2 Day Olympic National Park Itinerary (Fun & Efficient!)


Looking for the perfect 2 day Olympic National Park itinerary?

I live twenty minutes from the Olympic Peninsula and explore the park year-round on weekends, so I know how to pack a ton of adventure into two days.

I’ve crafted a fun and efficient two-day itinerary, which means less time in the car and more time soaking in high mountain vistas, lush rainforests, expansive coastlines, and tide-pooling!

I also share my top travel tips, the best places I’ve stayed, and how I pack for the park’s often unpredictable weather conditions, all from my numerous trips to this extraordinary place.

And, if you’ve got logistical questions, I’ve got helpful answers in the FAQs section. 

Let’s go! 

This 2 day Olympic National Park itinerary includes a stop at Lake Crescent, where two women on a dock gaze at the water, surrounded by mountains under a clear blue sky.
Lake Crescent in October

Quick Guide: 2 Day Itinerary Olympic National Park 

  • Seattle to Bainbridge Island Ferry or drive through Tacoma
  • Drive from Kitsap Peninsula to Olympic Peninsula
  • Arrive in Port Angeles night before Day 1
  • Day 1: Hurricane Ridge (choose your hike), Elwha River Observation Area, Granny’s Cafe, Lake Crescent Welcome Sign, Marymere Falls, Lake Crescent (options), Drive to Forks, Forks Hotel Check-In, Rialto Beach Sunset
  • Day 2: Hoh Rainforest (choose your hike), Ruby Beach, Tide-pooling at Kalaloch Beach 4, Tree of Life, Kalaloch (options)
  • Stay in Forks or head back to Seattle

You can do this itinerary year-round, but only Friday through Sunday during the winter.


Arrive in Port Angeles – Night Before Day 1

Accommodations in Port Angeles are plentiful.

Facade of Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles with red signage, surrounded by lush greenery on an overcast day
Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles is the best hotel on the Olympic Peninsula. It has a comfy, high-end cabin feel and excellent customer service.

I live only an hour and fifteen minutes from Port Angeles and still choose to stay here the night before Hurricane Ridge adventures. I avoid waking up at 5 am, quickly getting ready, and then driving for two hours.

Where to Eat

If you have time for a sit-down dinner, head to Next Door Gastropub. 

My elk burger took forty minutes to arrive, but it was Saturday night, and the food was worth the wait.

Joshua’s Restaurant is next to the Olympic Lodge and Super 8 by Wyndham. You’ll get 10% off your meal there if you stay at Super 8.

TIP: Country Aire Natural Foods is down the block from the Next Door Gastropub. It’s a fantastic place to stock up on sandwiches and snacks for day one’s adventures.


EXTEND YOUR TRIP: Arrive in Port Angeles in the afternoon and head to Salt Creek Recreation Area. Crescent Beach at Salt Creek is one of the best beaches on the peninsula.


Practical Tips:

  • Lay out your clothes for the next day.
  • Fill up your hydration bladder for your backpack or filtered water bottles.
  • Pack plenty of sweet and salty snacks for hiking.
  • Prepare your luggage so you’re ready to get out the door quickly.
  • Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes, even on beach adventures.

Day 1 

Hurricane Ridge 

One Sunday in August, I arrived at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center before 8:30 am and watched as cars trickled in quickly after me.

During peak season, the line to the parking lot gets backed up if you arrive after 9 am, so leave your hotel by 7:45 am. 

The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center burned down in May 2023. At the time of writing this, in early 2024, no amenities except for toilets and trash bins are available.

Visitors walk in a parking lot with snow-capped mountains in the distance under a blue sky.
The parking lot on a Sunday morning in January. Non-hikers will see amazing views from here.

Why Visit

Hurricane Ridge’s magnificent panoramic views of the Olympic Mountain Range are its major attraction.

From here, you’ll see snow-capped peaks (depending on the time of year), deep valleys, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Canada, Mount Baker across the Puget Sound, and much more.

Take your pick of trails that start from the parking lot.

Winter Info:

  • Hurricane Ridge is open year-round and an excellent winter destination for snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.
  •  In winter, Hurricane Ridge Road is open from Fridays to Sundays. The park requires you to bring tire chains on winter visits.
Breathtaking view of snow-capped Olympic Mountains above clouds under a blue sky
View of the Olympic Mountains from the Hurricane Hill Trail

One of my favorite memories here was seeing the clouds floating through the valley on a blue-sky January day.

The striking contrast of the white clouds against the rugged Olympic Mountains rising above them was incredible. 

