Olympic National Park One Day

Looking to explore Olympic National Park in one day?  I have got the guide for you!

Olympic National Park spans almost 1,500 miles across Northern Washington in the United States.  Covering three unique ecosystems through mountains, lush forest, and beach, Olympic National Park is beloved for many reasons.

I can’t quite put into words the majestic beauty Olympic exudes.  Maybe it’s the glittering green moss dancing along enormous trees that makes you feel like you have stepped into a fairytale.  Or perhaps it’s the dramatic landscape of snowy mountains at Hurricane Ridge, or blue turquoise glacial water at Punchbowl.  No matter where you are at Olympic, it feels entirely surreal.

Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park Details

Location: Pacific Northwest United States, Northern Washington.  2 hours 5 minute drive from Seattle (Port Angeles Entrance).

When to visit: Summer is the high season at Olympic National Park.  Winter has limited road access due to heavy snowfall at higher elevation parts of the park, but it is still a wonderland for outdoor adventure enthusiasts.  Spring brings lush, vibrant greenery to the park, but heavy rainfall is sporadic and can limit activities.

How many days: An Olympic National Park one day trip is doable if you are on a time limit, but I definitely recommend a return trip for at least three full days when you have extra time.

Getting there: Fly into Washington’s Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Ruby Beach at Olympic National Park

General Information

Check the NPS website prior to leaving to check weather conditions and road closures.  Most roads are open during the park’s summer months from June – September.

There are five visitor centers in Olympic National Park in the towns of Port Angeles and Forks:

Port Angeles

  • Olympic National Park Visitor Center
  • Wilderness Information Center
  • Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

Forks

  • Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center
  • Kalaloch Ranger Station

Best Hiking Trails at Olympic National Park

With three unique ecosystems spanning almost one million acres, Olympic National Park is a hiker’s paradise.  Some of the most highly rated hiking trails at Olympic National park are as follows:

Madison Falls

Madison Falls at Olympic National Park

Length: .2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Madison Falls is a simple 3 minute walk from the parking lot along an easy path towards the waterfalls.  It is a great way to experience more fo the park if you are running tight on time.  This also happens to be one of my favorite waterfalls at Olympic National Park!

Hiking near Madison Falls at Olympic National Park

Devil’s Punchbowl

Devil’s Punchbowl at Olympic National Park

Length: 2.4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Alternative to the very popular Mount Storm King, consider Devil’s Punchbowl for an easy route with absolutely breathtaking views.

Hall of Mosses

Hall of Mosses at Olympic National Park

Length: 2.4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Located in Hoh National Forest, Hall of Mosses is one of the most iconic locations at Olympic National Park.  Moss trees can be enjoyed through various parts of the park, but they feel especially like a fairytale here.  The hike is relatively easy and took less than an hour to complete during a calm morning.

For more difficult highly rated trails, consider Mount Storm King and Lake Angeles trail.

Best Viewpoints at Olympic National Park

Naturally, some of these are going to come from pristine hiking spots, such as Devil’s Punchbowl and Mount Storm King.

Devil’s Punchbowl

Devil’s Punchbowl at Olympic National Park

Glacial turquoise water beneath a red bridge against the mountains- simply iconic.  And breathtakingly unreal.

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge refers to the 13 mile mountainous stretch on the Port Angeles side of Olympic National Park.  It has one of the park’s most incredible viewpoints and is an adventurer’s paradise for hiking, and winter sports like snow-shoeing, skiing, and snowboarding.  It is the most accessible mountain area, and one of the most popular places in Olympic National park.

Other things to do at Olympic National Park

Adventure Activities

Snowshoeing, skiing, cross country skiing, tubing, and snowboarding are all popular winter adventure activities in the Hurricane Ridge area of Olympic National Park.  Rent adventure gear in the town of Port Angeles or take a guided tour.

Biking

Consider a bike rental from Olympic Adventures, Ewha eBike Adventures, or Sound Bikes & Kayaks in Port Angeles.

Things to do near Olympic National Park


Seattle, Washington

If you are extending your Pacific Northwest road trip near Olympic National park, consider exploring Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park, Mount St. Helens National Monument, Crater Lake National Park, Multnomah Falls, or Hood River.

Where to stay in Olympic National Park

If you have longer than one day in Olympic National Park and you are looking for accommodation, I highly recommend dividing your stay between Port Angeles and Forks.

It takes 8 hours to drive the entirety of Olympic National Park, so there is no way you can truly maximize time spending the night only in one place if you want to explore across the park.

