Post Summary: Olympic Peninsula Road Trip route in Washington and the best views and stops to take along the way.
Road trip season is upon us! With the Pacific Northwest seeing maybe 3 months of reliable sunshine every year, we’re not surprised that camping, beach trips, and hikes have taken over our Instagram feed.
Scrolling through social media, I see a lot of people exploring the Olympic Peninsula! That makes us so happy because it’s one of our favorite national parks.
Because we love the Olympic National Park so much, we wanted to create an itinerary that lets you see everything. Read on to explore our ultimate Olympic Peninsula road trip itinerary, and how you can have your best adventure yet!
The Ultimate Olympic Peninsula Road Trip
Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect in this post. We’re going to be covering:
- Olympic Peninsula Loop Driving Map (From Google Maps!)
- Stops along the Olympic Peninsula
- Camping Suggestion
- Lodging Suggestions
- The Best Olympic Peninsula Hikes
- Best Times To Visit The Olympic Peninsula
In order to get the most out of this Olympic Peninsula road trip, we suggest reserving two days at least, but a weekend is ideal. There is so much to see and explore – a weekend like this will only be covering the highlights!
Read More: 8 Clever Steps For A Flawless Weekend Trip
Olympic Peninsula Loop Drive Map
Estimated drive time: 17 hours
Estimated cost of gas: $75.oo + Ferry ride $14.20 (see our fave road trip tools + apps)
Miles to drive: 694 miles
Also interested in an Olympic National Park Map?
Click here to download topographical maps, driving maps, and recreational maps from the Olympic National Forest Service Website.
Starting Point: Seattle Headed South
Before you leave, make sure you have everything you need for a road trip. This includes a full tank of gas, food, camping gear, and road trip entertainment for the long journey ahead!
We suggest heading out early to avoid Seattle traffic. It usually gets pretty heavy starting at 7:00 am.
Read these posts to prep for your trip:
- 30 Things You Need To Pack For A Road Trip
- 101 Road Trip Questions To Ask Your Friends
- 10 Insanely Useful Road Trip Tools To Save You Time And Money
Stop 1: Olympia Coffee Roasters
Get your coffee to-go or bask in the ultra-cool, urban ambiance of Olympia Coffee Roasters. Originally a wholesale coffee roaster, they are now a thriving coffee shop focusing on innovative as well as original drinks. (And they also opened a new location in West Seattle!)
They have won countless awards for their delicious coffee and talented baristas. Hop in and grab a bag of fresh beans on your way to make coffee on the road!
Read More: How To Prepare Coffee On The Road
Stop 2: Vance Creek Bridge
A few years ago you were able to get onto Vance Creek Bridge and explore it by foot, but recent developments have deemed this feat extremely difficult, dangerous, and illegal.
This bridge is on private property, but since determined foot traffic comes anyways, they took extra efforts to keep people off once and for all. Some wood panels have been removed to prevent people from climbing on the structure, though there is a viewing area for people who still wish to see it for themselves!
We still recommend going to see it! But please don’t try to climb on the bridge itself.
Read More: Read More: 11 Gorgeous Places To See On The Olympic Peninsula
Stop 3: Lake Cushman
The peaceful Lake Cushman has “classic summer day” written all over it. If you care for a swim, stop at Skokomish Park Beach to get access to the water for a day-use area. You can find more information here on The Outdoor Project.
Lake Cushman is a great option if you wish to go camping in the Pacific Northwest as well! Some suggested campsites are Staircase Campground, Skokomish Campground, and Big Creek Campground.
Again, if you plan to explore the Olympic National Park and others this season, we suggest purchasing an Annual National Park Pass. It not only saves you money on park entrance fees, but also gives you free access to national forests, seashores, and other federal recreation sites.
Read More: The Essential 2017 PNW Bucket List
(Pictures below were taken in January!)
Stop 4: Lake Quinault Ranger Station
If you are looking to camp on a Washington state beach, you MUST stop by a ranger station to register and pick up a required bear can to store your food. Lake Quinault Ranger Station in the most convenient stop on your Olympic peninsula road trip.
There are two stations on either side of the lake, and it’s very important to know the difference between them. The Ranger Station on the north side of the lake (20 min. drive east of 101) is called The Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station. Don’t go here. We made this mistake and it was closed – no hours posted. You are NOT allowed to drop off bear cans here, either.