Hiking trails include:

  • Cirque Rim (Easy)***ADA accessible
  • Big Meadow (Easy)***ADA accessible
  • High Ridge (Easy – Moderate)
  • Klahane Ridge (Moderate)
  • Hurricane Hill (Moderate)***ADA accessible
  • Wolf Creek (Hard) – not recommended for this itinerary
  • Little River (Hard) – not recommended for this itinerary
  • Hurricane Hill / Elwha (Hard) – not recommended for this itinerary

Klahane Ridge Trail

  • Hike length: 5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,500 feet

In the summer, my go-to is the Klahane Ridge Trail because it tends to be less busy than the popular Hurricane Hill Trail, which is paved.

This 2 day Olympic National Park itinerary includes panoramic views of lush green valleys and mountains under blue skies at Hurricane Ridge.
Klahane Ridge Trail view

In addition to the spectacular Olympics, you’ll see the San Juan Islands, the Dungeness Spit, and the Cascade Mountains.

There is no tree cover for most of the trail, so wear a hat and bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Elwha River Observation Area

The Elwha River Observation Area is a quick and accessible stop off the 101. 

The once-dammed river now flows freely thanks to one of the largest dam removal projects in US history, completed in 2014.

A serene moment on the Elwha River with a person fishing, surrounded by the reflective waters and the gentle hues of autumn.
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s first fishery on the undammed Elwha River in over 100 years. Photo credit Seattle Times (2023)

Restoration Project

While the scenery is breathtaking, this stop allows you to witness environmental restoration at work. 

The increase in salmon since the dam removal is a testament to nature’s resilience. 

The importance of salmon to our region’s ecosystem cannot be overstated! More than twenty wildlife species feed on its nutrient-filled carcasses.

Granny’s Cafe

After the morning’s adventures, it’s time to eat.

Granny’s Cafe is off the 101 as you drive to Lake Crescent. 

It’s an institution beloved by locals and tourists for many reasons.

The food is hearty, and the place has a charming, cozy vibe, with chickens grazing outside. I’ve even seen an emu here in years past!

A charming, ivy-covered Granny's Café set against a forested hill.
Photo credit Granny’s Cafe

Items from their American comfort food menu include:

  • Locally sourced beef burgers – Chickpea burgers are available for vegetarians.
  • Sandwiches – I’ve had one of the best tuna melts here!
  • Dessert – Many rave about their pies, but I love their soft-serve ice cream and blackberry milkshakes.

Lake Crescent Welcome Sign

The 101 tightly hugs Lake Crescent, so you get great lake views as you drive on this section of highway filled with curves and bends. 

I’ve driven past this lake dozens and dozens of times, but my heart still flips when I see its aquamarine water and the mountains that frame it. 

Clear blue skies over Lake Crescent's welcoming sign
Lake Crescent Welcome Sign

Lake Crescent Viewpoint

This itinerary includes time spent along the lake’s shores later in the day. For now, you’ll simply take photos from this viewpoint.

Unfortunately, the sign is damaged but still makes for a great shot. 

Take a moment to enjoy this tranquil scene and learn about its geological history from the signage.

Parking

Pull off the road at a large pull-out parking area by the Lake Crescent Welcome Sign. 

People come and go pretty quickly. 

Marymere Falls

  • Getting There: Google Maps link
  • Drive Time: 4 minutes
  • Hike length: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 350 feet

The hike to Marymere Falls is easy and delightful. Its short mileage and accessibility shouldn’t turn off experienced hikers because the trail is gorgeous. 

A magnificent maple tree draped in emerald moss, and sun filtering through its branches.
Old-growth Bigleaf maple tree

You start the hike walking past the Storm King Ranger Station and through a short tunnel below the 101. Before entering the tunnel, I like to soak in lake views by the shoreline. 

Exiting the tunnel, you’ll encounter a spectacular old-growth maple tree next to the road. I was here in late October, and its leaves had already dropped, allowing me to see its remarkable branch structure.

Hiking Marymere Falls Highlights

The trail takes you through old-growth forests and alongside Barnes Creek. It’s well-maintained and suitable for most fitness levels. 

This 2 day Olympic National Park itinerary includes people hiking through tall evergreen trees on a trail to Marymere Falls.
Marymere Falls Trail forest

The moss hanging from the trees is exquisite. The way it sways and catches the sunlight is one of Olympic National Park’s greatest treasures.

One afternoon in October, I enjoyed a moment of serenity on the trail, marveling at the ethereal quality of the moss swaying in the fall breeze.

Draping moss covering tree branches in a lush forest.
Draping moss on Marymere Falls Trail

You’ll encounter narrow wood bridges to cross and climb steps as you approach the falls.

The Waterfall Experience

At the fork in the trail, stay left for the lower viewpoint or go right up a steep incline for the upper viewpoint. Each offers a unique perspective of the falls.

The falls drop roughly 90 feet and are beautiful. 

But the forest is the real star of this hike. 

Visitors admiring Marymere Falls on the Olympic Peninsula amidst lush greenery.
Marymere Falls

Lake Crescent 

You’ve got options at this stop near Lake Crescent Lodge. 

