Spending a Weekend in Olympic National Park

Considering the seemingly never-ending natural beauty of Washington State, it is sometimes easy to forget about the wonders of the Olympic Peninsula. Sprawling nearly one million acres, Olympic National Park contains three distinct ecosystems – glaciated mountains, rugged Pacific coastline and lush temperate forests. Best part? You can explore it all. Not sure where to explore first? Don’t worry – that’s where we come in. Join us as writer and photographer Joe Duffy takes an adventure to Olympic National Park.

ferry

Getting There

My favorite way to get to Olympic National Park from Seattle is to take the Bainbridge Island Ferry. Departing from the Seattle Ferry Terminal near Pioneer Square, the ferry offers a great way to start your trip. The ferry ride boasts expansive views of the Seattle skyline and the Puget Sound, so make sure to pack your camera. It even has a small cafeteria on board, so grab a cup of coffee or a cold beer, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Fairholme Campground

If you’re looking for an authentic outdoor experience, you can’t beat pitching a tent and sleeping beneath the stars. That’s why I love staying at Fairholme Campground. Nestled right on the west shore of Lake Crescent, Fairholme is a fairly large, first come first serve campground with all the basic amenities including potable water, picnic tables and fire pits at each of it’s 88 sites.

You also have direct access to Fairholme beach, so pack a swim suit and some sunscreen. Last but not least, make sure to stop in at the Fairholme Store to rent paddle boards or enjoy an ice cream cone. They’ve also got you covered in case you forgot any of your 10 essentials.

First time camping? Check out this Camping Checklist courtesy of REI.

Mount Storm King

Things to do in Olympic National Park

Once you’re set up with a space to sleep, there’s a ton of stuff to do in this area, and I’m excited to share my favorites with you.

Mount Storm King

Mount Storm King – located just half an hour from Fairholme Campground, Mount Storm King is a four mile (roundtrip) hike with 2065’ of gain – which is to say it is a pretty steep hike. This one isn’t for the faint of heart but trust us when we say the sweeping views of Lake Crescent are well worth it.

Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, check out Marymere Falls. Located at the same trailhead as Mount Storm King, this two mile loop offers two viewpoints of the 90-foot-high waterfall.

Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls are a must see – just a half hour drive from Fairholme and you’ll be in the heart of the Olympic National Park. Just a mile from the parking lot, a leisurely stroll through an old growth forest will have you gaping at the awe-inspiring falls in no time.

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery

Looking for a bit more adventure? We’ve got you covered. Check out Cape Flattery, the northwestern most point of the contiguous United States where the Strait of Juan de Fuca joins the Pacific Ocean. This is just a surprisingly accessible 1.5 mile round trip hike that offers incredible views of the rugged Pacific coastline and the Tatoosh Island Lighthouse. On your way back to camp, stop at Calvin’s Crab House in Neah Bay for a delicious plate of fish and chips!

Pyramid Peak

Pyramid Peak Hike

Hungry for another hike? Hit up Pyramid Peak. This hidden gem is a seven miler that takes you through shady old growth forest up to a World War II lookout built for spotting enemy air and watercraft. From the top, you’ll have expansive views of Lake Crescent and the straight of Juan de Fuca. Don’t forget to pack a snack!

Cape Flattery

Adventure Awaits

What are you waiting for? Now that you’ve got a plan, all that’s left is to go. Check out a few of our recommendations and better yet, discover a few of your own. Olympic has something for everyone, so head out there and enjoy yourself. All that’s left is to go!

Looking for another hike to tackle in the area? Check out our adventure to Klahhane Ridge.

Avatar

Joe Duffy

Joe discovered an affinity for the mountains at an early age when his grandparents would take him to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. They’d give him a disposable camera to document the trip and the rest is history. Joe has been drawn to the mountains ever since. Joe lives in Seattle with his girlfriend Colleen and their two cats, Kodiak and Denali. Working in the city during the week, Joe and Colleen are really good at weekends and always try to make the most of them.

5 Comments

  1. Anonymous on September 24, 2019 at 4:56 am

    4.5

  2. Exploring Lake Crescent - Explore Washington State on September 25, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    […] for another stunning spot on the Olympic Peninsula? Join Explore Washington State contributor Albertine Wang as she takes you on a journey to one of […]

  3. […] honest-to-goodness rain forest does actually exist! Located on the Olympic Peninsula inside of the Olympic National Park, this protected rain forest gets around twelve feet of rain per […]

  4. […] Olympic National Park is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Sleep under the stars while you explore the largest temperate rainforest in the continental U.S. Some of the better-known campgrounds in Olympic peninsula are Kalaloch and Sol Duc. These needs reservations, while the other campgrounds here are first-come, first-served. […]

  5. […] grew up on the Olympic Peninsula after my mom moved back from Bellingham when I was just 3 years old. Aside from a couple years in […]

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