The wild, shell-strewn Pacific coast teems with tide pools and crustaceans. Crabs, sand dollars, anemones, sea stars, and all sorts of shellfish are exposed at low tide, when flat beaches can stretch out for hundreds of yards. The most easily accessible sand-strolling spots are Rialto, Ruby, First, and Second beaches, near Mora and La Push, and Kalaloch Beach and Fourth Beach in the Kalaloch stretch.

The Wilderness Act and the park's code of ethics instruct visitors to leave all nonliving materials where they are for others to enjoy.


The rough gravel car tracks to some of the park's remote sites were meant for four-wheel-drive vehicles, but can double as mountain-bike routes. The Quinault Valley, Queets River, Hoh River, and Sol Duc River roads have bike paths through old-growth forest. Graves Creek Road, in the southwest, is a mountain-bike path; Lake Crescent's north side is also edged by the bike-friendly Spruce Railroad Trail. More bike tracks run through the adjacent Olympic National Forest. Note that U.S. 101 has heavy traffic and isn't recommended for cycling, although the western side has broad roads with beautiful scenery and can be biked off-season. Bikes are not permitted on foot trails.

Tours and Outfitters

All Around Bikes. This bike, gear, and repair shop is a great resource for advice on routes around the Olympic Peninsula. Bike rentals cost $30 per half day, $50 all day, and $60 for 24 hours. 150 W. Sequim Bay Rd., Sequim, Washington, 98382. 360/681–3868;

Sound Bike & Kayak. This sports outfitter rents and sells bikes, kayaks, and related equipment. Kayak rentals run $15 per hour and $50 per day. Bikes rent for $10 per hour, $45 per day, or $55 for 24 hours. 120 E. Front St., Port Angeles, Washington, 98362. 360/457–1240;


At 7,980 feet, Mount Olympus is the highest peak in the park and the most popular climb in the region. To attempt the summit, climbers must register at the Glacier Meadows Ranger Station. Mount Constance, the third-highest Olympic peak at 7,743 feet, has a well-traversed climbing route that requires technical experience; reservations are recommended for the Lake Constance stop, which is limited to 20 campers. Mount Deception is another possibility, though tricky snows have caused fatalities and injuries in the last decade.

Climbing season runs from late June through September. Note that crevasse skills and self-rescue experience are highly recommended. Climbers must register with park officials and purchase wilderness permits before setting out. The best resource for climbing advice is the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles.

Tours and Outfitters

Mountain Madness. Adventure through the rain forest to the glaciated summit of Mount Olympus on a five-day trip, offered several times per year by Mountain Madness. Washington. 800/328–5925; 206/937–8389; From $1,200 for 5-day climb.

The Olympia Mountaineers. A branch of the Seattle Mountaineers, this group schedules climbing-oriented activities throughout the park. Washington. 360/754–1530;


There are numerous fishing possibilities throughout the park. Lake Crescent is home to cutthroat and rainbow trout, as well as petite kokanee salmon; Lake Cushman, Lake Quinault, and Ozette Lake have trout, salmon, and steelhead. As for rivers, the Bogachiel and Queets have steelhead salmon in season. The glacier-fed Hoh River is home to chinook salmon April to November, and coho salmon from August through November; the Sol Duc River offers all five species of salmon. Rainbow trout are found in the Dosewallips, Elwha, and Skykomish rivers. Other places to go after salmon and trout include the Duckabush, Quillayute, Quinault, and Salmon rivers. A Washington state punch card is required during salmon-spawning months; fishing regulations vary throughout the park. Licenses are available from sporting-goods and outdoor-supply stores.

Tours and Outfitters

Bob's Piscatorial Pursuits. This company, based in Forks, offers salmon and steelhead fishing trips around the Olympic Peninsula from mid-September through May. Forks, Washington. 866/347–4232; From $225 per person for 2 people; $340 for 1 person.


Know your tides, or you might be trapped by high water. Tide tables are available at all visitor centers and ranger stations. Remember that a wilderness permit is required for all overnight backcountry visits.


Hoh River Trail. From the Hoh Visitor Center, this rain-forest jaunt takes you into the Hoh Valley, wending its way for 17.4 miles alongside the river, through moss-draped maple and alder trees and past open meadows where elk roam in winter. Easy. Olympic National Park, Washington, 98363.

Hurricane Ridge Meadow Trail. A ¼-mile alpine loop, most of it wheelchair accessible, leads through wildflower meadows overlooking numerous vistas of the interior Olympic peaks to the south and a panorama of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north. Easy. Olympic National Park, Washington, 98362.


