One of America’s greatest national parks lies in the most northwestern corner of the lower 48 states. Just west of Seattle awaits a wilderness that is unique in the world, a vast expanse of mountain ranges, lakes, coastline and rain forests. This park is epic—I can’t call it anything else—and deserves at least two days. So, in this post, I’ve outlined how to spend 2 days in Olympic National Park, the bare minimum to experience its mind-boggling variety.
How to Spend 2 Days in Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is not a park that’s particularly easy to visit. For one, there are no roads that run through its interior, which is dominated by Mount Olympus. The only main access road is Highway 101. This scenic road loops around the park’s edges, while a few side roads lead a bit deeper into the park. On top of that, the Olympic Peninsula is pretty large and getting around often takes more time than you might expect.
Therefore, a visit to Olympic requires some advance planning and a rental car. Know what you want to see and do and when you’re going to do that. Two long days are the absolute minimum amount of time you need to do the park justice. Here’s how to spend those 2 days in Olympic National Park in the most efficient way.
Day 1: The Mountains
First, stop by the visitor center in Port Angeles for a park map and newspaper, to watch to introduction movie and get all kinds of additional information. When you’re done there, head up to Hurricane Ridge for sensational views of the Olympic Mountains and a short hike or two. This is the highest point in the park you can reach by car.
Head back down and west on Highway 101 toward Lake Crescent. This shimmering glacial lake is the perfect lunch stop, a wonderful place for hiking and boating. Hit the short trail to Marymere Falls, starting at the Storm King Information Center, or rent a kayak or paddleboard for a couple of hours of fun on the water.
Afterward, continue your drive west. Shortly after passing the entire lake, turn south onto the road toward Sol Duc.
Day 2: The Rain Forest and Coast
The second of your two days in Olympic National Park is dedicated to the park’s two other main biotopes: the rain forest and the coast.
You have a few options here—two of both, in fact. You can visit Rialto Beach and the Mora area for spectacular coastal scenery, combining this with a hike in the Hoh Rain Forest. Alternatively, head a bit further south to Ruby Beach and Lake Quinault for a similar combination of coast and rain forest. Or you can mix and match as you please, of course.
Whatever you do, don’t skip the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the most jaw-dropping forests in any national park. As far as coastal areas go, you can opt for either the Rialto Beach or Ruby Beach area. Both are absolutely glorious, characterized by rock formations, tidepools, wild beaches and wildlife.
These 2 days in Olympic National Park offer you a first-hand experience of the majestic beauty of this varied park. You’ll certainly long for more after having gotten a taste of what the park has to offer!
Consider visiting Olympic National Park as part of an epic Washington national parks road trip!