.

The large prairie was once home to the Quileute people. Settlers began arriving here in the late 1870s.

Eventually, the area became a booming logging town.

Today, Forks is a popular tourist destination for visitors to Olympic National Park and fans of the Twilight book and movie series which was set in this rainy town.

15. Forks Visitor Center

Two vintage trucks parked in front of a quaint store, showcasing their timeless charm.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 5 - 30 mins
  • Entry Fee: The Forks Timber Museum charges a minimal admission fee.

Check out the Forks Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center at the south end of town.

Pick up information about local attractions, hiking trails, restaurants, and the self-guided Twilight driving tour.

The Forks Timber Museum next door showcases the rich history of the timber industry.

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16. Hoh Rain Forest and Hikes

A large tree with a large arch in the middle of the forest, trail.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Hours of Operation: The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is open daily in the summer. Closed January-March. Open Friday-Sunday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in the fall. Hours vary according to season. The trails and campground are open year-round.

From ancient trees draped with moss to thick carpets of fern that blanket the ground, the Hoh Rain Forest is simply magical.

Here in this primeval forest, watch for majestic Roosevelt elk, iconic banana slugs, and the elusive Bigfoot!

The Hoh Visitor Center offers trail information, restrooms, interactive displays, and two easy trails.

The Trail of Mosses features bigleaf maple trees cloaked in layers of soft, thick moss. This relatively easy trail is less than a mile long.

The slightly longer Spruce Nature Trail loops through forests of red alder and cottonwood and passes by the Hoh River.

17. Ruby Beach

Scenic ocean view from forested trail.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 15 mins - 2 hours

Ruby Beach features a spectacular shoreline complete with:

  • dramatic sea stacks,
  • tidepools,
  • piles of driftwood logs,
  • a pretty creek, and
  • a large, pebbly beach.

This popular beach can get pretty busy on weekends and holidays.

A short quarter-mile trail leads from the parking area down to the beach.

At the end of the trail, you'll need to walk through or climb over large driftwood logs to reach the shore.

Ruby Beach was named after the tiny crystals of red garnet that occasionally washed onto the shore and gave the beach a pinkish hue.

NOTE: Leashed dogs are welcome.

18. Big Cedar Tree

A fallen tree rests beside a wooden bench on the ground, creating a serene and rustic scene.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 10 mins

The Big Cedar Tree is a true Olympic giant--or at least it used to be!

Unfortunately, a storm split the trunk of this massive 1000-year-old Western Red Cedar, but the gnarly giant still inspires awe.

The trailhead is just a short drive from the highway, and it's an easy walk to the tree from the parking area.

For those who want to explore more, the trail goes past the giant cedar and offers views of other impressive trees.

19. Kalaloch Beach 4

A serene coastal scene featuring a sizable beach rock surrounded by lush trees in the background.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 30 mins - 2 hours

If you're looking for a less-crowded beach with amazing tidepools and a large sandy shore, then Kalaloch Beach 4 is for you!

There is a short, steep trail down to the beach with interpretive signs and a cool driftwood bridge.

At the end, there is a short rock scramble down a rope--which may be challenging for those with mobility issues.

Less than a mile round trip, the hike takes about 20 minutes to complete.

Beach 4 is popular for birding, hiking, and walking. Harbor seals can often be seen playing in the surf.

NOTE: Leashed dogs are welcome.

20. Tree of Life

A lone tree defying gravity, growing on the side of a cliff, surrounded by other trees in a breathtaking natural setting.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 15 mins

The Kalaloch Tree of Life is another iconic symbol of the Olympic Coast.

Stretched precariously between two cliffs, this unusual Sitka spruce looks like it's floating in thin air. It hovers above the ground.

Over time, water eroded the ground beneath its roots, carving out the cool, cave-like space beneath.

How long the tree will be able to hold on is hard to say.

Weather, erosion, and human carelessness (like climbing or hanging onto the tree's roots) are quickening its demise.

Admire this icon from a distance--and do your part to help keep the Tree of Life alive.

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21. Kalaloch Lodge

Signboard for Kalaloch Lodge in OregonImage by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 15 mins - 1 hour

The Kalaloch Lodge is the only coastal lodging in Olympic National Park.

It's a great place to sit down and enjoy a meal with an ocean view!

You can also grab an ice cream cone from the Kalaloch Mercantile next door.

22. Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail

  • Duration: 15 mins

The Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail is located at the beginning of the Lake Quinault South Shore Road.

The easy half-mile loop includes waterfalls, creeks and the classic moss-covered trees--along with interpretive signs.

It's a great way to experience the rainforest without having to hike very far. There are restrooms at the trailhead.

NOTE: This trail requires a National Park pass or National Forest Day pass.

23. Lake Quinault Lodge

Lake Champlain Lodge in Oregon, a cozy retreat nestled by the water's edge.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 15 mins - 1 hour

The historic Lake Quinault Lodge is beautifully situated on the south shore of Lake Quinault.

Enjoy a meal in the famous Roosevelt Dining Room overlooking the lake.

You can also wander to the back lawn that overlooks the lake and take a stroll along the shore.

The two-story rustic lodge was built in the summer of 1926--in a record 53 days!

Crews lit bonfires and worked around the clock to complete the building before the rains began.

NOTE: There is a free parking area to the right (east) of the lodge near the ranger station.

24. World's Largest Sitka Spruce

A wooden bridge leading to a majestic tree surrounded by lush greenery and other trees.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 15 mins

An easy quarter-mile walk leads to the world's largest Sitka spruce tree.

Measuring over 18 feet in diameter and reaching a height of 191 feet, this impressive giant is one of many champion trees in the lush Quinault Rainforest.

It's also known as the Valley of Rainforest Giants.

25. Merriman Falls

A serene waterfall flowing in a lush forest, encircled by tall trees.Image by Robin Montgomery

  • Duration: 5 mins

Merriman Falls is located right next to the road.

The lovely 40-foot cascades can be seen from the car but make a nice stop if you want to take a photo.

26. Kestner Homestead & Maple Glade Trail

A rustic fence standing alone in the middle of a grassy field.

  • Duration: 10 mins - 1 hour
  • Hours of Operation:
  • The homestead and trails are open daily, year-round, weather and road conditions permitting.
  • The Rain Forest Ranger Station is open seasonally, Thursday-Monday, from late June to mid-September.

The Kestner Homestead sits on the north shore of the Quinault River in the middle of a rugged wilderness.

Built around the turn of the 20th century, this historic site is a testimony to the perseverance and dedication of Anton Kestner–one of the valley’s early pioneers.

The homestead can be accessed in two ways.

You can park at the homestead gate and walk a short distance to the buildings or take the scenic trail from the Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station.

Nearby, the half-mile Maple Glade Rain Forest Trail meanders through the enchanting rainforest for a magical experience.

27. July Creek Picnic Area

  • Duration: 5 mins

The July Creek Picnic area, located on the north shore of Lake Quinault, offers another great view of the lake.

A short path takes you through giant trees to the shore. There are restrooms and picnic tables.

Explore Olympic National Park with Shaka Guide

So, are you ready to explore this Olympic-sized park? Shaka Guide's got you covered!

Whether you prefer the alpine splendor of the mountains, the deep hush of the forest or the endless crashing of the surf, at Olympic National Park, you’ll find recreation for the body and refreshment for the soul.

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Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's Olympic National Park Tour!

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more detailed information to help you plan, check out our Know Before You Go article.

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