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Seattle Road Trip: Seattle to Olympic National Park Itinerary

Seattle to Olympic National Park

If your ideal Seattle road trip includes exploring mountains, rainforests, and beaches all in one trip, Olympic National Park’s got you covered! This diverse national park is not only home to various ecosystems but also an abundance of wildlife, tons of hikes, and plenty of other outdoor activities. Getting from Seattle to Olympic National Park only takes a few hours!

With almost a million acres of land, there’s a lot of ground to cover here. Luckily, our extensive guide covers everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable road trip to Olympic National Park!

Best Route from Seattle to Olympic National Park

Located on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, Olympic National Park is one of the Pacific Northwest’s best national parks. This road trip is perfect for a long weekend since it’s conveniently located a few hours from the Seattle Escape Camper Vans location.

Because the Olympic Mountains span the park’s center, visitors must drive along the park’s perimeter on Highway 101 to get to most park destinations. This creates the perfect loop route and makes it easy to cover each of the park’s four distinct regions in one trip.

Following our itinerary, you will first head to the northern part of the park to marvel at the mountains and hike. Next, you’ll explore the coastline and some of the Pacific Northwest’s best beaches. Afterward, you’ll venture through temperate rainforests. Lastly, you’ll experience the breathtaking rapids in the southern part of the park before heading back to Seattle.

Travel Time from Seattle to Olympic National Park

Because there’s so much to see and do at Olympic National Park, we recommend that visitors spend four full days at the park and dedicate a day to exploring each region. However, if you have more time, you could easily explore the park for a few more days without running out of things to do.


Directions Tips:

During this trip, you’ll begin driving from the Seattle Escape Camper Vans hub and travel approximately 646 miles from start to finish. It will take about 14 hours and 2 minutes without stops, but we recommend completing this itinerary over five days.

The Best Time of Year for a Seattle to Olympic National Park Road Trip

While Olympic National Park is open year-round, some parts close or operate under reduced hours from late fall to early spring. Some roads and facilities close because of extreme weather, so check current conditions before your visit. If you are looking for something else, discover the best national parks to visit every month. 

That being said, each season has benefits and drawbacks. Here are some important seasonal differences to consider:

Spring: Spring is a great time to experience the park’s wildlife. The rainy season ends in April, and the weather begins to warm up. Still, some park areas remained closed until May, so be mindful of closures when planning a spring trip.

Summer: June to September are the busiest months to visit this park, making it more crowded than usual. At this time, the weather is warm, the rainfall is low, and all park areas are open.

Fall: The wet season here begins in October, which causes some road closures. However, there’s a lot of wildlife now, and the park is generally less busy. If you pack a raincoat and some layers, autumn can still be a nice time to visit.

Winter: Winter is the peak of the wet season. Which means some parts of the park experience heavy snowfall while others experience lots of rain. Although the weather can be extreme, winter also allows for exciting seasonal activities like snowshoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. If you are looking for a warmer vacation, check out our Arizona National Park Tour., or our other favorite destinations.

Preparation for a Seattle to Olympic National Park Road Trip

Simply put, Olympic National Park is huge, and you’ll need enough time to explore. Therefore, some preparation is essential for a smooth, stress-free trip. Using these tips, you can figure out the logistics beforehand and focus on having fun and exploring during your trip!

Olympic National Park Entrance Passes

When visiting Olympic National Park, you’ll need either a standard entrance pass or an annual one. The standard entrance pass for a camper van is $30 and is valid for seven consecutive days. The annual pass is $80 and is valid for one year from the date of purchase.

You can buy these passes at park entrance stations, visitor centers, or online.

Additionally, America the Beautiful passes can be used to enter Olympic National Park.

Campsites

Olympic National Park has 14 campgrounds throughout the park. Some can be reserved in advance during the summer, while others are always first-come, first-served. If you visit in the summertime, we highly recommend making campsite reservations beforehand or arriving early for first-come, first-served spots.

To check the status of a campground and if it accepts reservations, check out the National Park Service’s website.

Fortunately, a camper van also makes dispersed camping easy. You can camp for free on federal and BLM land, including Olympic National Forest. Download these apps to find free camping spots in the area.

