National Parks North America Travel

Olympic National Park

Our weekend at Olympic National Park was an unforgettable experience with lots of hiking, camping, exploring, and moments of stopping to let wandering deer pass by.

I planned out our trip ahead of time and drew our route on a map which I printed off from the Olympic National Park website.

Visitors Center

Our first stop was the Olympic National Park Visitors Center to grab a large map of the park, get a bear can (a hard plastic can that you put your food in) and buy our wilderness camping permit. We also bought a year long pass for all the National Parks around the country. It’s cost of $80 is totally worth it because every National Park you go to usually has a $20-30+ fee that you must pay to enter. Camping at Olympic is quite easy because there are many park campgrounds along with areas to go wilderness camping (these you need to get a permit for). The many campgrounds are first come first serve except Kalaloch and Sol Duc Campgrounds which you can reserve ahead of time.

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Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge is where we spent the rest of the day hiking a gorgeous trail. It led us along a mountain ridge with a view of the snowy peaks that were piercing through the mystical fog that covered everything around it. We saw many deer and even got to see a marmot. The deer in the park are very friendly and pretty much just hang out and slowly cross the street whenever they want to. The drive up to Hurricane Ridge is breathtaking and there are many turnoffs at which you could stop at and take in the outrageous views of the mountains.

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Crescent Lake

I honestly didn’t even want to leave this place. The water was blue and crystal clear, with tall mountains surrounding the lake and kayaks sitting out on the shore. We spent a few good hours exploring the lodge, swinging in our hammock and walking the beach to take in the gorgeous views of the lake. We are definitely coming back here to stay longer and rent a kayak to explore the lake. The lodge offers kayaks, paddle boards, and canoes for rent. It’s an amazing place to bring a picnic and kayak to the other side of the lake and enjoy a lunch with a view. The lodge has cabins for rent, and a restaurant as well, while camping can be found a few miles down the road.

Sol Duc Hot Springs

There are natural hot springs in the area named the Olympic Hot Springs which you can hike to and soak in but due to road closure we weren’t able to access them. With a change of plans we visited the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort to soak for a couple of hours before heading out to the coast for some camping. We paid $14 each for an adult pass.

There is a Native American story about how the Olympic and Sol Duc Hot Springs formed. According to legend in the area two dragons lived in their respective valleys neither knowing of the existence of the other. One day while exploring over the mountain ridge which divided them they both saw each other  and flew into a rage feeling that the other had violated their boundary. They battled ferociously neither giving way to the other until all their strength deserted them with no clear winner. Both feeling ashamed at their inability to win, they crawled back to their caves, and to this day their hot tears flow down their valleys.

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Shi Shi Beach

If you ever wanted to go camping on the beach, collect driftwood to build a fire out of it, and go to sleep to the sounds of crashing waves, this is the place to go to. This beach is a bit aways from everything else and you have to pass through an Indian Reservation to get there, but it’s totally worth it. We parked a half mile away from the trailhead at the designated parking spot and packed our tent, sleeping bags, stove, and food into our backpacks. The trail (2 miles) took us through the forest and many muddy patches of trail.We got there right at sunset and had just enough time to set up our tent, eat and start a campfire. We enjoyed the waves, the fresh smell of the ocean and the crackling of our fire.

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Ruby Beach

Driving past Forks, WA (a little town that is famous for Twilight) we reached Ruby Beach. With its views of the ocean, the driftwood that has been collecting on the shore and the rock structures that tower out of the ocean this beach wowed us. It’s definitely a picturesque beach. We enjoyed a picnic out on the shore and a little stroll along the beach before we had to get back to the car and head home.

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Hoh Rainforest

We didn’t have enough time to check it out, but I heard many great things about it and we definitely plan to come back for a visit. If you want to enjoy a hike through a rainforest in North America this is the place to do it at. Although there are many hiking trails all throughout Olympic National Park, this is a unique location to stop by, visit the visitors center, hike a trail and head to one of the many beaches nearby.

After a long, adventurous weekend we headed home. We basically drove around the entire park to get a feel for it and are planning to come back to revisit some of the places we really enjoyed and explore new ones as well. It’s an amazing park that has a little bit of everything, forests, mountains, lakes, and the ocean.

Hope you can go soon,

Katie

 

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