Frequently Asked Questions

Olympic marmot
An Olympic marmot

Ken and Mary Campbell

Do I need to make reservations to visit Olympic National Park?
No, you don't need reservations to visit Olympic National Park. However, if you plan to spend the night in or around the park, you should have reservations for lodging, camping, or backpacking. In the summer months, especially on the weekends, campgrounds and motels can fill quickly. If you know your travel dates, making advance reservations is a good idea during the busiest months in the summer.

How do I get to Olympic National Park?
You can find driving directions on the Directions and Transportation page. Highway 101 is the main road that runs around most of the Olympic Peninsula.

What is there to see and do in Olympic National Park?
Explore our Things to Do page to find the perfect activities for your visit! You can travel from alpine peaks to temperate rain forest to the Pacific Ocean and tidepools all in one trip, although having more than one day to spend in the park is a good idea. Remember that it can take anywhere from a half hour to four hours or more to travel between different areas of the park. Give yourself extra driving time to get places, especially if you are catching a flight at the airport. Rush hour traffic around Seattle and Tacoma is intense, and Highway 101 is one lane in each direction, making for slower travel at times.

When is the best time of year to visit Olympic National Park?
It depends what you're looking for! While most people visit during summer, there are unique things things to see when visiting at other times throughout the year. You can find more information on our Plan Your Visit page.

What is the nearest airport and how can I get to the park without a car?
The closest major airport is Seattle-Tacoma International. Unfortunately, most of Olympic is not accessible by public transportation. Rental cars are an option. Please note that celluar access is spotty throughout the park. Some areas, such as the Hoh Rain Forest and the beaches, have little to no reception. Rental cars that use a cellular signal to unlock the doors are not a good idea to choose for visiting Olympic, as you may find yourself without cell service, and unable to unlock or start your vehicle.

How do I avoid the long lines to get into Hurricane Ridge or the Hoh Rain Forest?
Plan your visit to the most popular areas for earlier or later in the day. Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh Rain Forest have lines in the summer, especially on weekends. Waits can be an hour or two to get in. Parking at Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach is also challenging in the summer. The park is open twenty four hours, so arriving earlier or later can help you avoid the lines and have a more relaxing experience. At the summer solstice, you will have daylight from 5am to nearly 10pm, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the park. Consider visiting in May or September, because even though the park is still busy, the lines are shorter during these months.

Where can I go to see elk?
Roosevelt elk are observed throughout the year at the Hoh rain forest. Wildlife is often more easily observed at dawn and dusk. Elk can be hard to spot in the dense forest, but sometimes can be observed in meadows and clearings along park roads. Remember to stay at least 100ft away from all wildlife. Elk can be particularly aggressive when defending calves, and during the rut in September and early October.

Do you have a question that's not answered here? Send us an e-mail and we'll consider adding it to this list.

Last updated: November 12, 2023

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