10 Best Views In Olympic National Park: Complete Guide to the Top Scenic Spots

Olympic National Park has stunning natural beauty, including snow-capped mountains, lush temperate rainforests, tranquil lakes, dramatic waterfalls, and rugged coastline. For those seeking awe-inspiring views, Olympic National Park does not disappoint.

With so many incredible vistas to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide what should you not miss in Olympic National Park. 

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best Olympic National Park viewpoints. Whether you’re planning a day trip or a longer stay, these scenic spots are sure to leave you in awe of the natural beauty of Olympic National Park.

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10 Best Views in Olympic National Park

Essential Equipment for Olympic Photography

Before we look at the best spots in Olympic National Park for photos, first a quick look at some essential equipment you’ll need.

1. A camera (or camera phone)

Olympic National Park is a photographer’s dream. I often just use my iPhone and this is OK for vacation snaps, but if you’re serious about photography, you’ll want to have a real camera with all the bells and whistles, and you’ll certainly take better photos than I do.  A good choice is a  Sony A6400 camera.

2. A tripod

For photos in the early morning or late afternoon, a tripod is essential for long exposure shots. 

Since you need to hike to some of these viewpoints, a Gorillapod tripod can be a handy alternative to a traditional tripod.  It’s small, light and flexible, and can be set up on all types of uneven surfaces.  They sell them for regular cameras and cell phones.

Check out prices for regular camera Gorillapods here and for cell phone Gorillapods here.

3. A wide-angle lens and a zoom lens

If you’re taking photos on your cell phone, it can be helpful to get a wider angle lens than phones come with in order to capture the more expansive views.

You can get a set of a 0.45x wide-angle lens and a 15x macro lens for close ups. It’s compatible with all single and dual-camera phones including all iPhone models, Samsung Galaxy and Note, Google Pixel, Huawei and more. Check prices on Amazon here.

If you’re using your phone camera, the digital zoom on a camera phone gives the illusion of getting close, but then when you look at the photos later, they are not at all clear.  An optical zoom is much better.

For a zoom lens, check out this 60x telephoto lens.  It is super powerful and works with all cell phones. Check out prices on Amazon here.

4. Binoculars or Spotting Scope

Your trip doesn’t need to be all about just the photos. Sometimes it’s good just to soak in the views. A good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope is a great investment for this trip.

The best binoculars for the money are the Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 Roof Prism Binoculars.  They are reasonably priced and come with a carry case.    Check them out on Amazon here.

Because I take binoculars on all of my trips, I’ve done extensive research into the best binoculars. These detailed guides include helpful info on what to look for, detailed reviews of the best of the best, and recommendations based on what exactly you will use them for and your price range:

Additional help with your Olympic National Park trip planning:

>> Olympic National Park Travel Guide
>> The Best Olympic National Park Beaches 
>> Rialto Beach – Hole In The Wall
>> Best Lake Quinault Rainforest Hikes
>> Best Hoh Rainforest Hikes 
>> Best Sol Duc Hikes 
>> Best Lake Crescent Hikes 
>> Best Hurricane Ridge Hikes 
>> Guide to Visiting Hurricane Ridge
>> Best Waterfalls in Olympic National Park

The Best Views in Olympic National Park

Olympic Beaches

Olympic National Park’s coastline stretches for 73 miles, and is some of the most dramatic scenery in the entire country.  Rocky headlands, windswept beaches, fascinating tidepools nurturing a living rainbow of colors and textures, craggy off shore sea stacks topped by nesting seabirds and wind-sheared, tree-sized driftwood – all are a remnant of a wilder America. 

Here are three of the most scenic beaches to visit:

1. Rialto Beach

A huge sea stack is seen in the hole of a huge boulder in Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park.

The view

Rialto Beach is one of the best places to visit in Olympic National Park for dramatic scenery.   There are several sea stacks off shore and on the beach, but the highlight is The Hole in The Wall

This is a natural arch carved by wind and waves in a rocky headland about 1.6 miles along the beach from the parking lot. 