Gear

Rain Gear and Seasonal Clothing: With PNW weather, you never know what you’re going to get, so pack accordingly. A raincoat is essential, especially for trips in the spring and fall. Pack a heavy coat, gloves, hats, and snow pants during the winter.

Layers: Even on hot days, the temperature cools off a lot at night in this region, so bring plenty of layers.

Sun Protection: Despite its northern location, the sun is still powerful in Olympic National Park, especially during the summer. Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat!

Food & Water: With a fully equipped kitchen and our useful kitchen kit add-on, you have everything you need to enjoy home-cooked meals right from your camper van! Stock up on food and water before you hit the road to make the most of the van’s convenient kitchen.

Navigational Tools

Phone & Chargers: A charged phone is necessary for a road trip, so pack a car charger and portable chargers. We also suggest you bring an AUX cord to enjoy your favorite road trip songs while driving.

Maps: Download the Google Maps route before hitting the road to view it offline. Packaging a printed map, just in case, is also a good idea!

Escape Camper Vans Rental

Escape Camper Vans offers a range of rental options to match your travel needs, group size, and destination. You can choose between the Mavericks, Mesa, and Del Mar van models from the Seattle pickup location. These models all sleep up to 5 people (with a rooftop sleeper) and come equipped with solar panels, a kitchenette, and a queen-size bed.

Browse our selection of vans to find the perfect model for your road trip from Seattle to Olympic National Park!

Seattle to Olympic National Park Road Trip Stops

With mountains, temperate rainforests, beaches, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls all in one park, there are endless opportunities for exploration at Olympic National Park. Following our 5-day itinerary, you’ll be able to experience a taste of each park region!

Day 1: Northern Olympic National Park

Start your adventure by picking up your camper van from the Escape Camper Vans Seattle location. From there, drive approximately 140 miles (2 hours and 50 minutes) to Hurricane Ridge.

After enjoying panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge, continue approximately 40 miles (1 hour) to Lake Crescent to hike, swim, or enjoy a picnic.

Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. A perfect Seattle road trip.

Sights and Activities in Northern Olympic National Park

Visit Hurricane Ridge: As Olympic Park’s most easily accessed mountain area, Hurricane Ridge is the perfect place to enjoy incredible views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains. From the Port Angeles Olympic National Park Visitor Center, it’s about an 18-mile drive up to Hurricane Ridge with plenty of pull-outs along the way to enjoy the scenery from. There are also several hiking trails here, and in the winter, the area transforms into a winter sports heaven.

Hike Mt. Storm King: A short but steep hike, Mt. Storm King provides unrivaled views of Lake Crescent from its peak. This 3.8-mile roundtrip hike requires pulling yourself up with ropes on a slippery dirt trail to get to the summit, so this is a good route for experienced hikers.

Hike Mount Angeles: Another challenging trek, this 5.6-mile out-and-back trail takes hikers to the highest peak in the Hurricane Ridge area. In the winter, this trail is popular amongst snowshoers. From the Port Angeles Olympic National Park Visitor Center, you can follow the High Ridge Nature Trail to begin this hike.

Picnic, Swim, or Hike at Lake Crescent: Known for its crystal-clear water, this glacial-carved lake is one of the area’s top attractions, especially on hot summer days. Here, you can take a dip, go kayaking or paddleboarding, or hike one of the nearby trails, including the Devil’s Punchbowl Trail.

Where to Eat in Northern Olympic National Park

Next Door Gastropub: The nearby town of Port Angeles has several delectable dining options, but Next Door Gastropub is at the top of our list for its impressive pub food and microbrew selection. There is no better post-hike spot to enjoy a burger and beer.

Blackberry Cafe: For a no-frills diner serving delicious meals all day, Blackberry Cafe can’t be missed. If you’re up for a real challenge, try to conquer the 20-ounce Sasquatch burger here.

Campgrounds in Northern Olympic National Park

Fairholme Campground: Situated on the west side of Lake Crescent, this campground has 88 campsites along the lake’s shoreline. From late May through late September, campsites can be reserved, and these bookings are accepted up to six months in advance. Outside of the peak summer season, sites are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

Heart O’ the Hills Campground: Peacefully nestled away in an old-growth forest, this campground is home to 97 campsites and offers water and restrooms. Sites are first-come, first-served all year.  