I found a parking spot on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the fall, which was a busy and active day at trailheads.  

Option 1 – Lake Crescent Lodge

One option is to walk the grounds around Lake Crescent Lodge, pop inside for a beverage, shop the gift shop, and enjoy its vintage appeal.

The lodge is an excellent place to walk the lake’s shoreline and enjoy lake views. Many walk the dock to take photos at the end of the dock with the lake as a backdrop.

Afternoon light filters through trees onto Lake Crescent with a dock in view.
The lodge’s shoreline

Option 2 – Moments in Time Trail

  • Hike length: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 15 feet

If your knees are beginning to squeak from all the day’s hiking, don’t worry. Option two is more of a stroll than a hike. 

One of the most remarkable aspects of this trail is how it captures the essence of the park’s ecosystem in such a short distance. You’ll feel like you’re in a rainforest on stunning Lake Crescent’s shores. 

You’ll see moss-draped Douglas fir trees, old-growth maples, and ferns covering the forest floor. 

You’ll also encounter logs of fallen trees known as “nurse logs,” which provide water and nutrients to new vegetation. 

The interplay of light and shadow on the verdant moss and ferns on a decaying tree on the forest floor.
Nurse logs are decaying trees on which moss and seedlings thrive.

Drive to Forks – Hotel Check In

This drive is one of the nicest on the 101 loop. You’ll pass evergreen forests and the winding Sol Duc River.

TIP: I lose my AT&T cell coverage on this stretch of the drive, so make sure you have Google Maps loaded when you leave the lodge. 

Don’t worry if you lose coverage. Pay attention to roadside signs, and you’ll see that it’s a straightforward drive on the 101 to get to Forks. 

Cabin and gravel landscape with decorative rocks and flower pots
Woodlands Inns in Forks. Cabins here are new, clean, comfortable, and come with a fully equipped kitchen and seating area.

Forks Accommodations

In Forks, I stayed one night at the Dew Drop Inn and was pleasantly surprised by my room’s size and cleanliness. Note that no elevator is available to get to the second floor. 

If I were to stay in Forks for multiple days, I’d choose a cabin at Woodland Inns instead or the Executive Suite with Full Kitchen at the Pacific Inn Motel.

Grocery Store

Pick up lunch and snacks for day two at Forks Outfitters Thriftway. 

I shopped here after hiking to Hole in the Wall, and they had everything I needed to prepare dinner and breakfast in my motel room.

Rialto Beach Sunset

After checking into your accommodations, take a moment to get settled. 

If you still have energy, it’s time for a sunset beach walk along the Pacific Coast.

Rialto Beach offers a quintessential Washington State beach experience.

This 2 day Olympic National Park itinerary includes a stop at Rialto Beach, where visitors and a dog walk on sand and pebbles on a sunny day.
Rialto Beach is pebbly, so wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes.

Accessibility & Parking

This beach is perfect for groups with children and seniors who want to explore the park’s coastal environment because it’s accessible from the parking lot.

Note that there are two parking lots. The gravel lot on the left is Quileute tribal land, and the parking lot I use when the main lot is full.

James Island

From the beach, you’ll see James Island, little James Island, and other sea stacks to your left in the direction of La Push beaches. 

James Island is culturally and historically significant to the Quileute Tribe.  

woman walking her dog on the southern end of Rialto Beach with James Island in the background
James Island and Little James Island in the distance

Hole in the Wall Hike

Walk north about 1.5 miles towards Hole in the Wall about an hour before low tide to best experience its wild and natural beauty.

On this incredible beach hike, I observed a bald eagle surveying the ocean atop a snag. 

I marveled at striking Split Rock near Hole in the Wall. 

I climbed on top of the massive rock that features the natural arch that is Hole in the Wall to take in the best views of Rialto Beach. 

jagged rocks and sea stack ocean landscape at Hole in the Wall Washington
Split Rock on the left, Hole in the Wall on the right

Sunset at Rialto Beach

But even if you don’t have time for a beach hike, this is still a fantastic place to end day one. 

Sit on driftwood, watch, and listen to the waves of the mighty Pacific Ocean roll in and out. Savor the moment as the sun dips below the ocean’s horizon.

Day 2 

I recommend leaving your accommodations by 7:10 am. 

One July, my husband and I stayed at the Hoh Valley Cabins, located off the same road that leads to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. 

The road didn’t seem too busy, but I wanted to get there by 8:15 am. 

I was glad we skipped breakfast at the cabins and ate it in the parking lot instead because the lot filled up soon after we ate.

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center sign amid lush greenery with a visitor looking at the trees nearby.
Arrive by 8:15 am to ensure you get a parking spot.

