Dispersed Camping Near Olympic National Park
Dispersed camping is another option for camping near Olympic National Park.
Also known as wild camping, dispersed camping is camping outside of a designated campground.
This means you wont have any normal campground amenities such as running water or bathrooms. Remember to always follow the leave no trace principles .
Dont forget that camping is only allowed in certain areas. On the Olympic Peninsula, its generally restricted to the Olympic National Forest.
The best thing about dispersed camping? Its free!
Another option for free camping on the Olympic Peninsula is to stay at a DNR campground.
There are 12 DNR campgrounds on the Olympic Peninsula. Each requires a Discover Pass which costs just $30 per year. Other than that, they are free to use.
How Did The Staircase Area Of Olympic National Park Get Its Name
You may be confused as to why you wont be seeing a staircase on the list of bucket list things to do in Olympic National Park.
Back in 1890, Lieutenant ONeil and his work crew had a tough time getting through the Skokomish Wilderness. This was especially true across the river and the rock bluff near the campground today.
Therefore, they built a cedar staircase to help them get across as they worked! It stayed until 1911 when the Shady Lane Trail was built in its place. The name still remains as a reminder of the history and the people that shaped the area!
Near The Hoh Rainforest
There arent very many places to stay near the Hoh Rainforest, but here are two options if you want to get up early to see the rainforest at its best in the early morning.
Hoh Valley Cabins: These cabins offer the essential comforts, including separate bedrooms and living areas, kitchenettes and propane fireplaces, located right in the heart of the Hoh Rainforest for easy access to the trails.
Hoh Campground : The Hoh Campground isnt reservable but its a great first come, first serve option nestled in a setting of ancient moss-draped trees in the rainforest, with RV and tent sites, some of which are right along the Hoh River.
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Camping At Kalaloch And Exploring Olympic National Park
The Pacific Northwest is a dream destination for so many. Sure, we have our rain and grey skies, but we also have incredible mountains, beaches and forests. Olympic National Park is the perfect spot to experience all of those things, and the west side in the Kalaloch area is really an ideal home base. Camping or lodging, Kalaloch has you covered and you never have to go far to find the perfect PNW adventure.
To be upfront about it, Kalaloch is NOT close to any city and visiting is dedicating yourself to a weekend or few midweek days. You wont be at a loss for things to do with interesting sites and activities all around you, especially in the summer, so embrace the road trip and head out to the coast!
What you’ll find…
What To Pack For Your Visit To Olympic National Park
Here are the gears that you should bring with you if you are an outdoor enthusiast and planning for an outdoor expedition in Olympic National Park.
Rain jacket. You will use it for protection from drizzles and downpours while in the Pacific Northwest in Olympic National Park.
Park maps. You should download or have a detailed map while touring Olympic National Park to help in direction purposes, save you time, and prevent you from getting lost.
Tide Chart, Topographic map and watch. These gears will help you if you are planning to explore the coastline and the tide pools.
Sturdy, hard-soled water shoes. This will help your feet from getting hurt by sharp rocks and barnacles in Olympic National Park.
Hiking boots. The boots should have traction. The boots will help in keeping your feet dry and comfortable when hiking.
Binoculars. Olympic National Park is full of animal life. This gear will help you have excellent views of whales, seals, bald eagles and other animals while in the park.
Water bottles or hydration system. Although Olympic National Park tends to be wet while exploring the park, you may get dehydrated, and this may help prevent any headaches and severe conditions like heat cramps and heatstroke.
Headlamp. For easy visibility at night
Sunglass and sun hat. For protection against direct sunlight
For complete photos and videos of our trip visit our photos on our page
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Camp At Second Beach In Olympic Np
Added by Michael Matti
Second Beach is an easy 0.7-mile forested hike to the coastal camp. The beautiful coastline is accented with several large Seastacks. Campfires on the beachthat should be enough to make you want to go.
Second Beach is recognized as one of Olympic National Parks crown jewels, and its views and surroundings dont disappoint. It’s a great place to spend a night but it can also be done as just a day trip if you wish.
To access the beach, youll need to make an easy 0.7-mile with minimal elevation change . Once there, scout out a good spot along the beach to set up camp, and enjoy some of Washingtons most scenic coastline. Just make sure your spot is above where the high tide will rise to. At lower tides, explore the numerous tide pools and the Natural Arch at the northern end of the beach.
Depending on the time of year, the beach can get very crowded, but the beach is quite long, so you should be able to find a spot among the driftwood to pitch a tent even if it’s busy. You do need a wilderness camping permit to camp on the beach. This can be picked up at the Olympic National Park Visitors Center in Port Angeles. You can also pick up required bear cans there. Also keep in mind that there is no access to potable water.