Instead, go to the Pacific Ranger Station – Quinault District, south of the lake. Here, you can be issued a wilderness pass to camp in the Olympic NP, and pick up a free (and required) bear can to store your food. Also, note that it is only open until 4 pm. Get your permits before it closes!
Read More: The Most Beautiful Hikes In Washington State
Stop 5: Ruby Beach
Ruby Beach is an incredible Washington coast beach easily accessible for its parking lot.
Here, you will find towering rock formations, huge driftwood to climb, and tons of nooks and crannies to enjoy a picnic on the beach. Come during low tide to get access to most of this beach and get a closer look at the rocks!
Read our post about what to bring to the Washington coast to get the most out of your trip to the Pacific ocean!
Read More: Exploring Ruby Beach In October
Stop 6: La Push Beaches
This is where we suggest you stop and camp (with a pass!). There are three beaches – respectively called First, Second, and Third Beach.
Before bringing our camping stuff over to Second Beach, we parked and had dinner at First Beach. We wanted to bring minimal food and garbage, but that’s really up to you to pack it or not. We camped for one night and listened to the waves crash against the shore as we drifted to sleep. It was magical!
The iconic Second Beach requires a 15-20 minute hike from the parking lot, but the views are worth every step.
Stop 7: Rialto Beach
Yet another gorgeous beach to explore on your way up the coast – Rialto Beach! This beach is particularly beautiful and moody, with bare driftwood and a constant fog to fit the mood.
If you feel a little adventurous, hike Hole-In-The-Wall trail (4 miles round trip) to a natural tunnel-like formation. From here, you get a fantastic perspective of the beach! Just make sure to go during low tide for the most access.
Read More: Hiking Hole In The Wall at Rialto Beach
Stop 8: Explore The Hoh Rain Forest
The Hoh Rainforest is one of world’s largest temperate rainforest, with this particular Olympic National Park one getting as much as 14 feet of rain per year! That’s a ton!
You can learn about the history and geology of the area at the Hoh Rainforest Visitors Center. There are plenty of things to do here, including some amazing Olympic National Park hikes.
Here Are Some Of The Best Hikes In Olympic National Park:
- Mount Storm King (4.7-miles round-trip) Difficult.
- Marymere Falls (1.8-miles round-trip) Easy.
- Ozette Triangle Loop Trail (9.5-mile loop trail) Moderate-Difficult
- Hall of Moss Nature Loop (0.8-mile loop trail) Easy
- The Tree of Life (0.25-mile beach hike) Very Easy
Stop 9: Cape Flattery
Cape Flattery is the located in the most northwest corner of the contiguous United States. You can’t get any more Pacific Northwest than this! Here, you can walk on several boardwalks, all with stunning vistas.
Take note that a visit to Cape Flattery is a significant detour from everything else, and not particularly on the way to anything. We suggest bringing lunch or packing a picnic to spend the afternoon watching the waves crash against the shore and rocks. Here are some tips on road trip meals and snacks for your journey!
See More: Our Most Recent Trip To Cape Flattery
Stop 10: Sol Duc Falls
Hike the 2-mile round trip trail to this beautiful and extremely powerful falls in the middle of the Olympic National Park.
Nearby is the Sol Duc Falls Resort, which has its own natural hot springs turned into regulated (and clean) pools if this is something you’re interested in. There is camping here too!
Stop 11: Lake Crescent + Mt. Storm King Hike
The Lake Crescent area is the most beautiful and iconic stop, in our opinion. If you’re lucky, the water will be still and make a gorgeous reflection of the nearby mountains and sky.
You can access the water via the Storm King Ranger Station boat launch, or on the opposite side of the lake at Fairholme. Come in the morning to catch the lake at its most calm and maybe even stay for a while and kayak!
If you are looking for a little adventure to spice up this part of the trip, test your limits and hike Mount Storm King! This 4.7-mile round trip hike is extremely challenging. Hikers will gain more than 2,000 feet in elevation and attempt to pass a rock scramble with the help of installed ropes.
Check the weather before you hike this trail – unruly conditions like snow, rain or wind can make this trail dangerous to attempt. If you’re up for the challenge anyway, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most gorgeous views of the entire lake!