Cape Alava Trail. Beginning at Ozette, this 3-mile boardwalk trail leads from the forest to wave-tossed headlands. Moderate. Ozette, Washington, 98326.

Graves Creek Trail. This 6-mile-long moderately strenuous trail climbs from lowland rain forest to alpine territory at Sundown Pass. Due to spring floods, a fjord halfway up is often impassable in May and June. Moderate. Olympic National Park, Washington, 98575.

Sol Duc River Trail. The 1.5-mile gravel path off Sol Duc Road winds through thick Douglas fir forests toward the thundering, three-chute Sol Duc Falls. Just 0.1 mile from the road, below a wooden platform over the Sol Duc River, you'll come across the 70-foot Salmon Cascades. In late summer and autumn, thousands of salmon negotiate 50 miles or more of treacherous waters to reach the cascades and the tamer pools near Sol Duc Hot Springs. The popular 6-mile Lovers Lane Loop Trail links the Sol Duc falls with the hot springs. You can continue up from the falls 5 miles to the Appleton Pass Trail, at 3,100 feet. From there you can hike on to the 8.5-mile mark, where views at the High Divide are from 5,050 feet. Moderate. Olympic National Park, Washington, 98363.


High Divide Trail. A 9-mile hike in the park's high country defines this trail, which includes some strenuous climbing on its last 4 miles before topping out at a small alpine lake. A return loop along High Divide wends its way an extra mile through alpine territory, with sensational views of Olympic peaks. This trail is only for dedicated, properly equipped hikers who are in good shape. Difficult. Olympic National Park, Washington, 98363.

Kayaking and Canoeing

Lake Crescent, a serene expanse of teal-color waters surrounded by deep-green pine forests, is one of the park's best boating areas. Note that the west end is for swimming only; no speedboats are allowed here.

Lake Quinault has boating access from a gravel ramp on the north shore. From U.S. 101, take a right on North Shore Road, another right on Hemlock Way, and a left on Lakeview Drive. There are plank ramps at Falls Creek and Willoughby campgrounds on South Shore Drive, 0.1 mile and 0.2 mile past the Quinault Ranger Station, respectively.

Lake Ozette, with just one access road, is a good place for overnight trips. Only experienced canoe and kayak handlers should travel far from the put-in, since fierce storms occasionally strike—even in summer.

Tours and Outfitters

Fairholm General Store. Kayaks and canoes on Lake Crescent are available to rent from $20 per hour to $55 for eight hours. The store is at the lake's west end, 27 miles west of Port Angeles. 221121 U.S. 101, Port Angeles, Washington, 98363. 360/928–3020. Closed after Labor Day–Apr. and Mon.–Thurs. in May.

Lake Crescent Lodge. You can rent canoes and kayaks here for $20 per hour and $45 per half day. Hour-long guided kayak tours are offered daily for $35 in a single kayak and $45 in a double kayak. 416 Lake Crescent Rd., Olympic National Park, Washington, 98363. 360/928–3211; Closed Jan.–Apr..

Log Cabin Resort. This resort, 17 miles west of Port Angeles, has paddleboat, kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals for $20 per hour and $55 per day. The dock provides easy access to Lake Crescent's northeast section. 3183 E. Beach Rd., Port Angeles, Washington, 98363. 360/928–3325; Closed Oct.–mid-May.

Rainforest Paddlers. This company takes kayakers down the Lizard Rock and Oxbow sections of the Hoh River. They also offer river rafting and kayak rentals. 4883 Upper Hoh Rd., Forks, Washington, 98331. 360/374–5254; 866/457–8398; Tours from $45; kayak rentals from $11/hr.


Olympic has excellent rafting rivers, with Class II to Class V rapids. The Elwha River is a popular place to paddle, with some exciting turns. The Hoh is better for those who like a smooth, easy float.

Tours and Outfitters

Olympic Raft and Kayak. Based in Port Angeles, this is the only rafting outfit that offers trips on the restored Elwha River in Olympic National Park. It also offers half-day kayaking trips on the Salish Sea, launching from a county park in Port Angeles. 123 Lake Aldwell Rd., Port Angeles, Washington, 98363. 888/452–1443; From $60.

Winter Sports

Hurricane Ridge is the central spot for winter sports. Miles of downhill and Nordic ski tracks are open late December through March, and a ski lift, towropes, and ski school are open 10 to 4 weekends and holidays. A snow-play area for children ages eight and younger is near the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center. Hurricane Ridge Road is open Friday through Sunday in the winter season; all vehicles are required to carry chains.

Tours and Outfitters

Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Rent snowshoes and ski equipment here December through March. Hurricane Ridge Rd., Port Angeles, Washington, 98362. 360/565–3131; Closed Mon.–Thurs..