Olympic Overview

Olympic National Park, located in the northwest corner of Washington State, USA, encompasses a diverse and stunning landscape that spans nearly 1,442 square miles (about 3,734 square kilometers). Established in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, underscoring its global environmental significance. Olympic National Park is celebrated for its unique ecosystems, which include rugged Pacific coastline, temperate rainforests, and the towering peaks of the Olympic Mountains.

The park’s varied topography supports an incredible diversity of ecosystems. The Pacific coastline offers more than 70 miles (113 kilometers) of wild, untouched beaches dotted with sea stacks, tide pools, and the rhythmic ebb and flow of the ocean. Moving inland, the park is home to some of the largest expanses of temperate rainforest in the United States, including the Hoh and Quinault Rain Forests, where ancient trees are draped in mosses and ferns, creating a lush, green world that receives up to 12 feet (about 3.6 meters) of rain annually.

Ascending further, the landscape transitions to the subalpine and alpine environments of the Olympic Mountains, crowned by Mount Olympus at 7,980 feet (2,432 meters). This high country is characterized by rugged peaks, glaciers, and alpine meadows bursting with wildflowers in the summer.

Olympic National Park offers a wide range of recreational opportunities, from tidepooling along the coast and exploring the verdant rainforests to hiking in the alpine regions. With over 600 miles (about 966 kilometers) of trails, visitors can immerse themselves in the natural beauty and solitude of the park’s wilderness areas.

The park’s isolation and varied environments have also made it a haven for wildlife, including species such as the Roosevelt elk, black bears, and mountain goats, as well as a rich variety of birdlife. Olympic National Park is a place of immense natural beauty and ecological diversity, inviting visitors to explore its pristine landscapes and discover the wonders of the Pacific Northwest.

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Olympic National Park Highlights


Olympic National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Washington State, boasts a diverse range of ecosystems, from rainforests to alpine ridges, providing a sanctuary for an array of wildlife species that captivate visitors with their beauty and the insights they offer into the park’s ecological complexity.

Roosevelt Elk Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, these majestic elk are the largest in North America, often seen grazing in the park’s meadows and valleys.

Black Bear A common sight in the park’s forests, Black Bears are an integral part of the ecosystem, foraging for berries, nuts, and occasionally fish.

Mountain Goat Introduced to the Olympic Peninsula, Mountain Goats are now a prominent feature of the park’s alpine environments, their white coats contrasting with the rugged terrain.

Black-tailed Deer Native to the Pacific Northwest, Black-tailed Deer are frequently spotted in the park, particularly in forested areas and along the edges of meadows.

Bald Eagle Symbolizing American wilderness, Bald Eagles are often seen soaring over the park’s coastlines and rivers, hunting for fish with their powerful talons.

Banana Slug A symbol of the park’s rainforest, the Banana Slug is one of the largest slug species, notable for its bright yellow color and importance to the ecosystem.

Olympic Marmot Endemic to the Olympic Peninsula, these social marmots are known for their distinctive whistles and play a crucial role in the park’s alpine and subalpine ecosystems.

River Otter Frequenting the park’s rivers and coastal areas, River Otters are playful and agile, showcasing the richness of Olympic’s aquatic habitats.

Pileated Woodpecker The park’s forests resonate with the drumming of Pileated Woodpeckers, large, striking birds that play a vital role in maintaining healthy forest ecosystems.

Pacific Tree Frog Widespread across the park, the Pacific Tree Frog’s chorus fills the night air, a small but vibrant participant in the park’s diverse amphibian life.

Olympic National Park’s wildlife, from the stately Roosevelt Elk to the diminutive Pacific Tree Frog, reflects the park’s ecological diversity, inviting visitors to explore and appreciate the intricate web of life within this spectacular natural sanctuary.

Hoh Rainforest

The Hoh Rainforest, located in Olympic National Park, is a lush and verdant temperate rainforest renowned for its abundant rainfall, towering trees, and rich biodiversity. With an average annual rainfall of over 140 inches (355 centimeters), the Hoh Rainforest is one of the wettest places in North America, resulting in a dense canopy of mosses, ferns, and epiphytes that thrive in the moist, humid environment.

Visitors to the Hoh Rainforest can explore a network of hiking trails that wind through ancient groves of towering Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and Douglas fir, while also enjoying opportunities to spot wildlife such as Roosevelt elk, black bears, and Pacific tree frogs.

The Hoh River, which flows through the heart of the rainforest, provides habitat for salmon and trout and offers opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and scenic river walks.

Whether you’re seeking solitude, adventure, or simply a chance to connect with nature, the Hoh Rainforest offers a truly immersive and unforgettable wilderness experience.

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge, located in Olympic National Park, is a mountainous alpine region known for its stunning vistas, wildflower-filled meadows, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. Rising to an elevation of over 5,200 feet (1,585 meters), Hurricane Ridge offers panoramic views of the surrounding Olympic Mountains, including peaks such as Mount Olympus and Mount Carrie.

Visitors to Hurricane Ridge can explore a network of hiking trails that wind through subalpine forests and alpine meadows, while also enjoying opportunities for wildlife viewing, photography, and snowshoeing in the winter months.

The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center provides information about the area’s natural and cultural history, as well as amenities such as restrooms, picnic areas, and a gift shop.

Whether you’re seeking a challenging hike, a leisurely stroll, or simply a chance to take in the breathtaking mountain scenery, Hurricane Ridge offers something for everyone to enjoy.

