The Olympic National Park stands out from all I have visited, because of the diversity. The Yellowstone is – compared to this one – pretty boring in terms of difference. Same goes for Grand Canyon, Badlands, Redwoods and the Great Smoky Mountains. They have certain characteristics that draw you into the national park. The Olympic, however, doesn’t have one major feature like a red deep canyon or geysers. In fact, this one gives you the opportunity to explore natural diversity.
The diversity also comes with the division of the Olympic National Park and Wilderness. If you take a look at the map of the national park, you will notice that you have a huge highlighted area in the mountain area and some smaller parts at the coastal area, which is disconnected by land. This makes this park unique and diverse at the same time.
Make Olympic National Park part of your West Coast Road Trip – Check out this perfect itinerary here!
Highest peaks in Washington
The main part and biggest part of the Olympic National Park is the mountain region. It holds the highest peak of Washington – the Mount Olympus with 7980ft (2432m). The neighboring peaks are just slightly smaller. Hint: Hiking lovers will find a lot of trails in these mountains. The website of the Olympic National Park listed all of them and will help you in choosing – Read more.
We have been at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to have a look at this marvelous scenery. The cool, fresh air on top of the mountain got accompanied by the amazing view of the mountain range – showcasing the Mount Olympus. Even in the middle of the summer season, you can still see the glaciers on the mountain tops.
At night time we went to the same visitor center to see the meteor shower, which was dated around these days. Many people came up here at night to see the shooting stars. For me, it was the perfect occasion to bring my skills for night sky photography to the next level. It was one of the clearest night skies I’ve seen.
It was one of the clearest nights, I’ve ever experienced.
Valleys and waterfalls
On the other hand, you can explore the valleys and waterfalls. We hiked to the Marymere Falls and Madison Falls – both very easy and short hikes. They are located in the North or valley side of the Olympic National Park. You mostly will encounter the old trees that are covered in thick green moss.
Lakes and the coastal parts
There is one big major lake. The Lake Crescent is pretty large and has crystal-clear water. It’s perfect for boating, kayaking, and fishing. You will enjoy the peace, which the lake radiates.
The separated parts on the coast are still part of the Olympic National Park & Wilderness. Pictures of the mysterious, dusty coast with massive, rugged rocks made it around the world. When it’s low tide you can explore all the tidepools along the coast close to Kalaloch.
Further North is the Ozette Lake, from which you can hike to the coast. It’s supposed to offer spectacular views, even better than in the South. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hike the trail, because of a lack of time…
As you can see the North-West of Washington is a breathtaking place, where you can explore diverse landscapes in a “small space”. In my point of view, this is a paradise for nature lovers – and it’s so close to one of the largest cities in the U.S.!
Quick Info & Links
Where: North-West of Washington
Entrance: per car (valid for 7 days), Motorcycles
Olympic National Park – official website
Camping in the Park
Costs for camping: $15-23
Lodging in the national park
Find hotels around Olympic National Park here