Hoh Rainforest

If you visit before summer drought has dried the Hoh Rain Forest, you’ll get the best experience of its enchantingly green and lush landscape. 

With that said, the Hoh is magical any time of year. Coming here is like stepping into an ancient, untouched world.

This temperate rainforest is one of the country’s largest and outstanding.


Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center Info:

  • Open daily in the summer
  • Closed January – early March
  • Generally open Fridays – Sundays in the spring and the fall

The Hoh has one of the best visitor centers in the entire park.

You can do guided walks in the summer and check out interpretive exhibits.

The excellent and educational eco-system exhibit shows how what’s happening underground in the soil contributes to the forest canopy.


This 2 day Olympic National Park itinerary includes people hiking through tall evergreen trees with draping moss on a trail at the Hoh Rainforest.
Moss on trees at the Hoh Rainforest

Unique Conditions

The Hoh Valley receives more than twelve feet of rainfall per year! 

What results is a dense, green canopy and verdant undergrowth home to abundant wildlife and trees over 500 years old.

You’ll be amazed by the size of the trees you’ll encounter. The grandest trees here are draped in mosses and ferns, creating a primeval environment.  

Hoh Rainforest hiking trails include:

  • Hall of Mosses (Easy)***ADA accessible
  • Spruce Nature Trail (Easy)***ADA accessible
  • Hoh River Trail to Mineral Creek Falls (Easy – Moderate)
The lush undergrowth of the Hoh Rainforest with ferns and a moss covered tree trunk
A tapestry of green at the Hoh Rainforest

Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature Trail

These two loop trails are short, easy, and gorgeous.

The Hall of Mosses takes you through a section of old-growth forest where hanging moss adorns stately trees. The maples here are spectacular. You’ll feel like you’re walking through a nature-made cathedral.

The Spruce Nature Trail meanders alongside the Taft Creek and the Hoh River and features old and new-growth forests. 

We haven’t been so lucky to encounter any Roosevelt Elk during our adventures, but many have seen them on this trail.

Hoh River Trail to Mineral Creek Falls

  • Hike length: 6 – 7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 300 feet

I can’t recommend this trail highly enough. 

Gentle Hoh River flowing through a valley with a backdrop of dense evergreen trees
Hoh River

The Hoh River Trail is perfect for those who want to experience the tranquility and vegetation of the rainforest while enjoying river views.

It’s a popular backpacking trail because it takes you to Mount Olympus’s Blue Glacier. 

But you can go as far or as short as you like on this out-and-back trail.

Hoh River Trail Highlights

On our hike to Mineral Creek, I was captivated by towering trees and stunning shades and textures of greenery.

Hiking and forest bathing while hearing the sounds of the river felt like a dream.

It’s easy to remember to stop and look up and around, but don’t forget to look down on this hike. The intricate root systems you’ll hike over are equally spectacular.

Once we reached Mineral Creek, we pulled off the trail to sit and eat lunch while enjoying creek views. We watched backpackers cross the bridge on their way to camp. 

Wooden bridge over a creek in the sun-dappled, lush and verdant Hoh Rainforest
Mineral Creek

Ruby Beach

Day Two is all about experiencing Olympic National Park’s signature combination of lush rainforests and wild beaches.

Less than one hour away, Ruby Beach’s distinctive sea stacks, driftwood-laden coastline, and stunning sunsets make for a striking contrast to the Hoh.

Why Ruby Beach is Special

Ruby Beach is breathtaking.

The sound of the waves, the sight of Abbey Island off the coast, and the expansive feel of the Pacific Ocean leave a lasting impression.

I haven’t yet timed my visit so that I’m here at sunset. I’ve seen photos of sunsets here with the sky lit up with fiery red and orange streaks, softened by lavender shades.

Another reason for Ruby Beach’s popularity is its accessibility from the parking lot. A short walk is all that’s required, and its trail is wide enough for a wheelchair.

View of Misty Ruby Beach through trees with driftwood scattered ashore and towering sea stacks in the distance.
Ruby Beach. Photo credit Bruce Elzinga

Abbey Island

This small, rocky island is a focal point of Ruby Beach’s scenic landscape. 

At low tide, you can explore the beachscape around the island. However, always be cautious of marine life as you walk.

Avoid disturbing wildlife. Preserve the island’s wild and pristine condition by following “leave no trace” principles.

Birdwatchers will delight in this adventure, as Abbey Island provides habitat for migrating seabirds. 

The sea stacks around the island serve as nesting sites, allowing you to observe wildlife in their natural environment.

Evergreen trees and greenery on top of a rock island on a pebbly beach
Abbey Island. Photo credit Amanda Woodworth

Ocean Safety

If you walk out towards Abbey Island, always watch the tides so you don’t get stranded! 

I’ve watched visitors caught off guard by powerful ocean waves, and it can be dangerous if you’re not paying attention.