In the evenings, this is an amazing spot to enjoy a stunning sunset. If youre just making this a quick trip, be sure to pack a flashlight or headlamp to help you get back to your car.
Klahhane Ridge To Lake Angeles
This is one of the best trails in Olympic National Park that span 12.4 miles with an elevation gain of 2,350 feet. Hiking in this trail is quite strenuous and suitable for only experienced hikers, plus it is a loop type trail. Hiking in this trail starts at Klahhane Ridge, and you will then head to Lake Angeles along the trail, it narrows, and you will find steep ascent and switchbacks that will take you through sub-alpine forests. You will see wildlife such as mountain goats, black bears and deer while hiking along this trail. During the summer, there are beautiful wildflowers along this trail in Olympic National Park.
Absolutely beautiful! Unbeatable panoramic views. We started at the switchback trailhead and ended right before the descent to the lake, which put us at about 5.5 miles roundtrip. Took us just under 4.5 hours not counting a lunch break at the top. Tough but definitely doable with water and breaks . Hiking poles were a great addition!
Someone below commented on the road being visible dont let that stop you. This isnt one of those hikes where you end up next to/heading a road. Its more like oh my god, look theres the road down there, I cant believe weve gone that far!
Length: 12.6 mi
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Hiking With The Tides
We had a tide table with us and knew we would have to time the tides the whole trip to safely pass certain areas of the hike. This timing turned out to be more complicated than we had imagined.
On the first leg of the trip, we reached the beach purposely at high tide, knowing that as it went out we would be able to make it all the way up to the Ozette river crossing, which we would reach around low tide. But when we finally reached the river we had to wait about an hour for actual low tide, and even then the river was about knee high, had a pretty swift current, and was freezing cold! We safely crossed the bone-chilling river and continued on our way.
Night one we camped at the Seafield Creek campsite and made it just as the sun was setting. It was beautiful. We were expecting to get plastered with rain the entire time, as thats usually what happens on the Olympic Coast in March, but it was unusually clear and starry.
We woke up and planned to be at Point of Arches by 10:30 in the morning, thinking that would give us plenty of time to round the point before the 1:30 high tide hit. The entire stretch around the point is impassable during high tide, and at one part you cant even get around at low tide, so you have to take an overland trail.
Jack Wolfskin Highland Trail Xt 60l Backpack
The Jack Wolfskin Highland Trail XT 60L Backpack is best for weekend to week-long get-aways. At 60 liters this pack is spacious and has generous pockets for stashing snacks, tripods, and just about anything you want to take with you. It is surprisingly durable , and due to the torso adjustments it would work as a pack for a growing teenager or anyone who likes sharing!
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See Big Trees Covered In Moss
Big Trees Covered in Moss are found in the Hall of Mosses Trail in Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park. This rainforest features mosses and fern that cover almost every tree and surface, giving it its lush green wonderland. Additionally, during your visit to this place while in Olympic National Park, you will find towering western redcedars, hemlocks, Douglas Firs, and Sitka Spruces, plus lichen. This Park is home to the biggest and tallest champion trees in the United States that are more than 150 feet. Further, there is an 8-mile loop trail along with the Hall of Mosses suitable for hiking. This is a good place in Olympic National Park to visit with kids.
What Native American Tribes Are In The Olympic Peninsula
Located on the Olympic Peninsula are 8 different Native American tribes. You can expect to find many cultural and historic structures around the area.
The most prominent Olympic Native American tribes include the Makah Tribe, Lower Elwha Klallam, Hoh, Quinault, Skokomish, Quileute, Jamestown Sklallam, and Port Gamble SKlallam.
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Other Campground On The Olympic Peninsula
Just because you want to visit Olympic National Park, doesnt mean you have to camp in the national park itself.
There are several amazing campgrounds near Olympic National Park. Many are just minutes outside of its boundaries. Some of these are small and remote to help you avoid crowds while others are full-blown RV parks.
Here are a few more of our favorite campgrounds on the Olympic Peninsula!
Sol Duc Falls Campsite
Sol Duc Falls is the crown jewel of this popular northwest region of the park. The nearby Sol Duc Falls Hot Springs also tends to draw a crowd. And for those looking into dipping their toes into backpacking, this iconic waterfall is the place to go.
The Sol Duc Falls backcountry campsite is just beyond its namesake feature, less than a mile from the trailhead. The path is relatively flat the entire way, with minimal undulation. This ease of access makes Sol Duc Falls a great introduction to backpacking.
