The Insider's Guide to Navigating Olympic National Park

Now I see the secret of making the best person. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the Earth.
— Walt Whitman

Are you visiting for a day? A week? Maybe you’re planning a visit just to stroll beneath the massive trees in the Hoh Rain Forest or to peer into shallow tide pools along the coast. If it’s mountains you’re seeking, there are miles of rugged peaks and subalpine meadows to explore by foot or by car. Coast, forest and mountain ecosystems interlace to create Olympic National Park, internationally recognized as a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.

So, if you’re jonesing to visit this remarkable National Park, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when planning your trip.  

what should i pack?

Rain jacket/ winter jacket
Bathing suit (if summer)
Hiking shoes
Water/ food
Camping items
Water shoes (we like Keens)
Long pants, even in summer
You may also want to consider bringing hats and gloves if you’re visiting in late spring/ early summer

by the numbers


visitors to olympic national park
in 2015


95 percent of which is Congressionally-designated wilderness


developed campgrounds


miles of hike-able trails


There are no roads through the park, so plan accordingly.

You drive through wilderness areas and national forest to reach various areas of the park.

Based on the size of our EarthRoamer (28 feet), we were able to comfortably visit the Kalaloch area, Queets Valley, Ruby Beach and Lake Crescent. Many of the roads are paved and accommodate reasonably sized RVs.


Many of the campgrounds we saw in the western half of the park do accommodate RVs over 25 feet.

We stayed at Fairholme campground and South Beach, but if you’re looking for a little more privacy as well as some peace and quiet, head to Queets. There’s no potable water or dump stations there (if you’re RVing), but the views and the solitude are clutch.


In the southwest corner of the Park, Kalaloch Lodge has a great Mercantile as well as a full-service restaurant. Dinners there can cost upwards of $30 a plate, but there are also some cheaper options. As much as possible is locally sourced (particularly the seafood) and the service is top-notch. After dinner, stop by the Mercantile next-door for a $1.66 waffle cone with soft serve.

Some nearby towns with decent restaurants include: Forks, Aberdeen, Port Angeles and Sequim.

If you’re really desperate, there’s a Trading Post near Queets, but don’t be fooled; it’s actually a Shell gas station selling the usual suspects. A plus? They have showers.


Best Hike: Storm King Trail

Best Views: Hurricane Ridge

Best Tidal Pools: Beach 4

Best Beach Views: Ruby Beach or Shi Shi Beach