Watch the ocean currents carefully, especially if the weather is questionable.

Kalaloch Beach 4 – Tide-pooling

Kalaloch Beach 4 offers some of the best tide pooling opportunities in Olympic National Park. 

But getting there requires a short hike to the beach. 

Timing your visit so you arrive at or around low tide is key for tide-pooling adventures!

Overlook

If you have mobility issues, you can still enjoy expansive views of the ocean from the overlook.

From the trail accessible from the parking lot, stay to the right at the fork. It’s just a short, flat walk to the viewpoint.

Rocky cliffs and windswept trees line the overcast shore of Kalaloch Beach 4.
Kalaloch Beach 4. Photo credit Julie Thomas Jordan

Short Hike

The short hike to the beach takes you through a section of lovely coastal forest. 

You’ll cross a wooden bridge before arriving at a large rock that you must navigate before stepping on the beach. 

You can use the rope or not, carefully making your way down.

Green anemone and reddish-purple sea star on a wet and sandy beach
Marine life

Tide Pooling

Once you’re on the beach, head towards the grouping of rocks to the right for excellent tide pools.

Enjoy your time exploring all the marine life you’ll see here! 

Tide pools on the Olympic Peninsula turn me into a child filled with wonder. It’s delightful to see green and pink anemones, purple and coral sea stars, mussels, barnacles, and more.

Take care while exploring tide pools. Avoid stepping on marine life, and use a gentle hand while touching. 

Tree of Life 

The Tree of Life is a Sitka spruce tree growing over a hollowed-out section of coastline near the Kalaloch Campground.

Park near the day-use area at the campground and take a short walk on the beach to see it.

This 2 day Olympic National Park itinerary includes a stop at an incredible tree with exposed roots spreading across an eroding cliff on Kalaloch Beach.
The Tree of Life in January 2024. Photo credit Jasmine

Why the Tree of Life is Special

The tree’s trunk spans open space with its roots fully exposed, making it vulnerable to coastal storms and visitors who do not treat it carefully.

Despite its precarious position, it continues to live. 

Seeing the tree, I can’t help but marvel at how it came to be this way. 

It’s an incredible visual reminder of nature’s insistence on survival and resilience. 

Kalaloch 

By now, you might be ready to wind down. 

Or, you may have enough gas in your tank for another short forest hike near the beach.

Option 1 – Kalaloch Lodge

One option is to walk the grounds around Kalaloch Lodge, pop inside for a beverage to enjoy on the lodge deck, or sit and relax as you watch the ocean waves.

If you’re ready for a sit-down meal, the Creekside Restaurant serves hearty fish and chips and burgers.

If you visit in winter, you might not have access to the beach directly from the lodge. But beach access is available from the campground.

Sunlight filters through a dense forest onto the undergrowth
Kalaloch Creek Nature Trail. Photo credit AllTrails

Option 2 – Kalaloch Creek Nature Trail

  • Hike length: 1 mile
  • Elevation gain: 20 feet

The second option is to do the last hike on this itinerary, a short and easy nature trail near the lodge.

This hike through lush coastal rainforest is near the road but relatively quiet and peaceful.

You may even have the trail all to yourself!

Map: Olympic National Park 2 Day Itinerary

Check out the location of each destination on this two-day Olympic National Park itinerary on the map below.

Day 1’s stops are in orange; Day 2’s are in blue.

How to Get To Olympic National Park

Take the Bainbridge Island ferry from Seattle for a thirty-minute, direct boat ride to the Kitsap Peninsula. On a clear day, you’ll see incredible views of Mount Rainier.

I prefer the Bainbridge ferry over the sixty-minute Bremerton ferry because it’s a shorter boat trip and runs more frequently.

I do not recommend taking the Kingston-Edmonds ferry because this route always seems to have a high wait time.

Cars boarding the Bainbridge Island ferry on a rainy and cloudy day.
Boarding the Bainbridge Island ferry

Or, drive south through Tacoma on the I-5 to Hwy 16, crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and driving through Gig Harbor.

Then, take Hwy 3 through Bremerton to the Hood Canal Floating Bridge. 

TIP: As you make your way to the Olympic Peninsula, check the status of the Hood Canal Bridge and visit the National Park website for up-to-date road conditions.


EXTEND YOUR TRIP: If you take the Bainbridge Island ferry, consider a stop in historic Port Gamble, one of the best towns near Olympic National Park.


Olympic National Park Hotels: Where to Stay 

Stay in Port Angeles the night before day one and in Forks before day two for the best experience of this itinerary.

TIP: Book your accommodations as early as possible. Not only other travelers but locals like myself are booking hotels near the park!

Port Angeles

📍Best Budget Spot

I’ve had fantastic experiences at the Super 8, which offers one room like a small apartment.