There are not many fancy places to stay near Olympic National Park.  Luxury travelers- you might need to compromise on the finest amenities for saving the bill on this one.  Local motels and inns are most common in this area.

Best Places to stay in Port Angeles

  • Olympic Lodge
  • Red Lion Motel
  • Quality Inn Port Angeles

Best Places to stay in Forks

  • Pacific Inn Motel
  • Forks Motel
  • Dew Drop Inn

Olympic National Park Camping

Alternatively, consider camping at Olympic National Park.

National Park Service Campgrounds:

The National park Service operates 13 official campgrounds through Olympic National Park.

Approximately half of them accept reservations for peak summer season, and approximately half are first-come, first-served.

Check the Recreation Website for specifics about seasonal operating, and closures. Dogs are allowed at all NPS campgrounds in the national park.  There is no electrical or water hookup at these campsites.  There are no bathrooms or showers on site.

Reservations

The following campgrounds accept in advance reservations online:

  • Fairholme
  • Kalaloch
  • Mora
  • Hoh Rain Forest
  • Staircase

First-Come First Served

The following campgrounds operate on a first-come first-served basis:

  • Deer Park
  • Dosewallips
  • Graves Creek
  • Heart O’ The Hills
  • North Fork
  • Ozette
  • Queets
  • South Beach

Private campgrounds

  • Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort RV Park & Campground
  • Log Cabin Resort RV & Campground

Olympic National Park One Day Packing List

Here are a couple of can’t-miss items to toss in your suitcase when visiting Olympic National Park:

Trail Shoes– I cannot stress the importance of comfortable shoes with strong traction.  Be good to your feet!

First Aid Kit– Safety first.  Never know when you’ll need a first aid kit!  Always be prepared on the trails.  Band-aids, gauze wrap, motion sickness medication, etc.

Water Bottle– Hydration, hydration, hydration!  I recommend at least a gallon of water per person for a full hiking day.

Hydration Backpack– Consider packing your water into a Hydration Backpack like a Camelback or similar..  I have found this much less strenuous on my back, and there are still enough side pockets to hold your camera, snacks, and a sandwich.

Packable Backpack– Alternative to a Camelback.  Packable backpacks are GREAT because you can roll them up and throw them into a suitcase or carry-on bag, and they take up LITERALLY no room at all.  They provide an ample amount of room for one day of adventures.

For the chilly weather…

Base layers– Wear warm clothing under your jacket and pants.  Alternatively, consider fleece-lined leggings with a water-resistant exterior.

Puffer jacket– I prefer a puffer jacket to a long parka because this is also packable, and easy to roll up into your backpack if you get hot.

Rain shell– Wear this over your puffer jacket to make sure you stay dry if it snows.  The best part is these are lightweight and packable!  Weather fluctuates, but your comfort shouldn’t.

Hiking Boots– Comfortable, waterproof hiking boots make all the difference in snowy weather.  Keep your feet dry!

Olympic National Park One Day Itinerary

You’ve done the reading!  You’ve got the details!  Let’s go to your itinerary- Olympic National Park awaits!

Morning

Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

Start your day driving north from Seattle to the Port Angeles side of Olympic National Park.  Bring a packed sandwich and fruit for a picnic lunch. Stop at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center for a map or to check trail conditions with a park ranger.  Drive to the incredible Hurricane Ridge for hiking or simply views.  Enjoy your lunch at Hurricane Ridge.

Afternoon

Devil’s Punchbowl at Olympic National Park

After eating lunch at the top of beautiful Hurricane Ridge, Drive to Madison Falls.  Complete the short hike from the parking lot to the waterfalls.  Hop in the car and drive to Devil’s Punchbowl for one of my personal favorite views in the park!

Evening

Start of Marymere Falls hike at Olympic National Park

Evening is split into two options, depending on your ending point.

Option A: Spend the night in Forks.

Good news- Devil’s Punchbowl is already halfway to Forks!  Drive to Hall of Mosses for a short, incredible hike (Twilight vibes).  Visit Ruby Beach or one of the La Push beaches for sunset before arriving at your accommodation in Forks.

Option B: Spend the night in Seattle.

Spend an extra 30-60 minutes at Lake Crescent after completing Devil’s Punchbowl hike.  Rent a kayak or simply walk around the lake depending on timing.  Drive to Marymere Falls for a final waterfall hike before driving back to your accommodation in Seattle.

Olympic National Park

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Alyssa

As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).