Walk through the arch then turn around.  When you’re about 20 yards or so from the arch, there is a craggy sea stack perfectly framed in the center of the Hole in the Wall.

Best time to take photos

You’ll need to time your visit around the tides, as you can only walk through the Hole in the Wall at low tide.  

How to get there

Rialto Beach is located just outside the town of La Push. Take Highway 101 to the turnoff for Mora Road. The road is about 10 miles west of Forks, and from there, it’s a short drive to the parking lot. The beach is accessible via a short trail from the parking lot. Hole in the Wall is about 1.6 miles north (turn right when you get to the beach) of the parking lot.


  • Time your visit for about 30 minutes before low tide so you also have time to explore the tidepools in the area. 
  • Note the entrance/ exit to the beach so you recognize it when you return. After you’ve followed the short path from the parking lot to the beach, turn around and notice how the area looks from the beach.  This will help you identify where to return to your car after the hike.

READ MORE:  Rialto Beach – Hole in the Wall Guide

2. Second Beach

The view

Second Beach offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, sea stacks, and the surrounding forests. The views here are some of the best of Olympic National Park.

There are several great views.  As you enter the beach, the view of the sea stacks in front of you with enormous driftwood in the foreground is stunning.  

There are several sea stacks off shore and to the right, a headland with a natural arch.  At low tide, there is often a thin coating of water along the beach, which creates a perfect reflection of the sea stacks with the Quillayute Needles archipelago behind them, creating the perfect Instagram moment.

Best time to take photos

The best time of day to take photos of the view from Second Beach is during sunrise and sunset.  Olympic National Park is especially beautiful in the morning, with soft colors and a bluish haze.  In the evening, the sky and reflected waters can turn a golden blaze of color.  

How to get there

To get to Second Beach, take Highway 101 to the turnoff for La Push Road. The road is about 14 miles west of Forks, and from there, it’s a short drive to the parking lot. The beach is accessible via a 0.7-mile trail from the parking lot.


  • Dress in layers as the weather can be unpredictable. If you need a rain/ wind jacket, I like this Columbia rain jacket for men and this Little Donkey Andy rain jacket for women.
  • Wear shoes suitable for walking on sand and rocks.  There are rock pools along the beach, but you need good shoes to protect your feet. If you need to get some, take a look at my Guide to Buying the Best Hiking Shoes/ Boots to help you know what to look for and get some recommendations.  My top pick is this pair of Salomon Gore-Tex boots.
  • Time your visit for low tide. You can hike along part of the beach at high tide, but if you want to explore the rock pools, you’ll need to visit at low tide.  Plan to arrive at the beach at least 30 minutes before the lowest tide so you have sufficient time to spend there before your return hike.

READ MORE: Second Beach Guide

3. Ruby Beach

The view

Ruby Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Olympic National Park. The beach is named after the ruby-like crystals you can find in the beach sand.  However, it’s best known for its scenic sea stacks, tide pools, and massive driftwood. 

There are several places along Ruby Beach that have stunning views.  Several sea stacks on and just off the beach to the right / northern end of the beach are extremely photogenic.  Piles of driftwood make a perfect foreground for photos.

However, my favorite view of Ruby Beach is before you get to the beach.  There is a viewpoint on the trail from the parking lot to the beach where you peer through the trees and can see the driftwood-strewn beach with several sea stacks off shore and a trail of a long sandy tidal pool in the foreground.  And all framed by trees from the surrounding forest. It’s a stunning view you will never forget.

Best time to take photos

The beach is best seen – and visited – at low tide.  The best time of day to take photos of the view from – and of – Ruby Beach is during sunrise and sunset when the colors of the sky reflect on the water and create a magical atmosphere.   So, if low tide is at sunset or sunrise, you’re in for a real treat!