The “Efficiency Room” has a living area, dining table, full kitchen, two double queens, and a bathroom.

📍Best Mid-Range Spot

Olympic Lodge by Ayres is the best hotel in Port Angeles. It has the cozy feel of a lodge and is clean and quiet.

Amenities include a pool, hot tub, and complimentary breakfast.


Editor's Pick
Olympic Lodge Port Angeles

Need a place to stay? Olympic Lodge by Ayres has a comfy, high-end cabin feel, and the customer service is excellent.

Book Now

Forks

📍Best Budget Spot

Pacific Inn Motel will not disappoint. It’s clean with updated interiors, and the people here are helpful and friendly.

The motel features a Twilight-themed room for fans of Stephenie Myer’s series.

📍Best Mid-Range Spot

The Quillayute River Resort is exceptional. Each cabin is on the river’s edge with river and garden views and a full kitchen.

It can accommodate large families and has laundry facilities.

TIP: Sequim is the best alternative to Port Angeles if you cannot secure Port Angeles accommodations.

Where to Eat When Visiting Olympic National Park

Port Angeles

There’s no shortage of restaurants in Port Angeles. 

The Great Northern Coffee Bar is my favorite stop for coffee and breakfast burritos. 

The Next Door Gastropub is my first pick when I crave a burger after adventuring. I devoured my perfectly seasoned elk burger and sweet potato fries here.

I wish I had ordered the Reuben sandwich at New Day Eatery the last time I was there, but I was overjoyed to see their case of yummy vegan and gluten-free baked goods.

At Country Aire Natural Foods, you can pick up snacks, groceries, and prepared meals to eat on the go.

Cozy bar atmosphere with string lights, chalkboard menu, and sports on TV.
Next Door Gastropub

Granny’s Cafe is open most of the year and is a comfortable and delicious place to stop on your way to Lake Crescent. Try their soft-serve ice cream or homemade pie.

Lake Crescent

The restaurants at Lake Crescent Lodge and Log Cabin Resort on Lake Crescent are open to the public. I was pleasantly surprised that Log Cabin Resort sells my favorite local beer, Silver City’s Tropic Haze.

Note that Log Cabin Resort is open from May through September. 

Lake Crescent Lodge is open year-round.

Forks

Forks has a few restaurants, including D&K BBQ, Sully’s Burgers, and FYABES Mexican Cuisine. 

Be patient with these local establishments on weekends and during the peak travel months. Easier said than done when you’re hungry, I know!

After hiking to Hole in the Wall at Rialto Beach, I bought dinner and snacks at the Forks Outfitters Thriftway to avoid long wait times.

Sully's Burgers diner with Pepsi signs, under a cloudy sky, exuding small-town charm.
Sully’s Drive-In in Forks

Kalaloch

Kalaloch Lodge also has a decent restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

TIP: I keep my car stocked with snacks, drinks, and even dinners to ensure I can eat a substantial meal in the evening if my adventures finish later than anticipated.

Olympic National Park Weather: A Seasonal Guide

The only thing predictable about Olympic National Park’s weather is its unpredictability most of the year. 

Be prepared for rain, sun, heat, and cool temperatures – all on the same day! 

Spring (March – Early June) 

Spring ushers in milder temperatures and a mix of rain and sunshine. 

One Friday in May, my husband and I explored La Push beaches bundled up in winter coats and beanies. By Sunday, we were wearing shorts and t-shirts on Second Beach.

Even when it’s sunny, higher elevations like Hurricane Ridge might still have snow.

I’ve included a section below on how to layer clothing to prepare you for unpredictable weather.

Summer (Late June – August)

Summer is the most popular time to visit due to warmer temperatures, little to no rain, and long days. 

Note that June is hit or miss. Locals call it “Junuary” when the weather’s terrible.

On one July trip to the peninsula, we wore shorts and shirts to drive to the Hoh Valley Cabins. But being near the rainforest, mornings and evenings were very cool.

I wore a mid-layer jacket in the morning and evening.

Hiker ascending a snowy trail under a bright blue sky.
My friend Jenna winter hiking to Hurricane Hill in January

Fall (September – November)

Fall weather can be brilliant. 80-degree days up until the first week of October are not uncommon. 

The weather generally varies after the first week of October, with sunny days giving way to rain as the season progresses. 

Despite the start of the rainy season, fall is one of my favorite times to hike in Olympic National Park because I love spotting mushrooms on the trail!

And it’s an excellent time to view salmon in rivers returning to spawn.

Winter (December – February)

While gray skies and rain are the norm during winter, we often get a handful of blue sky days, particularly in January and February.

Be prepared for rain storms no matter where you are in the park.

If you plan to visit Hurricane Ridge, expect snow. Layers are smart any time of year, but especially in winter. 

