Olympic National Park: Family-Friendly Favorites
By Carrie Willink
For the national park junkie, Olympic National Park is a must-visit. This place has so much to offer as there is something for just about every type of person. Whether you’re into rock climbing, hiking, camping, driving, big views — there’s something here for you! As a family with young kids, the hikes, beaches, and drive-up vistas are our speed. Allow us to recommend a few suggestions! But remember, you really can’t go wrong at this park. The drive alone to different points of interest will take your breath away.
If you’re coming from the Seattle Escape Campervans depot, consider taking the ferry! We had our Google Maps set to “Avoid Tolls and Ferries” and that almost added an hour and 60 miles to our trip! Given the ferry cost of around $15 to transport our van and ourselves, this was WELL worth it for us. Plus the boat ride was fun AND they sold hot pretzels! … WIN!
Some of the campsites are by reservation only so be sure and do some researching if you want to stay closer to the beach. We stayed in “Heart O’ the Hills” campground and this was first come, first serve. We absolutely loved this location! This campground was crazy awesome as it sits nestled in an old growth forest with 300-foot fir trees towering over you. Feels like a fairytale!
We aren’t picky when it comes to camp spots but this place had multiple beautiful options. There were no showers, electric or sewer hookups in this specific location. The bathrooms were nice and clean for a campground. Make sure you get there early enough to claim a spot in busy seasons. If you like beautiful tall trees, you’ll love this place!
This is 0.7 miles out and back trail. This place has multiple amazing textures. You will hike through what feels like a rain forest, then reach the large fallen trees to the gorgeous Ocean with stunning boulders. You will absolutely love all the things you can find at this beach. We spotted starfish, crabs, sea urchin, a bald eagle, just to name a few! We also spotted a rare “Banana Slug” as Google later revealed for us. I thought it was a snake head! Thankfully some unimpressed passers assured me it was not. Oh me, oh my, people need to lighten up about their slug knowledge. Anyways! The beach was absolutely stunning with the waves crashing on the boulders and so much open space for the babies to run free! Make sure and have your camera for some beautiful shots and memories.
Lake Crescent Vistas
As you ride along the 101 highway you’ll see many places to stop and view the surrounding beautiful Crescent Lake. The lake is 12 miles long with many vistas along the way. Make sure you take some time to sit and relax at one of these. The lake has such clarity and is brilliantly blue. This is due to the lack of nitrogen in the water which helps the growth of algae. We were able to cook up some delicious chicken in our campervan and sit watching the water go by. Hearing the words “I love watching da water go by” from your 3-year-old is one of those moments you’ll never forget.
A few miles straight up from our campsite was this beautiful ridge. Each switchback as you drive up gives you a new view as you make your way up in the clouds. Once at the top I’m sure on a clear day it’s absolutely breathtaking! Sadly, we hit a pretty rainy day but it was still fun to make the drive up into the clouds! There was a visitor center at the top with snacks, souvenirs, and bathrooms.
The options are endless in Olympic National Park, with every design texture and possibility! We hope to spend more time here one day but until then we have a wonderful experience to remember.