How to get there

To get to Ruby Beach, take Highway 101 to the turnoff for Ruby Beach Road. The road is about 10 miles south of Forks, and from there, it’s a short drive to the parking lot. The beach is easily accessible from the parking lot, and there are signs to guide you.


READ MORE: Best Beaches in Olympic National Park

Mountains and Peaks

Dozens of peaks form the Olympic Mountains.  The main mountainous section of Olympic National Park you can easily visit is Hurricane Ridge.  Snow-capped peaks and panoramic views stretching to the horizon make this one of the most popular sections of Olympic National Park.

4. Hurricane Ridge

Wildflowers and trees in slopy hills and behind are mountains surrounded by clouds in Hurricane Hill.

The view

Get your camera ready.  Hurricane Ridge is one of the best places in Olympic National Park for breathtaking mountain views.  From here, you can see Mount Olympus, the highest peak in the park, as well as other prominent peaks such as Mount Angeles and Mount Deception.

Although you can see mountains from the main parking lot area, for the best view of Olympic Mountains, you should hike the trails.  There are several Hurricane Ridge hikes with various levels of difficulty – but all have great views.

The view from the Cirque Rim Overlook has panoramic views of the mountains and, on a clear day, the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

However, my favorite views are on the Hurricane Hill Trail.  There are several alpine meadows that are covered in beautiful wildflowers in summer.  The views of colorful blooms in the foreground and snow-capped mountains behind are hard to beat.

Best time to take photos

The view is especially beautiful during sunrise and sunset when the colors of the sky reflect on the mountains. This spot arguably has the best sunrise in Olympic National Park.

How to get there

To get to Hurricane Ridge, take Hurricane Ridge Road from Port Angeles.  The drive is about 17 miles and takes about 45 – 60 minutes. 


  • You want to be at Hurricane Ridge on a clear day to enjoy the views.  Conditions at Hurricane Ridge are often very different from those below in Port Angeles.  It can be cloudy in Port Angeles, but Hurricane Ridge can be above the clouds.  Or it can be lovely in Port Angeles, but shrouded in fog or super windy at Hurricane Ridge.  To see what the weather is like you check the Hurricane Rudge webcams that the National Park Service has set up at the top of the mountain.
  • Hurricane Ridge gets its name from the fierce winds that usually blow there.  The wind can be chilly even in summer. I recommend taking a wind breaker. If you need one, I like this Columbia windbreaker for men and this Little Donkey Andy windbreaker for women.
  • You may encounter black bears on the trails, especially early summer and fall.  Be bear aware and carry bear spray or a bear bell just in case.

READ MORE: Hurricane Hill Trail Guide | High Ridge Trail Guide | Cirque Rim Trail Guide

Lowland Rivers and Lakes

There are several valleys carved by rivers between the mountains and lakes dotted through the lush lowland forests.  Beautiful waterfalls drop down the rivers and creeks and waters sparkle in the summer sunshine.

5. Sol Duc Falls

Waterfalls surrounded by rocks and trees in Sol Duc Falls Olympic National Park

The view

Sol Duc Falls are the most famous waterfalls in Olympic National Park. Reached at the end of a 0.8-mile hike, there is a wide bridge over the Sol Duc River. 

From the bridge, there’s a great view of the narrow gorge that the waterfall drops into, plus the three of four strands of the waterfall.  

The river takes a 90-degree turn as it drops over the falls in three strands (four when the water volume is highest in spring) across the ravine, then angles back to the original direction.  This unique shape makes it one of the most iconic views in Olympic National Park.

There are a series of fenced viewpoints along the ravine on the other side of the bridge that also provide great views of the falls.

Best time to take photos

The best time of day to take photos of Sol Duc Falls is during the morning or late afternoon when the light is soft and the colors are more vibrant. The falls are beautiful any time of the year, but are at their fullest in spring.

How to get there

To get to Sol Duc Falls, take Highway 101 to the Sol Duc Trailhead at end of Sol Duc Road.  The trail is about 1.6 miles round trip and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.