On a winter hike up to Hurricane Hill, my friend Jenna started with her puffy on and proceeded to strip down her tank top while we were on the trail.


⚠️Weather Tips:

  • Always check the forecast on the NOAA website before your trip.
  • Be mindful of seasonal road and trail closures, especially during winter and early spring when flooding and washouts are common.
  • Coastal storms and sneaker waves are dangerous and sometimes deadly. Always pay heed to weather advisories and beach closures.

What to Pack for Olympic National Park

The key to comfort is a strategic layering clothing system because the weather and temperatures can change considerably throughout the day.

Layering is a smart way to dress, no matter the season!

Layers allow you to easily take off or put on more clothing, which is essential for park adventures.

Layering System

1. Base Layer:

This layer of clothing always stays on and ideally manages moisture. 

  • Purpose: Base layers keep you dry by efficiently wicking away sweat from your skin.
  • Materials: Wear lightweight, breathable fabrics like synthetic blends or wool in winter.
  • My go-to: I wear tops like this one that wicks moisture and provides sun protection.

2. Mid-Layer:

Mid-layers provide insulation to keep you warm. Choose a breathable fabric.

  • Purpose: Mid-layers keep you warm but won’t trap heat or moisture if the fabric is breathable.
  • Materials: Breathable fleece, down, or synthetic insulation are excellent choices.
  • My go-to: I am a huge fan of lightweight zip-up, hooded soft-shell jackets. I own three!

3. Outer Layer:

You could also refer to this layer as rain gear. July and August are the only months I don’t typically carry a rain jacket in my backpack.

  • Purpose: Shields you from wind and rain.
  • Materials: Waterproof and windproof materials, like Gore-tex.
  • My go-to: I always wear Gore-tex jackets with hoods and vents under the armpits.

Embrace the layering system, and you’ll set yourself up for comfort, regardless of what the weather or the park’s diverse ecosystems throw your way.


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Additional Essentials:

  • Footwear: I wear waterproof hiking boots on trails and bring sturdy sandals on beach adventures. I own seven pairs of these moisture-wicking, synthetic socks.
  • Accessories: Hats and sunglasses are mandatory on sunny days. I always hike with trekking poles to protect my knees, especially on the descent.
  • Backpack: I always wear a backpack to carry water, snacks, a first aid kit, and layers. Get one with hip straps so your shoulders don’t bear all the weight.
  • Navigation: I always carry a GPS device even if trails are marked and many other groups are present. If you use your phone for navigation, bring a portable charger.
  • Sun Protection: Sunscreen is essential, even on cloudy days.
  • Insect Repellent: Bring repellent on forest hikes in late July through early August.
  • First Aid Kit: I keep a first aid kit in my backpack at all times.

Packing Tips:

  • Minimize cotton in your adventure wardrobe! Cotton is comfortable but does not dry quickly.
  • If you buy new boots, wear them around the house before your trip. You don’t want to learn that they’re uncomfortable on the trip!
  • Pack a few large plastic bags that you can put wet clothes in, just in case.

TIP: Carry some cash on you just in case you stop at a smaller establishment on the peninsula that doesn’t take cards.

FAQs: Olympic National Park Itinerary 

📍 What are the park’s entry fees and operating hours?

A standard entrance pass is $30.00 for one private vehicle and is valid for seven consecutive days. For only $25.00 more, you can purchase an Olympic National Park Annual Pass, good for twelve months. 

Or, you can purchase The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass for $80.00, which grants you access to all national parks for twelve months. This is a great option if you plan to also visit Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park. 

The park is open all year long, 24 hours a day. However, depending on the season or time of day, you may not always have access to certain areas of the park. 

For example, Hurricane Ridge Road is only open Friday through Sunday during the winter, from 9 am to 4 pm. 

Check the national park website before your visit.

Entrance to Olympic National Park Visitor Center on an overcast day.
The Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles is open daily year-round.

📍 Are there any safety considerations or park regulations I should be aware of?

Like anywhere else, it’s wise not to leave valuables in your car when you park. I’ve seen warning signs at La Push beaches stating that parked vehicles are subject to theft.

Other safety tips and park regulations:

  • Never feed wildlife; it’s illegal!
  • Follow wildlife safety guidelines, which include observing wildlife from a distance.
  • Drones and motorized equipment are prohibited.
  • All vehicles driving to Hurricane Ridge in winter must carry tire chains.
  • Always consult a tide chart and watch the tides when recreating on park beaches.
  • Watch the current and beware of dangerous sneaker waves.
  • Use a filter if you fill up your water from natural sources. 

TIP: With all the driving required to explore the park, filling up your gas tank when it’s half-empty is smart. I’m a fan of mitigating risk and unnecessary worry!

