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Olympic National Park

Washington State

Olympic National Park Overview & Introduction

Olympic National Park protects the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt elk in the world. Olympic was almost named "Elk National Park" and was established in part to protect these stately animals.

Here you will find Pacific Ocean beaches, rain forest valleys, glacier-capped peaks and a stunning variety of plants and animals. Roads provide access to the outer edges of the park, but the heart of Olympic is wilderness; a primeval sanctuary for humans and wild creatures alike.


Olympic National Park is located west of the Seattle area on the Olympic Peninsula. All park destinations can be reached by U.S. Highway 101, which circumnavigates the Olympic National Park. More information (Map, Visitor Center, Directions, General info, Park Website, etc.) can be found here: Data & Facts, Visitor Info

Nature Experience pure! Sommer and Winter.

If you have only a few hours of time...

If you only have a few hours, stop first at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles. Exhibits, an orientation film and friendly staff will help you make the most of your time at Olympic.
After your visitor center stop, you might consider one of these options.

  • A 45-minute drive from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge brings you from the lowlands blanketed with old growth forests to treeline, where clumps of subalpine firs give way to open meadows. On a clear day, views of the Olympic Mountains and Strait of Juan de Fuca are spectacular.
  • From Port Angeles, drive about 30 minutes west to Lake Crescent where you can stroll along the shores of the 12-mile long glacially-carved lake.
  • From Forks, a twenty-minute drive will bring you to Rialto Beach, where you can walk along a cobbly beach, watch waves crash onto offshore islands and perhaps spot a bald eagle soaring overhead.

If you have 1 day of time

With one long day, you'll have time for a quick visit to each of Olympic's major ecosystems, the mountains, the forest and the coast.

  • You can reach nearly a mile in elevation with a trip to Hurricane Ridge, where you'll find a visitor center and nature trails. Beginning early in the morning will increase your chances of seeing wildlife and help avoid the larger number of visitors later in the day.
  • From Hurricane Ridge, a three-hour drive to the west will bring you to the Hoh Rain Forest. A visitor center, picnic area and short nature trails can enhance your rain forest visit.
  • After leaving the Hoh, an hour and a half drive toward the northwest will bring you to Rialto Beach on the Pacific Ocean in time for sunset.

Grocery stores, restaurants and other amenities are available in the towns of Port Angeles, Forks and at other locations along Highway 101 and the park access roads.

If you have 2 days of time at your hand

With more time, you can explore more of Olympic's diversity. Perhaps you'd like to spend a few hours or longer hiking one of the park's trails, or visiting a lesser-known area like Deer Park or the Quinault Valley.

Learn more about the Olympic National Park on the following pages.

The Park consists of 3 different eco systems: Rain forest, Mountain region, and (60 miles / 96 km) Pacific Coast

Mountain Region, Olympic National Park



Document Information
Source: National Park Service; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20070216
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