How to Visit Olympic National Park in One Weekend

Our first National Park in the United States was Olympic National Park, and we were blown away by how much we could see in one weekend. Olympic National Park is known for being a unique park in Washington State featuring coastal rainforests, rugged beaches, and large rock formations! This park truly captures what it means to experience PNW vibes.

What makes Olympic National Park so special is how diverse the landscapes can be. You’ll visit waterfalls tucked away in a mossy rainforest and be watching sunset on the beach by the end of the day! We packed 2-full days of exploring into our weekend in Olympic National Park so I’m here to share our favourite stops to help plan your own epic adventure!

What you need to know before visiting Olympic National Park

Before you visit Olympic National Park, you should know that you’ll need to purchase a USA Park Pass. Know that National Parks in the USA typically do not allow dogs on trails but they are allowed in campgrounds, pavements, ect. We brought our dog and had to avoid some areas that weren’t dog friendly in Olympic National Park

The best time to visit Olympic National Park would be in the Winter or Spring. We believe that Olympic National Park is best explored while the rainforest is fresh with heavy rain creating mossy forests! Visiting in the Summer or Fall would be a lot warmer and busier season as well.

How to get to Olympic National Park

As a couple travelling from Vancouver, we drove 6 hours to Port Angeles to start our adventures in Olympic National Park. You can save a lot of time by opting to take the ferry instead. From Victoria to Port Angeles the ferry will be 20 minutes. If you take a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria it will take 1 hour 35 minutes. This would make your total travel time less than 2 hours via BC Ferries!

Since we strongly recommend starting your Olympic National Park road-trip in Port Angeles, you can also get to Port Angeles from Seattle by taking the Black Ball Ferry in 90 minutes. Alternatively, you can drive from Seattle to Port Angeles in 3 hours. From Port Angeles you will be at the doorstep of Olympic National Park!

Where to stay in Olympic National Park

Our recommended stay in Port Angeles is an AirBnb called Purvision Properties “The Porch”. After driving for most of the day, we really enjoyed staying here because of the private location just outside of Port Angeles. The large, open space with an outdoor hotter was a great bonus.

Our second choice of stay in Olympic National Park was a campground. Our 2nd night we decided to camp right out side of Forks, Washington close to Rialto Beach. The campground was called Mora Campground and since we visited in the off-season we had no problem finding a first-come first-serve site. It was amazing sleeping in the mossy forest with massive trees!

2-day Olympic National Park Itinerary

Day One Itinerary

  • Port Angeles, Washington
  • Lake Crescent
  • Merrymere Falls & Sol Duc Falls
  • Cape Flattery
  • La Push, Washington + La Push Beach, Second Beach

Day Two Itinerary

  • Forks, Washington
  • Rialto Beach + Hole in the wall hikes
  • Ruby Beach
  • HOH Rainforest

Port Angeles, Washington

Port Angeles is basically the front-door to Olympic National Park, and we really enjoyed staying here! The visitor centre to Hurricane Ridge is less than 10 minutes from town and only 30 minutes from our first recommended spot in Olympic National Park. You HAVE to try a burger from local drive-thru favourite, Frugals!

Lake Crescent

Our first stop just outside of Port Angeles was Lake Crescent. It was raining (of course) when we stopped here and the rain with low clouds made for a super vibe-y photo. The lake itself was a beautiful blue colour and we saw some people enjoying a cold-plunge here. In the summer, you’ll find people kayaking and swimming!

Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls trailhead brought us to a beautiful, lush forest where Jake started a quick hike that was almost 3KM to this picturesque waterfall. This was not a dog-friendly trail so I waited in the car while Jake took this photo. It was a popular trail with plenty of steep stairs, but it’s definitely a must-do hike in Olympic National Park.

Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls is another must-do waterfall hike in Olympic National Park. This easy route brings you through the old-growth forest to a waterfall where you can get up-close to falls! We visited in March and unfortunately the gate was still closed for the season but we definitely recommend it.

Cape Flattery

This spot is technically not a part of Olympic National Park, but since it was a dog-friendly hike that was only 1 hour away from Forks, Washington we had to check it out! I recommend visiting this spot because it’s remote drive to the trailhead to Cape Flattery where you’ll hike to the furthest Northwest tip of the contiguous United States.

La Push Beach & Second Beach

La Push Beach was a great stop that we made for lunch before heading out for our sunset hike. La Push Beach actually extends to Second and Third Beach and you’ll find the best views on Second Beach. There is different parking for Second & Third Beach while La Push Beach is next to a parking lot. We did not visit the other beaches as they were not dog-friendly!

Forks, Washington

While we stayed in a campground outside of Forks, we did make sure to drive into the town and check it out on our road-trip! Forks, Washington is known for being a location in the Twilight book/movie series and we loved seeing Twilight-themed signs across town. We ate at Pacific Pizza for dinner (looked super popular) and had Red Bull Soda’s at a coffee-stand before our hikes!

Rialto Beach

For the best sunset views, I recommend spending time at Rialto Beach! This dog-friendly beach features massive rocks jutting out of the water and a long black sand beach, and if you’re up for a hike you can walk all the way to the end of the beach.

Rialto Beach: Hole in the Wall Trail

If you choose to hike Rialto Beach, you will find yourself on the Hole-in-the-wall trail! It took us about an hour to reach the end of the beach and you will need to visit when the tide is LOW to see this incredible natural window. You can also climb above hole-in-the-wall for a unique perspective of Rialto Beach from above!

HOH Rainforest

Day two in Olympic National Park brought us to one of the coolest rainforests you’ll find in the USA. If HOH Rainforest is not on your bucket-list, it definitely should be now! There are multiple trails to bring you through the mossy rainforest, with hikes that can bring you to some impressive old-growth trees. The best trail can be done under an hour and is called the Hall of Mosses.

Ruby Beach

Our final stop in Olympic National Park was at Ruby Beach – another dog-friendly beach known for epic rock structures on the black sand beach. We visited on a cloudy, busy day and still really enjoyed our walk before hitting the road again for our next adventure!

Final Thoughts on Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is a must-see in the USA and our first National Park in America. We loved the mossy rainforests, rugged coastal beaches and unique landscapes of Olympic and definitely recommend a weekend visit. If you have more time, here is a list of additional hikes and places to see in Olympic National Park:

We had an incredible road-trip by spending a weekend in Olympic National Park before continuing down Highway 99 for an 8-day Washington & Oregon Coast Road-trip. Check out our full itinerary for more, and make sure to read about our 15 Best Stops on the Oregon Coast. Make sure to leave-no-trace while visiting and respect National Parks!

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