You can also combine this with the Lover’s Lane Trail by starting at the Sol Duc Hot Springs or at the Sol Duc Campground and follow a trail from there that connects just after the start of the main Sol Duc Trail. 


  • The best time to visit Sol Duc Falls is during the spring and early summer months when the snow melt creates a more powerful flow and the surrounding foliage is especially lush and green. However, the falls can also be enjoyed year-round and are also really beautiful during the fall when the leaves change color.
  • Wear good hiking boots or shoes. The trail is easy to follow, but it does have uneven sections with rocks and roots across the trail, and you’ll be much more comfortable if you have good quality hiking shoes or boots. If you need to get some, take a look at my Guide to Buying the Best Hiking Shoes/ Boots to help you know what to look for and get some recommendations.  

READ MORE: Sol Duc Falls Trail Guide

6. Marymere Falls

Falls surrounded by logs and rocks covered with mosses in Lake Crescent Olympic National Park

The view

Marymere Falls is another beautiful waterfall in Olympic National Park.  The falls drop 90 feet into a clear pool, surrounded by lush greenery.

After crossing Barnes Creek, the trail starts a somewhat steep, one-way loop. There are two viewpoints.  You peer through a clearing in the trees to see the horsetail waterfall plunge over a tiered cliff face into a small pool at the bottom.  

The lower viewpoint has a clearer view of the falls.  The upper viewpoint looks down in to the lower viewpoint as well as the waterfall. 

Best time to take photos

The falls are beautiful any time of the day, but early morning and late afternoon will have a lot fewer people at the viewpoints, making it easier to enjoy the view. 

How to get there

To get to Marymere Falls, take Highway 101 to the Storm King Ranger Station or nearby Lake Crescent Lodge, located about 20 miles west of Port Angeles.  You can park in the lot at either location – there are two trailheads.  The trails soon converge and head to a short loop to two viewpoints.  


  • Wear comfortable shoes suitable for hiking
  • The falls have water all year, but they’re at their fullest in early spring.
  • The loop to the viewpoints is not accessible. If you’re traveling with young kids, I’d take a hiking baby carrier for this section.  If you’re looking to buy one, check out my guide to The Best Baby Carriers for Hiking, or get my top pick here.

READ MORE: Marymere Falls Trail Guide

7. Lake Crescent

The view

Lake Crescent is one of the most picturesque lakes in Olympic National Park. The crystal-clear water is surrounded by mountains and forests, providing a stunning backdrop for a day of swimming, kayaking, or hiking. 

There are several places around the lake that have particularly stunning views.  My two personal favorites are Barnes Point near Lake Crescent Lodge and the water’s edge at Fairholme Campground.

Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park is a historic lodge located on the shores of Lake Crescent. There is a short jetty at the lodge itself where you can go swimming (it’s chilly).  There is an enclosed patio at the lodge with large picture windows that provide lovely views of the lake while you enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine.  

However, it’s just a short walk to nearby Barnes Point. It’s one of the closest points to the opposite shore, which helps frame the view of the grasses and trees in the foreground and the hills surrounding the sparking blue lake.

My other favorite view is along a path that runs along the lakeshore near some walk-in campsites at Fairholme Campground.  It’s at the far end of the crescent-shaped lake, so you can see along the length of the lake, with the hills on both sides. 

Log in the lake and behind are trees and mountain in Crescent Lake Olympic National Park

Best time to take photos

The lake is lovely when the sun is shining and the waters sparkle.  However, sunset on a still day is especially magical when the colors are reflected in the lake. 

How to get there

To get to Lake Crescent Lodge, you need to take Highway 101 to the west end of Lake Crescent. The lodge is located at 416 Lake Crescent Road, Olympic National Park, WA 98363. There is ample parking available at the lodge, and the view is easily accessible from the main lodge building.