This easy hike-in is often just an introduction for bigger backpacking trips. The route continues from Sol Duc Falls to access Deer Lake and the rest of the Seven Lakes Basin. This high-elevation landscape includes portions of the High Divide Trail â a true bucket-list backpacking route.
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Lake Crescent And Lake Quinault
This beautiful park is home to some beautiful lakes. The two famous lakes in Olympic National Park are Crescent Lake, located on its northern edge, and Lake Quinault, on the southwest corner. These lakes are a great place in Olympic National Park for kayaking, canoeing and even paddleboarding. If you want to get more details about this park, you can take a narrated scenic cruise. There are great spots for hiking, boating, and even camping in and around these two lakes. Some of the fish species found in these two lakes are the Beardslee and the Crescenti trout.
Shi Shi Beach Or Second Beach
Both Shi Shi Beach and Second Beach are beautiful destinations for a coastal camping trip. Which one you chose depends on the vibe youre looking for. In general, Shi Shi Beach feels more secluded, and you are more likely to find a quiet wilderness experience there. Second Beach, on the other hand, is more of a scene. The beach is easier to get to, smaller, and more people camp out in the open on the sand. As a result, Ive heard it described as a party beach at least in comparison to Shi Shi Beach. Ive personally never had that experience at Second Beach, but Ive also never been there on a weekend.
So I guess I would say that if you are looking for solitude, head to Shi Shi Beach. Hike all the way down toward Point of Arches, set up camp, and enjoy. Second Beach is an excellent option if youre new to backpacking or are looking for a quick, accessible beach camping experience. Sure, you might have to share the experience with other people, but that doesnt need to be a negative. Who knows, you might even make some new friends! Whichever beach you chose, leave it better than you found it, and respect your fellow campers right to enjoy a quiet night under the stars. That way everyone can have a good time!
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Olympic National Park Camping:
Altair – South of Port Angeles, WA
- Nearest city: Port Angeles: 13 miles , approx. 31 minutes away
- Forested along Elwha River
- Summer Day Use and Picnicking only – Altair Campground is now listed as permanently closed. Recent removals of the Glines and Elwha Dams have left a wide flat valley floor and an unstable course for the Elwha River. It is unknown whether camping will once again reopen once the Elwha carves out a more permanent river channel through the available space.
Deer Park – Southeast of Port Angeles, WA
- Nearest city: Port Angeles: 22 miles , approx. 46 minutes away
- Top of the mountain treeline with sub-alpine firs
- Primitive summer only
- Tents only, access not suitable for RVs/trailers
- No water vault toilets
Kalaloch – Along the Pacific coast directly off Highway 101
- Nearest city: Forks
- Distance from Port Angeles: 90.7 miles , 1 hour 52 minute drive
- Some nearby attractions: “Tree of life” near this campground, Ruby Beach, Forks attractions, Queets Rain Forest, Lake Quinault Rain Forest
- Year round, restrooms nearby
- Tents RV: generally up to 21′, some sites up to 35′, has dump station
- Online reservations for dates between mid-June and mid-September off-season is first come first served. Check Availability here.
- Ranger Station in summer only
South Beach – Southern-most beach in the Olympic National Park not far from Highway 101. Considered part of Kalaloch Beach. See Olympic National Park Beaches.
Hoh River To Blue Glacier On Mount Olympus
Distance: 36 miles out and back
Backcountry Campsite Reservations: Permits are required above Lewis Meadow and must be obtained at the Wilderness Information Centers.
Backcountry Camping Areas: 8
Recommended Days: 3-5
Hiking the Hoh to the base of Mount Olympus is yet another iconic hike in Olympic National Park, and for good reason. The trail works its way up the glacier-fed Hoh River, weaving through moss-draped old-growth forests, herds of elk, and neck deep ferns. Mostly flat for the first 12 miles, the path gives hikers a chance to see impressive valleys, waterfalls and even a the Mount Olympus Ranger Station. After Lewis Meadow, the trail climbs 3,000 feet in less than 4 miles to Glacier Meadows Camp, just a short trek to Blue Glacier and the route to climb Mount Olympus. This hike has it all, from rainforests to high aline lakes, glaciers and the peak of the tallest mountain in the Olympic Range, all along one incredibly beautiful and popular trail. Be aware, the best campsites fill up quickly, and reservations are needed to access the region in the non-winter months.
The Press Expedition Trail in the Quinault Rainforest. Image credit Doug Scott
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