Olympic National Park – Port Angeles, Washington

Olympic National Park
Port Angeles, Washington

Hours: The Olympic National Park Visitors Center is open year round. Fall and winter hours are Friday-Tuesday, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. The park is open year round, but some roads and areas are only closed in winter and/or in adverse weather. Call (360) 565-3131 for recorded road information.
Fees: Single Visit Individual Permit: $5, valid for 7 days, for one person entering on foot. Single Visit Vehicle Permit: $10, valid for 7 days, for one vehicle in park.
Location: Port Angeles, Washington
Activities: Auto touring, backpacking, biking, bird watching, boating, camping, climbing, cross country skiing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, mountaineering, show shoeing, whitewater rafting, wildlife viewing
Contact: By Mail: 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798. By Phone:
Visitor Information Recorded Message (360) 565-3130 or (360) 565-3131, Visitor Information (TTY) 1-800-833-6388, By Fax:(360) 565-3015/
Website: www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm
Area and Park Maps are available at www.nps.gov/olym/pphtml/maps.html

With nearly a million acres to its name, and three distinct eco systems within its bounds, the Olympic National Park of Washington is one of the most diverse and stunning forests in North America. From beaches to glaciers to rain forest, the Olympic has it all. 95% of the Olympic has been designated as wilderness, and over 600 miles in trails grant access to the vast scenery. It is also home to the largest undisturbed temperate rain forest left in the Northwest, with rivers still full with spawning salmon, 8,000 foot glacier capped peaks, 60 miles of wild Pacific Coast, (the largest span in the continental US), and has been home to natives for the past 12,000 years.

While you could spend a lifetime exploring the vast acreage of the park, a well-planned day trip can show you a very accessible sample of what the park has to offer. Of course, taking a few days to camp and see the sights is a more relaxed way to explore the features of the park. The main park visitor center and park headquarters are located in Port Angeles, roughly two-and-a-half to three hours from the Seattle/Tacoma area. Park visitors can reach U.S. Highway 101 via ferry, or by driving south around Puget Sound.

Hurricane ridge is often a good starting point for a day trip, highlighting the park’s high country and mountain views. From there, a three hour drive will bring you to the Hoh Rain Forest, probably the most impressive landscape the park has to offer. This temperate rain forest receives over 12 feet of rain each year, creating huge trees and profuse greenery throughout its span. From here, a shorter 30-40 minute drive brings you to Rialto or Ruby Beach, with views of the Pacific coast and the 60 miles of protected wildlife beach.

For those who wish to spend more time in the park, the National Park Service maintains 16 campgrounds and a total of 910 campsites, but visitors should be warned that camping here is geared towards true wilderness lovers, as no park campgrounds have hookups, showers or laundry, and only a few have restrooms and/or access to potable water. Fees for these sites range from $8 to $16 per night, the more remote sites being cheaper, and some of the campgrounds are subject to the park entrance fee. All camp sites within the park are first come, first served, with the exception of Kalaloch, which can be reserved during the summer months. During the summer especially, the park advises that people wishing to camp arrive as early as possible during the week, the latest being early Friday to ensure campsites are still available. Several of the sites are open all year, including Elwha, Heart O’ The Hills, Hoh, Kalaloch, and Mora, with many other sites only closing when winter weather is too harsh. The rest are open only during the spring, summer, and autumn months. More detailed campsite information can be accessed here.