  • Stay at the lodge or campground to fully experience the beauty of the lake and the surrounding area
  • You can swim in the lake on a warm day or rent a kayak at the lodge for different views of the lake.

READ MORE: Lake Crescent Hikes

Temperate Rain Forest

Olympic National Park is home to some of the most stunning rainforests in the world. These lush, green forests are teeming with life and offer visitors a chance to explore some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Pacific Northwest. 

Here are three of the best rainforest views in Olympic National Park:

8. Hall of Mosses

Hoh Rainforest Hikes small road surrounded by mossy trees and other plants

The view

The Hall of Mosses is one of the most unique and magical places in Olympic National Park. 

The Hall of Mosses is an enchanting glade of moss-covered, twisted Bigleaf Maple Trees.   It’s a short, easy 0.8-mile loop through a forest filled with towering trees and a thick layer of moss covering everything in sight. Along the way, you’ll see ferns, lichens, and other plants that thrive in this unique ecosystem. 

For the best view, about half-way along the loop, there is a short spur trail.  At the end of this trail are the most fantastical trees with the heaviest coatings of moss draping off the twisted limbs.  

Best time to take photos

The best time of day to take photos of the view in Hall of Mosses is during the early morning when the light is soft and the moss glows in the soft light. Late afternoon is also beautiful.

How to get there

To get to Hall of Mosses, take Highway 101 to the Hoh Rainforest turnoff.  Drive the Upper Hoh Road to the end and park at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. From there, it’s a short walk to the trailhead. 


  • The Hoh Rain Forest can be very crowded in summer.  There is some parking allowed on the side of the road near the Visitor Center in addition to the official parking lot, but when the entire area is at capacity, the rangers hold all traffic at the entrance station and only let one vehicle in when another leaves.  The wait time can be more than an hour at peak times.  Get there before 8:00AM in summer to avoid having to wait.
  • Check current road conditions before you set out. Trees sometimes fall down and block the road for a few hours.

READ MORE: Hall of Mosses Trail Guide

9. Hoh River Trail

Two people walking through a small road surrounded by mossy trees and ferns in Hoh River Trail Olympic National Park

The view

The Hoh River Trail is also in the Hoh Rainforest.  The entire trail is 17.3 miles long and takes you through old-growth forests, past waterfalls, and along the Hoh River. This hike is more challenging than the Hall of Mosses, but the views are well worth the effort and there are a lot fewer people.

I actually think the views here are even better than the more famous Hall of Mosses.  There are several glades within the first couple of miles where trees tower way above you, enormous ferns at their base.  There are also moss-draped Bigleaf Maple trees and even some glimpses of the Hoh River.  

I don’t have one favorite view here – but some of the glades are truly magical.  Find a log to sit on and soak on the incredible scenery all around you!

Best time to take photos

The best time of day to take photos of the view on Hoh River Trail is during the morning or late afternoon when the light is soft and the colors are more vibrant.

How to get there

To get to the Hoh River Trail, take Highway 101 to the Hoh Rainforest turnoff.  Drive the Upper Hoh Road to the end and park at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. From there, it’s a short walk to the trailhead.


  • Get to the Hoh Rain Forest before 8:00AM if you’re visiting in the busy summer months.  This is a very popular part of the park and when there is no more parking available, the rangers hold traffic at the entrance station and only let a vehicle enter when another one leaves.
  • Popular places to turn back include:
    • First River Access: 0.9 miles each way | 1.8 miles total
    • Mineral Creek Falls: 2.7 miles each way | 5.4 miles total
    • Cedar Grove: 4.0 miles each way | 8.0 miles total
    • Five Mile Island: 5 miles each way | 10.0 miles return

READ MORE: Hoh River Trail Guide

10. Maple Glade Rain Forest Trail, Quinault

Small road surrounded by mossy trees, ferns, and other trees in Kestner Homestead - Maple Glade Olympic National Park.

