Post Summary: Olympic Peninsula Road Trip route in Washington (Best views and stops on 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!
Reading this post in the wintertime? No worries! This itinerary still applies, except that higher elevation areas like Sol Doc and Hurricane Ridge will be closed. But there still is plenty to do!
Read More: 11 Gorgeous Places You Must See On The Olympic Peninsula
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
- Olympic National Park Camping Suggestion
- Olympic National Park 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 planning to take the entire weekend, but a long weekend is best!
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 Road Trip Map (Driving Route)
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip Tips
The easiest way to get around the Olympic Peninsula is by car. Just like many other iconic scenic drives in Washington state, the trip is best taken slow, with options for detours and side trips!
- Estimated drive time: 17 hours (see our fave road trip tools + apps)
- Miles to drive: 694 miles
Need to rent a car? Consider elevating your trip from just a regular sedan to renting a tricked-out camper van! If you’ve ever wanted to experience van life, an Olympic National Park road trip loop is the perfect place to try it out! Consider browsing the selection on Outdoorsy – think of it like Airbnb but for campervans! You can find everything from Vintage VW Westfalias to high-tech Sprinter vans.
Camping along the way? We religiously use the app The Dyrt, the largest campsite finding app on the market! With the pro membership, we can easily search for campsites offline (perfect for last-minute planning!) and mapping out our route to find the best campgrounds along the way. They gave us a 30-day free trial to share (only for our readers!) so make sure to use the code Mandagies to snag yours just in time for road trip planning season!
Read these posts to prep for your trip:
- The Complete Olympic National Park Packing List
- 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
- Going on a longer trip? Read about 19 more iconic road trips on the west coast!
Starting Point: Start Your Olympic Peninsula Road Trip In Seattle Heading South
Before you leave, make sure you have everything you need for your Olympic Peninsula road trip. (We always pack these road trip essentials!) This includes a full tank of gas, food, camping gear, and road trip entertainment for the long journey ahead!
If you just flew into Seattle from out of town, consider staying overnight to confirm your road trip plans and buy any last-minute gear (Seattle DOES host the flagship REI store as you know!). Here are some of the coolest neighborhoods in Seattle to check out during your short stay.
On the day of your Olympic Peninsula itinerary, we suggest heading out early to avoid Seattle traffic. It usually gets pretty heavy starting at 7:00 am.
Stop 1: Olympia Coffee Roasters
But wait! On the way, 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.
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 Make Coffee While Camping
Stop 2: The Staircase Area
The Staircase Area of Olympic National Park is the least visited section of the park, which is perfect for visitors who love quiet & dreamy walks in the rainforest.
Some of the most popular Olympic National Park hikes here include the Rapids Loop, The North Fork Loop, and the Shady Lane Trail that leads to Lake Cushman. Along these trails, you can be sure to spot gorgeous ferns lining the trail floor, mossy hanging from the trees, and peeks or the river surrounded by a lush forest.
Camping is available here, so if you end up loving this stop on your Olympic Peninsula road trip route, consider staying overnight!
Looking for a bit more adventure? Check out Lena Lake, a 7.2-mile out-and-back beginner backpacking trip in Washington (1,300 elevation gain) where you can camp right at the lake’s edge!
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. Lake Cushman is a great option if you wish to go camping in the Pacific Northwest as well!
Some Olympic National Park camping locations nearby 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: 101 Adventurous Things To Do In The Pacific Northwest
(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.
Wanting to Beach Camp in The Olympic National Park? Read This:
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 one of the easiest Washington beaches to access from Highway 101. The parking lot is big albeit a little primitive (just dirt and gravel) so expect potholes and puddles after heavy rain. There are pit toilets here for use.
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!). This area includes three Washington beaches – respectively called First, Second, and Third Beach. You can camp at Second 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.
Read More: 11 Tips For Beach Camping Tips at La Push + How To Survive Camping In The Rain
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.
If you want to go camping on this Washington beach, make sure to pick up a permit and read about the proper places to set up your tent.
It’s passed Hole-In-The-Wall and may require a river passing only accessible during low tide.
Read More: Hiking Hole In The Wall at Rialto Beach
Stop 8: Explore The Hoh Rain Forest
The Hoh Rainforest is one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests, 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
- Sol Duc Falls Hike: (1.6-mile out and back trail) Very Easy
Read More: 10+ Useful Tips For Hiking In The Pacific Northwest
Stop 9: Cape Flattery
Cape Flattery is 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.
On your Olympic Peninsula road trip, this stop is likely the most out of the way location.
Take note that a visit to Cape Flattery is a significant detour from everything else on your Olympic Peninsula Road trip. It isn’t particularly on the way to anything.
Make sure to allot an entire morning and afternoon to really enjoy your time here. 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 1.6-mile round trip trail to this beautiful and extremely powerful falls in the middle of the Olympic National Park. It’s one of the most iconic waterfalls in Washington.
On the way there, you’ll drive alongside the Sol Duc River winding down forested, green-canopy roads.
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!
Read More: 5 Pacific Northwest Hot Springs You Must Visit
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.
Read More: How To Wake Up For Sunrise (For People Who Hate Mornings)
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 National Park Lodging & Accommodations
Wondering where to stay on the Olympic Peninsula? There are countless beautiful Olympic National Park accommodations options that fit any type of budget.
Read below to discover some of the best places to stay in the Olympic Peninsula.
Free Places To Stay On The Olympic Peninsula
Need a free place to stay? There are so many free camping spots in Washington around the Olympic National Park, but you’ve got to do your research first!
Read our guide to finding the best free camping spots that are legal, beautiful, and fun!
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!
Affordable Olympic National Park Accommodations
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)
Port Townsend (Darling Coastal Town Near The Puget Sound)
- Want a discount? Click here to get up to $55 off your first stay with Airnbnb!
Luxury Olympic National Park Accommodations
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 an Olympic Peninsula road trip!
The wet Washington weather is part of the experience, and we love the gloominess of all of the Washington beaches.
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)
A winter road trip on the Olympic Peninsula season brings the heaviest precipitation of rain and snow, but you’ll see mild weather along the Washington beaches.
Expect to see lots of snow in high elevation places like Hurricane Ridge, and campground closures throughout the Olympic National Park. Make sure to call ahead before your Olympic National Park road trip to confirm location openings.
There are plenty of places for skiing and snowshoeing, but check trail conditions before heading out on those winter adventures.
Spring Weather (March – May)
In the Spring, there is unpredictable weather in the Olympic National Park. Rain is very likely, and in some cases, there could be snow. Campgrounds are 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 temperatures.
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 your next Olympic Peninsula road trip? Follow our Pacific Coast Road Trip Board on Pinterest for more inspiration!