Day 2: Pacific Coastline

After enjoying a cup of coffee with a view, pack up and head west to the Pacific Coastline. From Lake Crescent, drive approximately 67 miles (1 hour and 32 minutes) to Cape Flattery, the northwestern point of the contiguous US. Once you’ve explored Cape Flattery, drive south and spend the day stopping at beaches along the coastline.

Lake Cushman in Olympic National Forest Washington. Olympic National Park is a must-stop for any Seattle road trip.

Sights and Activities on Olympic National Park’s Pacific Coastline

Walk the Cape Flattery Trail: Although Cape Flattery isn’t part of Olympic National Park, it’s worth a visit for its stunning vistas. The Cape Flattery Trail is the perfect way to take in the area’s nature while walking along its relaxed 1.5-mile roundtrip path. Visiting Cape Flattery requires a permit, which costs $20 per vehicle. This permit can be purchased at several nearby locations.

Visit Rialto Beach: Located within Olympic National Park, this beach features the classic PNW sea stacks, tidepools, and driftwood. Here, you can relax on the beach, watch for whales and sea lions, or check out Hole-in-the-Wall, a massive rock with a huge hole sculpted by volcanic eruptions.

Stroll Along Ruby Beach: Another iconic part of the PNW’s coastline, this moody spot is one of Washington’s most-visited beaches. The best thing to do here is to walk along the coastline and observe the tidepools and unique rock formations.

Watch the Sunset at Kalaloch Beach: With a few campgrounds nearby, this beach is an excellent place to watch the sunset before heading to your campsite for the night.

Where to Eat On Olympic National Park’s Pacific Coastline

Creekside Restaurant: Located within the historic Kalaloch Lodge, this restaurant serves seasonal seafood dishes and offers unbeatable ocean views.

Calvin’s Crab House: A casual seafood joint near Cape Flattery, Calvin’s Crab House has earned rave reviews for its delicious fish & chips and baked goods. Please note that this restaurant closes each winter.

Campgrounds on Olympic National Park’s Pacific Coastline

Kalaloch Campground: Open year-round, this campground has 168 campsites, some with beautiful beach views. Campsites can be reserved from late May through late September, and bookings are accepted up to six months in advance. Outside of the peak summer season, sites are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

South Beach Campground: A few miles south of Kalaloch Campground, South Beach Campground is another great camping spot along the coastline. It has 55 sites, and they are all first-come, first-served. However, this campground is only open from mid-May to late September.

Mora Campground: Close to Rialto Beach, Mora Campground is in a thick coastal forest containing 94 campsites. From late May through late September, campsites can be reserved, and these bookings are accepted up to six months in advance. Outside of the peak summer season, sites are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

Day 3: Hoh Rainforest

The third day of this road trip will take you to one of the US’s largest temperate rainforests. In this part of the park, you’ll experience massive old-growth trees, omnipresent moss, and maybe even some wildlife!

From Kalaloch, drive approximately 21 miles (25 minutes) to Hoh Rainforest.

Escape Camper Van in Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park in Washington.

Sights and Activities in Hoh Rainforest

Marvel at Nature Along the Hall of Mosses Trail: While strolling on the Hall of Mosses Trail, you’ll truly feel like you’re in a fantasy land because of the arched tree branches covered in moss hanging overhead. Since this trail is less than a mile round-trip, this is a very family-friendly activity.

Hike the Spruce Nature Trail: After completing the Hall of Mosses Trail, enjoy another relaxed hike along the Spruce Nature Trail. During this 1.2-mile loop, you’ll explore the magical rainforest and check out the Hoh River flowing alongside the path.

Where to Eat in Hoh Rainforest

Hard Rain Cafe: This restaurant is a local staple and the last stop for food and coffee before entering Hoh Rainforest. Serving breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, and more, a meal at the Hard Rain Cafe is sure to keep you fueled for your next adventure.

Note: There aren’t many restaurants near this part of the park, so make sure to stock up on food before heading there. The nearest town with restaurants and grocery stores is Forks (about 15 minutes north of Hoh Rainforest). 