Coastal Region

The coastal region of Olympic National Park is characterized by its rugged coastline, pristine beaches, and dramatic sea stacks, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Stretching for over 70 miles (113 kilometers) along the Pacific Ocean, the park’s coastline offers opportunities for beachcombing, tidepooling, wildlife viewing, and photography.

Visitors to the coastal region can explore sandy beaches such as Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach, which are renowned for their stunning scenery and abundant marine life.

Additionally, the coastal region is home to several iconic sea stacks, including the towering formations at Shi Shi Beach and Second Beach, which provide a dramatic backdrop for sunset photography.

Whether you’re exploring tide pools, watching for migrating whales, or simply soaking in the sights and sounds of the ocean, the coastal region of Olympic National Park offers a truly immersive and unforgettable coastal wilderness experience.

Engaging Olympic National Park

Explore the diverse landscapes of Olympic National Park on its extensive network of hiking trails. Trek through lush temperate rainforests, along rugged coastline, and into alpine meadows as you discover the park’s breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife.

Choose from a variety of trails suited for all skill levels, from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry treks. Highlights include the Hoh River Trail in the rainforest, the coastal trails near Kalaloch and Ruby Beach, and the Hurricane Ridge Trail in the mountains.

Hiking in Olympic National Park offers opportunities to connect with nature and experience the park’s unique ecosystems up close.

Embark on a scenic drive through Olympic National Park to experience its stunning landscapes from the comfort of your vehicle. Cruise along the scenic roads that wind through old-growth forests, along rugged coastline, and up into the mountains, offering breathtaking views at every turn.

Highlights include the Hurricane Ridge Road, which offers panoramic vistas of the Olympic Mountains, and the Lake Crescent Highway, which winds along the shores of a pristine mountain lake. Scenic drives in Olympic National Park provide a leisurely and immersive way to appreciate the park’s natural beauty and diverse ecosystems.

Discover the pristine beaches of Olympic National Park and enjoy a relaxing day of beachcombing and exploration. Stroll along sandy shores, search for seashells and driftwood, and admire the stunning coastal scenery, including sea stacks, tide pools, and rugged cliffs.

Highlights include Ruby Beach, Rialto Beach, and Second Beach, which offer opportunities for tidepooling, wildlife viewing, and photography. Whether you’re seeking solitude or adventure, beachcombing in Olympic National Park offers a chance to unwind, connect with nature, and enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest coastline.

Olympic National Park Trails

Hoh River Trail to Five Mile Island

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 10.6 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: Winding through the heart of the Hoh Rainforest, this trail offers a captivating journey into one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. Hikers will experience lush greenery, moss-draped trees, and the chance to spot wildlife. The trail to Five Mile Island is relatively flat, making it accessible for most hikers seeking to immerse themselves in the park’s verdant landscape.

Hurricane Ridge Trail

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.6 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 700 feet (213 meters)

Description: Offering panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound, the Hurricane Ridge Trail is a must-see for first-time visitors. The paved trail is family-friendly and leads to Sunrise Point, where on clear days, visitors can see as far as Canada. The trailhead is easily accessible from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

Sol Duc Falls Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.6 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: This short and easy hike leads to the stunning Sol Duc Falls, one of Olympic National Park’s most photographed waterfalls. The trail meanders through old-growth forest and provides a serene experience culminating in a dramatic view of the falls cascading into a narrow gorge.

Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: This beach hike offers a unique coastal experience with views of sea stacks, tide pools, and rugged beaches. The hike to Hole-in-the-Wall requires timing with the tide but rewards hikers with natural arches and the opportunity to explore marine life in the tide pools. It’s an unforgettable journey along the park’s wild coastline.

High Divide Loop

Rating: Strenuous

Distance and Elevation Gain: 18.2 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 3,100 feet (945 meters)

Description: This challenging loop trail takes hikers through the heart of the park, offering breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains, alpine lakes, and meadows bursting with wildflowers.

The trail passes by the Seven Lakes Basin and offers chances to spot wildlife. It’s a strenuous hike but offers some of the most spectacular scenery in Olympic National Park.


1. What is Olympic National Park known for?

Olympic National Park is most renowned for its incredible diversity of ecosystems, ranging from rugged coastline to temperate rainforest, alpine meadows, and glaciated peaks.

The park’s iconic features include its stunning coastline, which stretches for over 70 miles (113 kilometers) along the Pacific Ocean, featuring pristine sandy beaches, towering sea stacks, and dramatic coastal cliffs.

Olympic National Park is also famous for its lush temperate rainforests, such as the Hoh Rainforest, which receive abundant rainfall and support a rich variety of plant and animal life.

Furthermore, Olympic National Park is known for its impressive alpine landscapes, including the glaciated peaks of the Olympic Mountains, which rise to heights of over 7,000 feet (2,134 meters).

Visitors to the park can explore a network of hiking trails that lead to breathtaking vistas, serene mountain lakes, and cascading waterfalls.

With its stunning natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, and opportunities for outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing, Olympic National Park stands as a crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • All Trails, Best Trails in Olympic National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Britannica, Olympic National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Geographic, Everything to know about Olympic National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Geographic, Complete National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Publishing, Washington DC.
  • National Geographic, Guide to the National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Society, 2003.
  • National Geographic, National Parks of North America, Canada-United States-Mexico, National Geographic Society, 1995.
  • National Park Foundation, Pacific Wilderness,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Park Service, Olympic,, retrieved April 2024.
  • UNESCO, Olympic National Park,, retrieved April 2024.