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Olympic National Park is on the Olympic Peninsula, surrounded the Puget Sound on three sides, and just a few hours’ drive from Seattle. This lush rainforest is a sparsely inhabited reserve of rivers, waterfalls, mountains, beaches and wildlife. It takes its name from the glacial peaks of the Olympic Mountains. Just one main road, Highway 101, encircles the peninsula, linking the small cities of Port Angeles and Port Townsend with Olympia, Washington State's capital city.
The only way to explore the interior of the park is via the 500-mile (800-kilometer) network of hiking trails. There are plenty of hikes for all levels of walking enthusiasts, including easy strolls for those visiting just a short time. Be careful if you’re visiting in winter, when steep and slippery trails can present challenges during hikes of all levels.
Awe-inspiring Mount Olympus rises 7,965 feet (2,428 meters) in the center of the park. Only trained climbers should attempt to reach the summit, but there are plenty of easier trails. Follow the Hoh River Trail for great views of the mountain. Venture into the dense, jungle-like Hoh Rain Forest, where some of the trees are up to 500 years old.
Try alpine and Nordic skiing at Hurricane Ridge, where there are two rope tows and a lift as well as a lodge for warming up. In summer, this area offers stunning views from the 1.6-mile (2.2-kilometer) long paved trail where patches of snow may linger well into July.
For a hike with an ocean view, head to the southwest coast. Ruby Beach has some of the most stunning and accessible coastline in the area, including tide pools rich with urchins, starfish and gooey ducks.
Immerse yourself in Olympic National Park’s natural charms and stay at one of the campgrounds, or seek out simple lodgings in one of the small communities such as Forks or Quinault. If you’re looking for luxurious digs, this isn’t the right place. The pampering is strictly for the senses, found in the breath-taking natural surroundings.
Lake Quinault is another popular area on the peninsula. There’s a rustic lodge, the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, and helpful visitor centers at the Hoh Rainforest and Hurricane Ridge. Port Angeles, just north of the Olympic National Park, is a nice stop between the peninsula and Seattle.
A fun way to extend your visit to Olympic National Park is to take the ferry from Port Angeles across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria on Vancouver Island, but don't forget your passport or another form of I.D.
The Olympic National Park is two to three hours by car from Seattle, depending on traffic and the wait at the ferry. During the summer, allow for a few hours’ wait at the ferry terminal.
Situated in Port Angeles, this motel is 0.7 mi (1.2 km) from Peninsula Golf Club and within 3 miles (5 km) of Port Angeles Dream Playground and Museum at the Carnegie. Feiro Marine Life Center and Olympic National Park Visitor Center are also within 3 miles (5 km).
Located in Port Angeles, this beachfront hotel is in the city centre and within 3 mi (5 km) of Port of Port Angeles, Peninsula Golf Club and Olympic National Park Visitor Center. Madison Creek Falls is 10.9 mi (17.5 km) away.
Situated in Sequim, this hotel is within 9 miles (15 km) of Jardin du Soleil, Olympic Game Farm and New Dungeness Lighthouse. Sequim Bay State Park and Dungeness Spit are also within 9 miles (15 km).
Offering direct access to the beach, this Forks lodge is in a national park, 0.1 mi (0.2 km) from Kalaloch Public Beach, and within 32 mi (52 km) of Clearwater State Park and Bogachiel State Park. Lake Quinault and Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail are also within 32 miles (52 km).
Situated in Port Angeles, this hotel is within 2 miles (3 km) of Peninsula Golf Club, Port of Port Angeles and Olympic National Park Visitor Center. Dungeness Spit and Olympic Game Farm are also within 20 miles (32 km).
Situated on a lake, this campsite is within 1 mile (2 km) of Lake Quinault and Lake Quinault Museum. Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail is 1.9 mi (3 km) away.
Situated in Forks, this motel is 1 mi (1.5 km) from Forks Timber Museum, and within 32 mi (52 km) of Rialto Beach and Kalaloch Public Beach.
Situated on the waterfront, this hotel is 0.2 mi (0.4 km) from Port of Port Angeles and within 3 miles (5 km) of Olympic National Park Visitor Center and Peninsula Golf Club. Madison Creek Falls is 10.7 mi (17.1 km) away.