Olympic National Park Eco Tours Frequenctly Asked Questions - FAQ

A smiling boy places both hands on a large purple common starfish on a rocky shore set against the Salish Sea

Why join an Olympic National Park eco tour?

We have tried to answer some of the most common questions in the hope that you will consider touring Olympic National Park with us to ask us even more questions!

Skip the answers presented on this page and learn more about ExperienceOlympic, your Olympic Peninsula Tour Operator

A tidepool in Olympic National Park is full of purple urchins and also includes two smaller green urchin

Olympic National Park family eco tours

A study has shown that the best way to instill environmental awareness in adults is to encourage opportunities to explore wild places (including hiking) before 11 years of age.

Pacific Northwest tide pool tours appeal to families (recommended for children 6 and up) due to its particularly hands-on nature and exploration of an exciting underwater world during a low tide.  Olympic National Park eco tours have a multi-generational appeal for both "the slightly stiff grandparents and the luckily limber grandchildren".

Older and younger naturalists painting with watercolors

Whether you are interested in tidepooling, hiking, birding or wildlife watching, we work hard to make Olympic National Park eco tours enjoyable for all ages by structuring our day together to fit participant needs.  Children who enjoy naps might prefer tours with a longer drive so they can nap in the car.

Owner and naturalist guide Carolyn Wilcox is a certified Washington State teacher who feels that Olympic National Park wilderness is the best possible outdoor classroom environment - where the lessons are all experiential and impromptu.

Boy picking up river rocks with a restored Olympic National Park river in the background

Three hour trip to Port Angeles from Seattle (ONP is even further)

Some tour operators advertise Olympic National Park tours from Seattle for a day but approximately eight hours of your time will be spent driving/traveling (with ~2 hours of that time waiting and traveling on a ferry) with little time left for hiking.  Additionally, Olympic National Park rainforest animals are generally not active in the middle of the day. 

If you take one of the ferries (Seattle-Bainbridge or Edmonds-Kingston), it is about an 82 mile one-way trip from Seattle to Port Angeles, the gateway city to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.  It is approximately a 20 mile one-way drive to Hurricane Ridge from Port Angeles but this is a slow windy road so drive time is about 45 minutes one-way.

A super cute Douglas Squirrel eating a conifer cone makes for great Olympic National Park wildlife viewing

Olympic National Park is over a million acres, road-less through the center, and circumnavigating it would take an entire day of constant driving.

In order to really experience Olympic National Park tours, consider booking lodging for a minimum of one or two nights and organize transportation to Port Angeles, Washington.  You can easily  spend at least a week on the Olympic Peninsula and it is adviseable to organize your summer lodging early, especially if you plan on staying in one of the Olympic National Park lodges.

Bull Roosevelt Elk peeking out from a large Sitka Spruce Tree in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park tours to the Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest ek and hiking tours can be organized, though it is an 91 mile (one way) trip from Port Angeles, Washington (4 hour roundtrip drive).  Seattle is about 82 miles (one way) from Port Angles for comparison. 

Closer to Port Angeles, Washington, Elwha River hiking and dam removal tours shows you a wilder ecosystem that includes an amazing story from a biologist who intimately knows this special place. The Elwha forest mirrors the Hoh rainforest when considering many natural aspects, including all the same wildlife.

Two hikers and their shadows on Hobuck beach at sunset

However, the Hoh is technically a temperate rainforest because it receives the requisite amount of annual precipitation, unlike lowland forests in the lower portion of the Elwha River.

If you want a private Olympic National Park eco tour, this is an option.

Olympic National Park tours to the Pacific Coast

Olympic National Park Beach Tours can be organized to the closest Pacific Coast beaches (Rialto, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Beach) that are an estimated 70 mile (one-way) trip from Port Angeles, Washington (3 hour roundtrip drive) or to Ruby Beach (approximately the same distance "out-of-the-way" if you are driving to the Hoh Rainforest.  A popular combination is a  West End tour to the Hoh Rainforest and one of the La Push coastal beaches or Ruby Beach.

Herd of twenty-two Roosevelt Elk lounging in sunny subalpine Olympic National Park wilderness above the valley fog

We have structured our Pacific Northwest tide pool tours to explore both a local rocky shore and a beach on the Strait of Juan de Fuca (also called the Salish Sea).  The tidepooling location for our eco tours is listed as a premier spot in the state of Washington though it is not located in Olympic National Park.

Solitude experienced on Olympic National Park eco tours

Elwha River framed by a Western Redcedar tree sets the scene for a great Olympic National Park eco tour

The act of visiting Olympic National Park ensures a certain amount of solitude as Port Angeles, Washington has population of just under 20,000 and it's the largest city on the Olympic Peninsula.

Olympic National Park is in so isolated of a location that Twilight wasn’t even filmed on the Olympic Peninsula despite being set in Forks, Washington.

Our Washington State ecotourism adventures offer a certain amount of solitude due to daily timing, the act of hiking, and local place-based knowledge of different hiking and driving routes.

If you're not much of a hiker and do not want to experience any possible parking-lot crowds, consider visiting Olympic National Park sometime before Memorial Day or after Labor Day for maximum park tranquility.

Profile shot of a Gray Jay sitting on a conifer branch

Special nature of Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is both an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site because of the protected old-growth forest ecosystems harboring great Olympic Peninsula biodiversity.

Birds are an active and abundant facet of Olympic wildlife and are generally viewed on Olympic National Park eco tours, which is why we have organized Olympic Peninsula birding tours.

The flora and scenery of Olympic National Park are stunningly beautiful.

Food on Olympic National Park eco tours

We take food seriously and try to provide local organic food whenever possible.

Your eco tour guide preparing a picnic lunch while a participant looks for wildlife with binoculars

Inclusive Olympic National Park guided ecotours include high quality snacks and a healthy meal (including sandwiches or wraps).

We strive to serve food while out hiking in some of the most scenic locations imaginable so that we can watch for Olympic wildlife while remaining relatively still.  Nature might also provide us with some local organic food as well, especially during the summer.

Parked forest green Chrysler Town and Country LX minivan

Olympic National Park eco tours logistics

Olympic National Park eco tours are scheduled by making a reservation with ExperienceOlympic.  We have been able to arrange eco tours for the following day, so try contacting us

We will meet in Port Angeles, Washington unless other arrangements have been made.  Our actual start time is largely based on your preferences, the time of year, and type of eco tour (for example, eco tours to the tidepools are based on tide schedules).

In general, we advise starting as early as possible.  Dawn is an excellent times for viewing Olympic wildlife as well as finding more solitude on the trail.

A group of bunchberry with the central flowering plant in focus

Olympic National Park eco tours vehicle

Transportation of our participants on Olympic National Park eco tours will be provided by a minivan that seats six passengers.  It is kept in good condition and cleaned regularly between eco tours. 

If you have more than six people interested in Olympic National Park eco tours and already have your own transportation, please consider opting for our Guide Service.

Backpacker surrounded by ferns on a headland trail on the Olympic Coast

Roots of Olympic National Park eco tours

Experience Olympic LLC was created in 2012, with business officially starting in 2013.  Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic guided tours has over 100 excellent tour reviews on TripAdvisor.

Carolyn first started taking family and friends on unofficial tours in 2006, with a coastal backpacking trip designed for her aunt.

Being a teacher, Carolyn considers her guiding roots to have started as a student teacher in Costa Rica in 2003. She fondly remembers guiding students on public transit in San Jose to volunteer at Amigos de las Aves (a rehabilitation center for Scarlett and Hyacinth Macaws).