Tips for Planning the Best Olympic National Park Vacations on the Olympic Peninsula

A fast-moving Elwha River tributary in Olympic National Park is pictured with bright green mossy banks

Experience dramatic Pacific Northwest wilderness and strong indigenous cultural heritage when you plan the best vacations to Olympic National Park! 

Olympic National Park protects ninety five percent of Olympic National Park as Wilderness, which includes old-growth coniferous forest, wild rivers, alpine peaks, subalpine meadows, dwindling glaciers, and a rocky shoreline dotted with beaches.  Olympic National Park was almost named Elk Park as one of its primary functions in establishment (1938) was to protect Roosevelt Elk and their habitat.  Historically, abundant natural resources such as shellfish, marine mammals, salmon, and cedar resulted in the Pacific Northwest being inhabited for thousands of years.  You will not want to miss visiting, learning about, and supporting these first nations in Sequim - Northwest Native Expressions Art Gallery, Port Angeles - Elwha River Casino, La Push - Quileute Oceanside Resort, and Neah Bay - Makah Museum.

Olympic National Park Tours with ExperienceOlylmpic, Port Angeles WA 98362.

Close-up of an Olympic Marmot with patches of gold on its coat lounging on a rock as seen on an Olympic National Park vacation

Timing the Best Olympic National Park Vacations - are you interested in snowshoeing in the Olympic Mountains or tidepooling on the coastal beaches?

According to Shultz (1990), the marine climate that impacts the weather for Olympic National Park vacations creates mild temperatures: warm winters and dry summers.  When you are planning the best time of year to visit Olympic National Park, it helps to have a better understanding of what each season has to offer.  Whether you plan your trip during the winter, spring, summer, or autumn, giant evergreen conifer trees, mountain vistas, and a wild shoreline set the stage for memorable Olympic National Park vacation at any time of year.

Fog covering the Hoh River valley floor with a clear view of the Olympic Mountains in the distance

Day Hikes and Backpacking on the Best Olympic National Park Vacations - what hiking gear should I bring?

Check out our comprehensive packing list for hiking in Olympic National Park to assist you in planning the best Olympic National Park vacations.  This list is useful for day trips or overnights to rocky shores, beaches, lowland forests, montane forests, or subalpine ecosystems.  In particular, we discuss appropriate clothing material (not cotton) and clothing layer considerations for the wet Olympic National Park Rainforest.  Shoulld you bring raingear during your Olympic National Park vacation during our typically drier summer weather?  Yes, try to pack raingear - rainjacket, rainpants, water-resistant hiking boots, and pack cover and be thankful if you do not need it.

Leave No Trace on the Best Olympic National Park Vacations - how can I make sure my children's children enjoy this beautiful place?

National Parks in the United States offer some of the last great tracts of wilderness and solitude making them popular vacation destinations.  The National Park Service has been tasked with preservation of our natural and cultural resources including the amazing biodiversity that you will discover on your Olympic National Park vacation.  Read more about how you can protect an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site and plan the best vacation to Olympic National Park by leaving no trace of your visit.

Sign in a subalpine meadow in Washington State reads "Please Stay Off Meadows"

Safety on the Best Olympic National Park Vacations - do I need to carry bear spray?

Backcountry hikes can always be rendered safer, through good planning, awareness, and place-based education.  Are there Grizzly Bears in Olympic National Park?  How would the presence of Grizzly Bears change your planning for safe day hikes on the Olympic Peninsula?  Since Olympic National Park only has Black Bears, carrying bear spray is not advised.  Instead of bear spray, make sure that you never leave food unattended and if you are backpacking, you want to use a bear can.  Remember, a fed bear is a dead bear!  The safety information presented to help you in planning the best Olympic National Park vacations was written by Olympic National Park hiking guide Carolyn Wilcox.

Seven Clallam Transit passengers waiting on the side of the road to take a trip through Olympic National Park

Public Transit Options for the Best Olympic National Park Vacations - are there things to do without a car?

Port Angeles, Washington, is your gateway to Hurricane Ridge, a not-to-miss destination on your Olympic National Park vacation.  Check out our detailed instructions and links to various transit options between Seattle and Port Angeles, specifically between the Seattle Tacoma Airport (Sea-Tac) and Port Angeles and beyond for your next Olympic National Park vacation.  If you choose to get to Port Angeles without a car, we have designed an entire list of Port Angeles things to do to help you in planning your Olympic National Park vacation.  If you can walk or ride a bike, then you can consider planning your Olympic National Park vacation using various forms of transit.

Northwest Climate Citation

Schultz, Steward T. (1990).  The Northwest Coast A Natural History.  Portland: Timber Press.

Three adult breeding Pigeon Guillemot on the Olympic Peninsula