Read More: Test Your Limits At Mount Storm King
Stop 12: Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge is a 40-minute drive off Highway 101, a little detour off your Olympic Peninsula road trip.
Berty and I love coming here for a great view of sunrise and/or sunset. Either one will give you spectacular views of the sky and clouds that surround the area! We like to come up here to take photographs of the valley below – the dense forest on the ridge is unlike anything else.
Stop 13: Olympic Game Farm
If you haven’t seen any wildlife in the actual wild yet, stop by Olympic Game Farm to see them up close!
This is a drive-thru park, meaning you aren’t allowed to leave your car, but the animals can get right up to your windows! You are allowed to feed the animals whole wheat bread only. You can bring your own, or they have loaves for purchase there. This was a fun, light-hearted stop!
There is a resident bear here, trained to wave – give it a try! Important Note: Hours: 9am – 6pm. 7 days a week.
Final Stop 14: Ferry Ride Back To Seattle!
The most convenient ride is from Kingston to Edmonds, but you can also catch the Bremerton Ferry which delivers you directly to downtown Seattle. Check the ferry times at this link. If you choose to take the downtown Seattle ferry, make sure to go out on the deck to get gorgeous shots of Seattle as you come in!
Olympic Peninsula Lodging & Accommodations
Wondering where to stay on the Olympic Peninsula? There are countless beautiful lodging options that fit any type of budget. Read below to discover some of the best places to stay in the Olympic Peninsula.
Camping in the Olympic National Park is one of the most magical things you can do! From staying at a high elevation campsite like Deer Park Campground or in the rainforest at Graves Creek Campground, there are endless options. Some of our favorite Olympic National Park campgrounds include…
- Deer Park Campground
- Graves Creek Campground
- Hoh Rainforest
- Kalaloch Campground (for great ocean views)
- Want to be near the Pacific Ocean? Read our guide to camping on Washington beaches.
Reminder, many of these places are first-come, first-serve, and almost always require a cash deposit. Bring cash is smaller bills and come early to guarantee yourself a campsite!
There are plenty of affordable Airbnbs, motels, and Olympic National Park hotels that are near all the outdoor attractions. Here are some suggestions for towns and areas to stay:
- Forks, WA Lodging (Close to beaches, and Hoh Rainforest)
- Port Angeles (nearby Sol Duc Falls, Lake Crescent, and BC Ferries)
- Want a discount? Click here to get up to $55 off your first stay with Airnbnb!
If you are wanting a little more comfort and relaxation on your trip, there are plenty of Olympic Peninsula lodging options to choose from. Here are some of our favorite, and each are close to attractions like beaches, rainforest, and beautiful hikes in the area.
- Quillayute River Resort (Near La Push and Rialto Beach)
- Kalaloch Lodge In Olympic National Park
- Lake Quinault Lodge
When Is The Best Time To Visit The Olympic Peninsula?
Personally, we think any time of year is the best time to take a Olympic Peninsula Road Trip! The wet Washington weather is part of the experience, and we love the gloominess of the Washington coast. However, if you’re interested in coming in a particular season, check out some things to expect during each time of year.
Winter Weather (December – February): This season brings the heaviest precipitation of rain and snow. Expect to see lots of snow in high elevation places like Hurricane Ridge, and campground closures throughout the Olympic National Park.
There are plenty of places for skiing and snowshoeing, but check trail conditions before heading out on those winter adventures.
Spring Weather (March – May): Unpredictable weather in the Olympic National Park. Rain is very likely, and in some cases, snow. Campground opens, but make sure to prepare for camping in the rain.
Summer Weather (June – August): Summer is the most popular season to visit the Olympic Peninsula. The temperatures are mild, but will rarely be HOT. Expect to see fog on the coast. There is always still a chance of rain, even in the summer.
Autumn Weather (September – November): The temperature starts to cool but the ground of the Hoh Rainforest and lower elevation locations will still see heavy rain. The higher elevation places in the mountains will experience freezing temperature.
Check for road and campground closures if you plan to do your Olympic Peninsula road trip during the fall.
Have you ever taken an Olympic Peninsula Road Trip? What was your favorite stop? Did we miss any must-see locations? Tell us in the comments below!
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Want more ideas for you next Olympic Peninsula road trip? Follow our Pacific Coast Road Trip Board on Pinterest for more inspiration!
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