There are beach vacations that involve lounging in the sun while sipping daiquiries, and then there are beach vacations for adventurers and soul searching. If you prefer hiking over sunbathing, exploring over lounging and the smell of saltwater and pine over sunscreen, Olympic National Park is the perfect destination for you.
Olympic National Park is one of the most spectacular locations in the Pacific Northwest. With sandy beaches featuring stunning sea stacks, fascinating tide pools and the most awe-inspiring sunsets around, the 73 miles of coastline is just one of a million reasons to plan an escape to the Olympic Peninsula. Add in the magical rainforest, serene lakes, high alpine mountain areas and enchanting old growth forests and this becomes a dream destination for adventure lovers and nature lovers alike.
Planning Your Home Base
With kitchenettes in each cabin, you’re ready to prep lunch and bring it with you on your day’s adventure. If you want a break from cooking (because cooking and vacation don’t mesh), Creekside Restaurant in the Lodge serves up a full menu of local cuisine and wines made right in the state of Washington.
HOT TIP: The Bluff Cabins sit right on the bluff overlooking the ocean, but there’s not a bad cabin to be had at this location. All cabins have beach access and a view of the water… it’s a win no matter what cabin you choose.
Top Spots and Things To Do
Olympic National Park offers unlimited opportunities to get outside and explore. Whether you’re looking to meander through a misty Hall of Mosses in the Hoh Rain Forest, or search tidepools for sea creatures in every color of the rainbow, there are endless possibilities to fill your time here. Check out some of our favorite things to do in this diverse ecosystem, to take in all that ONP has to offer.
HOT TIP: Head back to the coast for sunset. The sunsets at Olympic National Park beaches are spectacular and there’s a different skyline at every beach. From sea stacks to beach logs, there’s no better way to close out a day of adventure than sitting on the sand, breathing in the salty air and watching the sun descend over the mighty Pacific.
Check Out Cool Ocean Life
While some National Parks feature bison and wolves, Olympic National Park has some very special wildlife to search for. Grab your camera and hit the beach, because we’re going tide pooling! The tide pools near Kalaloch Beach and the surrounding areas are some of the best you’ll find anywhere, offering a crystal-clear look into the lives of sea stars, rock crabs, wolf eels, pricklebacks, brittle stars, barnacles, clams, sea snails, and more. Visiting tide pools can be a great learning experience for kids, a relaxing departure from everyday life, or both.
A few of our favorite spots to tide pool include Beach 4 and Ruby Beach.
SERIOUS TIP: While it’s tempting, never try to pull or pry anything off a rock, and never remove anything from a tide pool (even rocks or sand). Tide pools exist as part of a delicate ecosystem and we all have to work together to keep these natural wonders safe and protected.
Explore the Hoh Rainforest and Hall of Mosses
Have you ever wanted to step foot in an enchanted forest straight out of a storybook? Here’s your chance. Truthfully, there’s not an adjective that truly does this place justice. To tell you it’s magical, phenomenal and unbelievable would be inadequate. Moss and lichen cover the trees. There’s an neverending haze that hangs over the forest. It’s one of the wettest places on earth. It’s teeming with life, and utterly… quiet. And it’s SO worth the visit.
HOT TIP: Keep an eye out for nurse logs, which look like new trees (and their roots) growing on top of fallen trees. Fallen trees begin to decay, and in turn provide seedlings nutrients, water, shade and protection, creating new life out of one that has ended. The Hoh Rain Forest is filled with nurse logs and new growth and is a stunning example of the circle of life inside this incredible forest.
Relax at Pristine Lake Crescent
Surrounded by the Olympic Mountains and carved out by a glacier, this secluded lake offers the respite and recharge you need. Bring a book and relax by the water, have a picnic at Boyee’s Meadow, or row, row, row your boat with a rowboat rental from Lake Crescent Lodge. There’s something wonderful about a relaxing day at the lake, and Lake Crescent is our top choice when relaxation is overdue.
Take a Stroll to the Tree of Life
Take a short walk down Kalaloch Beach to find the famous Tree of Life. It’s not an illusion. This windswept tree is hanging by a thread (or more accurately a few roots) and continues to thrive despite the roots reaching nothing but air. It defies nature and astounds the mind and is so worth the walk down to see it with your own eyes!
Catch an Otherworldly Sunset
There’s something dreamlike about a beautiful sunset. Reds, oranges, pinks and yellows combine to create a sky that makes people stop and take it in, no matter how busy they are. On the Olympic Coast, the sunsets are almost an event, as everyone stops to watch the sun descend into the ocean in a splash of orange and red. The beach and the Pacific Ocean create the perfect backdrop to celebrate the end of a spectacular day. Combine the vision of the setting sun, the sound of the crashing waves, the feel of the sand in your toes and the smell of saltwater and pine trees, and you’ll end the day with an experiences your senses will never forget.
HOT TIP: Kalaloch Beach is pet-friendly (on a six-ft. leash, of course) and one of our favorite places to vacation with our best friend. Splash around in the waves, and then head back to one of the pet-friendly cabins for a pawcation you and your pooch will love.
Take the Trip - You Won't Regret It
Olympic National Park is a wonderland of sandy beaches, lush rain forests, diverse wildlife and so much more. One trip is never enough, but don’t blame us if you visit and then return again and again. We promise, we’ll meet you there!