Planning Your Trip to Olympic National Park
When preparing for your visit to Olympic National Park, there are several critical considerations to keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s crucial to note that Hurricane Ridge Road is closed during the winter months, except on Fridays through Sundays and holidays that fall on Mondays. Given that Hurricane Ridge provides convenient access to the Olympic Range and is one of the park’s prime attractions, planning your trip around these closures is essential.
Secondly, it’s important to be mindful of the crowds. Summer is the peak season when the park sees the most visitors. If you prefer a more serene experience, consider visiting during the fall when the crowds start to thin out.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you should consider the weather. Olympic National Park’s rainforest areas receive an annual rainfall of up to 140 inches. To fully enjoy your visit, make sure to choose a time of year when you can explore without being overly affected by the rain. Be sure to explore our seasonal pages, which provide detailed information about what to expect during each season.
Top Rated Olympic Hiking Adventures
Weather in Olympic
The weather in Olympic National Park can vary significantly from one area to another. To assist with your planning, you can check the current weather for Hurricane Ridge, the Quinault Rainforest, and Rialto Beach. Below, you’ll find average temperature ranges and the number of precipitation days for these locations throughout the year.
Best Time of Year for Hiking
Hiking in Olympic National Park is most enjoyable during the spring and summer when the weather is pleasant. Snow can start to accumulate in the high country as early as September, so planning your trip for the spring or summer is advisable. Always check trail conditions before embarking on your hike to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. With over 600 miles of trails, there’s a hike suitable for every skill level. Consider joining a guided day hike to explore the best the park has to offer while learning about its biology, geology, and cultural history from experienced local guides.
Explore Olympics with Award-Winning Guides
Best Time of Year for Backpacking
Summer is the ideal time for backpacking in the Olympic Peninsula. During this dry season, most of the snow has melted from higher elevations, allowing access to trails in the high country. The rainforest trails become even more lush after the wet spring. Summer also offers warm daytime temperatures and mild evenings, perfect for camping under the stars. Familiarize yourself with obtaining backcountry permits, especially if you have specific sites in mind. Keep in mind that backpacking is a popular activity during this season, so securing your itinerary may require some planning. Consider a guided backpacking trip with Wildland Trekking to eliminate the stress of planning and logistics.
Best Time of Year for Fishing
Olympic National Park boasts diverse environments, each supporting unique fish populations. The best fishing times vary by region:
Mountain Fishing: Spring and summer are ideal for catching rainbow trout in the mountain region, with Lake Crescent offering unique species like Crescenti and Beardslee trout.
Elwha River: Fall is the prime season to catch salmon, especially Coho salmon, as they migrate to the coast for spawning. Steelhead and trout are also abundant in the summer.
Rainforest Fishing: Spring is the best time for catching Winter steelhead in the rainforest regions. Warmer spring waters make these fish more active.
Coastal Fishing: Summer and fall provide excellent opportunities to catch Cutthroat trout, Redtail surfperch, and rockfish along the coast. Be aware of fishing regulations, especially if fishing on the Pacific Ocean coast.
Explore Olympics with Award-Winning Guides
Best Time of Year for Boating
Boating is a popular activity in Olympic National Park, offering opportunities for whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. Late spring to early fall is the best time for boating, with decreased precipitation and warm daytime weather. Keep in mind that weather conditions can change suddenly, and temperatures can vary significantly between coastal and mountain areas.
Lake Ozette and Lake Crescent offer backcountry camping options along their shores, allowing for multi-day canoe or kayak trips with backcountry permits. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards at Lake Crescent for a relaxing experience on the water.
Best Time of Year for Sightseeing
For sightseeing, the best time in Olympic National Park is from late spring through fall. During this period, the rainforests are lush and vibrant after the winter rains, and most of the snow has melted from the high country, providing access to stunning mountain vistas. Late spring sees reduced precipitation, allowing you to enjoy all aspects of the park. Even in early fall, before the rainy season returns, sightseeing remains delightful.
Best Time of Year for Wildlife Viewing
Olympic National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, and the best time to view them varies:
Migratory Marine Mammals: Witness whale migrations in spring (April-May) and fall (October-November) along the Olympic Coast. Orca whales are best seen in summer and fall, while gray whales are visible in spring and fall. Humpback whales are prominent in the fall, and harbor porpoises are common in summer.
Roosevelt Elk: Roosevelt elk can be seen throughout the year, with the rut (mating season) starting in September. Hoh Rainforest is an excellent place to spot them.
Olympic Marmot: These unique marmots are best seen in the summer on alpine trails near Hurricane Ridge.
Mountain Goats: Mountain goats, introduced in the 1920s, are often spotted on alpine trails along Hurricane Ridge. Their mating season is from October to December.
Birds: Olympic National Park is home to over 300 bird species. Refer to the Audubon Society for detailed information about bird habitats, behaviors, and seasonal patterns.
Best Time to Avoid Crowds
Fall and winter are the best seasons to avoid crowds in Olympic National Park. Summer is the busiest time, but as the weather turns rainy, the crowds diminish. Despite the precipitation, you can still enjoy the park:
- Fall brings vibrant foliage in October.
- Precipitation transforms streams and waterfalls into spectacular sights.
- The rainforest canopy provides cover on wet days.
- The coastal weather creates picturesque scenery, perfect for photography.
- Hit the slopes at Hurricane Ridge.
- Enjoy the tranquility of the park without the crowds.
If you visit during the summer, consider arriving early, having a clear agenda, and exploring less-visited areas like Deer Valley and the Quinault Valley to make the most of your trip.
Join a Guided Hiking Adventure
Olympic National Park offers incredible hiking opportunities, and Wildland Trekking provides guided trips that cover the best of the park, including the coast, mountains, wildlife, and cultural interpretation. Their all-inclusive treks cover permits, transportation, meals, equipment, safety, and knowledgeable guides, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the park’s beauty.
Olympic Adventure Tours
- Guided Backpacking Adventures: Authentic Olympic National Park adventures away from the crowds and roads.
- Inn-Based Hiking Packages: All-inclusive packages with lodging, daily hikes, expert guides, meals, and transportation.
- Camping-Based Hiking Packages: Complete hiking experiences along the Olympic Coast on outdoor vacations.
- Day Hike Tours: Maximize your day in Olympic National Park with fully guided, award-winning hiking tours on the best trails the park has to offer.