Campgrounds in Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Campground: Conveniently located in the Hoh Rainforest. This campground offers 72 non-electric campsites open year-round (weather permitting). Campsites can be reserved from late May through late September, up to six months in advance. Outside of the peak summer season, sites are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

Queets Campground: About an hour south of Hoh Rainforest, Queets Campground has 20 campsites, all first-come, first-served. This peaceful campground is open year-round.

Falls Creek Campground: Another option an hour south of Hoh Rainforest, Falls Creek Campground is within Olympic National Forest. Its 31 campsites are all close to the beautiful Lake Quinault. Reservations can be made in advance online.

Day 4: Staircase

On your final day in the park, you’ll explore the southeastern region of Olympic National Park, Staircase. You can enjoy several day hikes in this part of the park and the area’s rivers, waterfalls, and lush forests.

From Hoh Rainforest, drive approximately 166 miles (3 hours and 32 minutes) to Staircase Rapids.

Nurse Tree in Staircase, Olympic National Park, near Seattle.

Sights and Activities in Staircase

Hike the Staircase Rapids Loop: Walking along the North Fork Skokomish River, you’ll experience all of Staircase’s biodiversity. This relaxed 2-mile hike also features an impressive bridge providing a lovely view of the rapids.

Hike the Shady Lane Trail: An easy hike to pair with the previously mentioned one, the Shady Lane Trail is a scenic path that’s less than two miles round-trip. Open year-round, this is also a nice trail to snowshoe on.

Cliff Jump at Lake Cushman: A beloved spot for swimming, fishing, and boating, Lake Cushman is a hot summer destination. Its northwestern shore also has a massive boulder known as “The Big Rock” that serves as one of the best cliff-jumping spots in Washington.

Where to Eat in Staircase

Nina’s Lake Cushman Cafe: Known for its friendly staff and expansive menu, Nina’s Lake Cushman Cafe is a can’t-miss restaurant about 30 minutes south of Staircase.

Hoodsport Coffee Company: Despite its name, this cafe serves more than just coffee. With sandwiches, soups, and even ice cream on its menu, visiting the Hoodsport Coffee Company is an unbeatable post-hike reward.

Note: There are also many restaurants and grocery stores about an hour away in Skokomish and Olympia. 

Campgrounds in Staircase

Staircase Campground: Situated along the North Fork Skokomish River, this campground is the best place to stay in Staircase. Its 49 sites are open for reservation during the peak summer season but are first-come, first-served in the off-season. However, this campground’s access road is unpaved and is often closed from November to May due to snow. Make sure to check the status of this road before visiting.

Note: The Olympic National Forest surrounds this part of the park to the south, and there are several excellent spots for dispersed camping there. 

Day 5: Escape Camper Vans Seattle

Enjoy one final morning in your camper van on the last day of the trip, pack up all your stuff, and head back to Seattle. From Staircase, drive approximately 97 miles (2 hours) to the Seattle Escape Camper Vans hub to return your camper van.

Why Rent a Camper Van for a Seattle to Olympic National Park Road Trip?

With so many campgrounds around the park and plenty of dispersed camping spots nearby, options for camping in Olympic National Park are endless! In a camper van, you can explore freely, camp comfortably, and make the most out of all the park’s incredible natural beauty.

Benefits of Renting a Camper Van vs. an RV

Renting a camper van instead of a traditional RV for an Olympic National Park road trip offers several advantages. Here are a few of those perks:

Compact: Thanks to its smaller design, navigating Olympic National Park’s mountainous roads is much easier in a camper van than in an RV.

More Mobile: Camper vans allow users to get off the beaten path and explore places RVs can’t.

No Hookups Required: Escape camper vans do not require electricity or sewer hookups like RVs, so you can camp more freely in campgrounds and dispersed camping areas.

Adventure-Ready: Escape Camper Van’s vehicles are thoughtfully designed for adventure seekers and equipped with everything you need to embark on an epic road trip!

Reserve with Escape Camper Vans for Your Seattle to Olympic National Park Road Trip

With our Seattle to Olympic National Park itinerary, you’re on your way to the road trip of a lifetime. Now, it’s time to book your camper van with Escape Camper Vans, pick it up from the Seattle location, and embark on the ultimate Olympic National Park adventure!

Book My Washington Road Trip!

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