The Art of Smart Timing
More than half of the park's visitors arrive during July, August and September, when peak warmth and sunshine allow more outdoor fun, and there's good reason to visit in summer. Olympic's size can easily accommodate visitors, and there's no need to worry about heat, as temperatures average 65 to 75 degrees. But with relatively mild temperatures year-round, any season can be good -- just bring your rainshell and fleece for possible precipitation. Keep in mind, rain can roll in any time of the year. Spring and fall are beautiful seasons with lush new growth in the rain forest and fall colors at Hurricane Ridge.
Located on the Washington State Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park is approximately three hours northwest of Seattle via Interstate 5 and Highway 101. The closest airport is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, serviced by Alaska Airlines, Delta, Southwest, United and others.
By Road (least time-consuming): From Sea-Tac, travel north via the Tacoma Narrows and Hood Canal bridges. Alternatively, from Olympia, travel north on Highway 101.
By Ferry: From downtown Seattle, take the Bainbridge Island ferry, or from Edmonds, just north of Seattle, the Edmonds-Kingston ferry. Keep in mind that Washington ferries are popular during summer months.
From the North: Use Whidbey Island's Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry. This boat is smaller than the Seattle-area ferries and takes reservations with a deposit. Reservations are recommended, especially during summer months.
Whichever season you're visiting, having a car is best for navigating the large park and distances between destinations. If you fly into Seattle, plan to rent a car for the peninsula.
Off the Radar
Be sure to stop at the roadside Joyce General Store on Highway 112 for souvenirs and munchies if you're heading to Salt Creek Recreation Area. This cute general store is packed with a bit of everything from cast iron cookware to autoparts to candy and gives kids a taste of the old days.
Salt Creek Recreation Area is a particular favorite with kids, offering fantastic tide pooling at the Tongue Point Marine Sanctuary. This 196-acre park offers great camping, sandy beaches, recreational play equipment, and a couple of World War II gun batteries.
Olympic National Park Visitor Center