Warning sign against theft and listing prohibited items, which you will see when you visit Olympic National Park.
Sign at Third Beach in La Push

📍 Are dogs allowed in Olympic National Park?

Dogs are allowed in certain areas of the park. As a pet owner, you must follow the rules of BARK, an acronym that stands for:

  • Bag your pet’s poop
  • Always wear a leash
  • Respect wildlife
  • Know where you can go

📍 Can you see Olympic National Park in 2 Days?

You can do a highlights tour and see a satisfying amount of Olympic National Park in two days.

But you’ll need more time to see all the areas of the park.

The best park destinations and experiences include, but aren’t limited to: 

Seabirds dot an expansive beach with distant sea stacks under clouds.
Seabirds on Shi Shi Beach and Point of Arches in the distance

📍 How many days are enough for Olympic National Park?

“Enough” is a subjective term that depends on your tastes and preferences. 

Many travelers are thoroughly satisfied with what they can see in two days. Others prefer a slower pace of travel or enjoy spending a lot of time in one area. 

I’m always amazed by what I can do and see on my weekend trips to the park!

That said, 3 – 5 days is ideal to see all the park areas.

📍 What month is best for Olympic National Park?

If you’re traveling from out of town, July is best for Olympic National Park for its reliable weather and proximity to spring rains. Summer drought negatively affects the appearance of the Hoh Rain Forest, and some travelers are disappointed when they visit the rainforest in August. 

If you live in Western Washington, mid-September to early October is the best month to visit. During this time frame, you avoid summer crowds, and it’s comparatively easier to secure parking spots.  

There are three major bonuses to visiting mid-September to early October: fall color, mushrooms dotting the trails, and salmon returning to spawn.

Small mushrooms on a mossy nurse log on a verdant forest floor.
Mushrooms spotted on an October hike to Sol Duc Falls.

📍 What are the must-see attractions?

If you have only two days, this itinerary highlights some of the park’s best attractions. It includes Hurricane Ridge, the Elwha River, Lake Crescent, Marymere Falls, Rialto Beach, the Hoh Rainforest, Ruby Beach, tide-pooling at Kalaloch Beach 4, and the Tree of Life.

Cape Flattery in Neah Bay is not part of the park, but it is absolutely worth the drive if you have more time.


EXTEND YOUR TRIP: Considering three days instead of two?

Add a day to this Olympic National Park itinerary by heading to Neah Bay between days one and two. This extra day lets you see the best Neah Bay attractions: Cape Flattery and Point of Arches on Shi Shi Beach.


📍 What unique experiences shouldn’t be missed?

There’s no place in the world like Olympic National Park. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how fortunate I am to live so close to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

On the same road trip, you can experience mountain peaks, temperate rainforests, river and forest trails, and rugged coastal beaches. 

This itinerary features the following experiences unique to the park:

  • Tide-pooling at Kalaloch Beach 4
  • Hiking through forest on the shores of Lake Crescent
  • Exploring around Abbey Island, a massive sea stack 
  • Seeing Mount Baker across the Puget Sound from the Klahane Ridge Trail or Hurricane Hill Trail at Hurricane Ridge and many more
This 2 day Olympic National Park itinerary includes panoramic views of snow-capped peaks under blue skies from Hurricane Hill.
Mount Baker in the distance at center seen from Hurricane Hill.

📍 What are the best hikes for a short visit?

At Hurricane Ridge, the hike to Hurricane Hill is less than 4 miles round trip if you drive to the upper parking lot beyond the main parking lot. You’ll see amazing mountain views from the top of Hurricane Hill.

At Lake Crescent, the stunning hike to Marymere Falls is a little over 2 miles round trip. The Moments in Time Trail is a little over .5 miles for an even shorter hike.

At the Hoh Rainforest, the Hall of Mosses Trail and Spruce Nature Trail are short: .8 miles and 1.2 miles, respectively. 


📍 How long does it take to drive the loop in Olympic National Park?

Depending on traffic and road conditions, driving the Olympic Loop with minimal stops takes 7- 9 hours. This journey covers almost 330 miles and spans forests, valleys, coastal areas, and more. 

Most visitors take two to three days to complete the loop, stopping at popular destinations such as Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, Ruby Beach, and the Hoh Rainforest. 

This 2 day Olympic National Park itinerary includes driving over the Hood Canal Bridge where you'll see the Olympics in the distance on a blue-sky day.
Driving over the Hood Canal Bridge

2 Day Olympic National Park Itinerary Wrap-Up

In this article, I’ve highlighted an efficient approach to these fun-filled adventures for you to do based on some of my favorite park experiences.

Less time in the car and more time outside is my mantra.

I hope this 2 day Olympic National Park itinerary has made you even more excited to visit!

It’s packed with activities, but there’s still so much more to see, giving you the perfect reason to return to this wild and beautiful place.