The view

The Hoh Rainforest gets most of the glory, but the nearby Quinault Rain Forest is just as beautiful with a whole lot fewer people.  A short 0.8-mile loop goes through the awe-inspiring Maple Glade.

This glade of Bigleaf Maple trees belongs in a Dr. Seuss book. The limbs twist and turn, draped in glowing moss.  Swampy lowlands fill with water in the rainy season and turn into lush grassy glades in the summer. Gigantic ferns compete with fallen nurse logs and colorful lichens for your attention.

There are so many incredible views in the glade – almost every turn of the trail comes with another view worthy of Instagram.

Best time to take photos

The light in Maple Glade is best early morning, when the sunlight makes the moss glow.

How to get there

To get to the Maple Glade Trail, take Highway 101 to the start of the North Loop Road.  From there, it’s a short drive to the Quinault Rain Forest Visitor Center. The trailhead is across from the Visitor Center. The trail is a 0.8-mile loop and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.


  • You can combine this trail with the Kestner Homestead Trail, as they are connected.
  • Because most of the annual precipitation is in winter, the rain forest can be a little dry looking by early fall.  There’s not much you can do about this other than to adjust your expectations or the timing of your trip.  Though even in September, it’s stunning.
  • These hikes can be accessed along the Lake Quinault Loop Drive.  Read my guide to this scenic drive for more information.

READ MORE: Maple Glade Loop Trail | Kestner Homestead Loop Trail Guide

Map of the Best Photo Spots in Olympic National Park

Tips for Taking Olympic National Park Photos

  1. If you’re planning to take sunrise or sunset photos, get there well in advance. These viewpoints are popular and you want to be able to secure a spot. Check the sunrise and sunset times for Olympic National Park here
  2. Try to be there for Golden Hour – the hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise. 
  3. If you’re there for sunset, don’t leave as soon as the sun sets. The best color in the sky/ clouds is after the sun sets.  
  4. Stay for Blue Hour – after the sun has set when the sky forms a dark blue backdrop for photos.  
  5. Use a long exposure selection on your camera.
  6. Take a tripod to photograph sunrise and sunset. If you need to hike in, consider a simple tripod like a Gorillapod
  7. It can be chilly in the morning even during summer months.  Although summer is the driest season, much of the national park is temperate rain forest, so it does rain.  Hurricane Ridge is especially windy – and gets very snowy in winter.  Even the beaches are often windswept and misty.  Dress warmly and dress in layers.
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10 Best Views in Olympic National Park

Travel Insurance for Olympic National Park  

You should definitely get travel insurance for any trip you take.  This can protect you against medical and emergency repatriation, as well as cover things like trip cancellation, loss and/ or theft of property, etc.

A great insurance option is Travelex.  It has coverage for all you’ll need. You can choose the best travel insurance plan for your trip here or get a quote right now:

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Enjoy the best views Olympic National Park has!

What are your picks for the most beautiful places in Olympic National Park?  Are there any other top attractions in Olympic National Park not listed here?  I’d love to hear about them.  Join my private Facebook group National Parks Collectors and comment and let me know (you can also pick up extra planning tips, share your photos and stories with other national park lovers and more).

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About the Author

James Ian Yosemite

James Ian is a national park, camping and hiking expert.

He has dedicated his life to travel, visiting more than 80 countries, all 7 continents and all of the main national parks in the United States. With over 35 years experience in the travel industry, James has worked on cruise ships, at resorts and hotels, and as a travel planner who’s helped hundreds of people plan successful trips to US national parks. 

Based on his experience visiting our national parks multiple times, in-depth research and expertise as a travel planner, James has published detailed itineraries for most of the major national parks in the US. These itineraries, as well as in-depth park guides, comprehensive camping and hiking gear reviews and buying guides, and helpful packing lists and gift guides will help you have your own incredible trip to US national parks without stress and hassle.

As a national park expert, James has contributed to many publications, including Time Business News, Savoteur, Best Trip, and Wired.

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