10 Best Waterfalls in Olympic National Park | Forest

Nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest lies one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States: Olympic National Park. Home to windswept beaches, temperate rainforests, snow-capped mountain peaks, subalpine lakes – and beautiful waterfalls.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best waterfalls Olympic National Park has to offer.  

Join me as we take a journey through the best waterfalls in Olympic National Park and the adjacent Olympic National Forest and discover the magic of these breathtaking natural wonders.

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Best Waterfalls in Olympic National Park

The 10 Best Waterfalls in Olympic National Park | Forest

The waterfalls included here are all on the Olympic Peninsula.  Most are inside Olympic National Park, but a few of them are in Olympic National Forest. 

1. Sol Duc Falls

A wooden bridge above the river surrounded by rocks, trees, and various plants in Sol Duc Falls Olympic National Park

Height: 48 feet

Location: Olympic National Park, Sol Duc area

Sol Duc Falls is a triple waterfall that’s surrounded by towering trees, cascading waterways, and snowcapped peaks, making it the most popular waterfall in Olympic national park.

The hike there is also one of the best waterfall hikes in Olympic National Park. The 0.8-mile (each way) trail is relatively easy and takes visitors through a lush temperate forest before reaching a bridge that offers a great view of the falls.

The falls’ unique shape with three (or four after very heavy rains) streams, angled across the ravine they fall into, makes them a must-see attraction in the park. 

Best Time to Visit:

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.

READ MORE: Sol Duc Falls Guide


2. Marymere Falls

Three people beside the wooden railing surrounded by trees and other plants, and behind are waterfalls in Olympic National Park

Height: 90 feet

Location: Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent Lodge/ Storm King Ranger Station area

The short (1.7 miles round trip) trail to this beautiful waterfall is a very popular Olympic National Park waterfall hike.  

The falls are situated in a lush forest, surrounded by towering trees, ferns, and moss-covered rocks. The waterfall is fed by a small stream that drops 90 feet into a small pool at the base of the falls.

There are two viewing areas – the lower viewing area has the clearest view, and the upper viewing area peers through the trees where you can see the lower viewing area as well as the waterfall.

Best Time to Visit: 

The falls are particularly beautiful in the spring and early summer when the surrounding foliage is lush and green, and the flow of water is at its strongest. However, the falls flow year-round.

READ MORE: Marymere Falls Guide


3. Salmon Cascades

A close photo of waterfalls in Sol Duc Salmon Cascades, Olympic National Park

Height: 13 feet

Location: Olympic National Park, Sol Duc area (about 5 miles from the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort)

Salmon Cascades is not the biggest waterfall in Olympic National Park but it’s a unique waterfall in that it’s primarily known for the salmon that swim up it, rather than the waterfall itself.

The set of small cascading waterfalls is a popular spot to watch salmon swimming upstream to spawn. A very short trail leads from a small parking area to a viewing platform that’s located above the falls. In season, you can see salmon jumping up this gushing waterfall as they return to the place they were born to lay or fertilize their own eggs.

It’s also possible to climb down nearby rocks to a pool just below the falls (do so at your own risk and take great care if you decide to do this).  There is a clear view of the falls from below and you can also see a large pool of calm water where schools of salmon hang out as they gather energy for the big push. 

While the falls are relatively small, the sight of the determined fish leaping up the cascades is truly awe-inspiring.

Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit Salmon Cascades is during the late summer and early fall when the salmon are making their way upstream or in March-April when trout do the same thing.

READ MORE: Salmon Cascades Guide


4. Madison Falls (Madison Creek Falls)

Waterfalls in Olympic National Park and surrounded by trees and plants, and below are rocks and tree logs.

Height: 45 feet

Location: Olympic National Park, Elwha Valley area 

Madison Falls is a picturesque waterfall located in Elwha, Olympic National Park.  

The falls, which are reached by a very short (0.1-mile round trip) walk from the parking lot, drop almost 50 feet and are surrounded by lush greenery and towering trees.

While not the most spectacular waterfall Olympic National Park has, it’s a great destination if you who want to experience the beauty of Olympic National Park without having to go on a strenuous hike. It’s a great option for families with young children or anyone who has difficulty with hiking.

Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit Madison Falls is during the spring and early summer when the flow of water is at its strongest, and the surrounding foliage is lush and green.


5. Mineral Creek Falls

Trees, ferns, and other plants, and behind is a waterfall in Olympic National Park

Height: 66 feet

Location: Olympic National Park, Hoh Rainforest area

Mineral Creek Falls is one of the most-visited Hoh Rainforest waterfalls.  The falls are nestled in the middle of the Hoh Rain Forest, surrounded by ferns, enormous evergreen trees, and moss-covered maples.  They are reached by hiking for 2.7 miles (each way) along the Hoh River Trail from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. 

The falls are not the most spectacular waterfalls you’ll ever see – but the hike to get there and the surrounding temperate rainforest are nothing short of breathtaking. 

When you get to the falls, there is a poorly marked side trail that climbs up to the falls themselves, though the slightly more distant views from below, on the main trail, are almost as good.

Best Time to Visit:

The falls are their fullest in spring and early summer, though the trail there can be muddy at that of year.

READ MORE: Hoh River Trail Guide


6. Bunch Creek Falls

Rocks, trees, and other plants surround waterfalls in Olympic National Park.

Height: 60 feet

Location: Olympic National Park, Lake Quinault area

Bunch Creek Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in the Quinault Rain Forest, just inside the national park.  It’s one of two Lake Quinault waterfalls on the Lake Quinault scenic loop drive. 

The 60-foot waterfalls drops over several levels into a small pool of water that you can walk up to.  There are moss and ferns surrounding the falls and large boulders around the pool.

If you’re driving the Lake Quinault loop clockwise, the falls are just after the bridge as you start back on the South Shore Road.  It’s very near the road on the left (heading towards Lake Quinault Lodge) but is easy to miss.  Park on the side of the road with care. 

The falls are among the most photographed water features in the area due to their accessibility; however, the rocks can be slippery, so if you venture closer to the falls than the road, be sure to wear sturdy shoes and be careful when exploring the area.

Best Time to Visit:

As with all these waterfalls, they are their fullest in late spring and early summer.  Keep in mind that the scenic loop drive is partly unpaved, so be careful after rain. The falls are beautiful year-round.

READ MORE: Lake Quinault Scenic Loop Drive


7. Merriman Falls

Waterfalls surrounded by trees and rocks in Olympic National Park

Height: 40 feet

Location: Olympic National Forest, Lake Quinault area

The waterfall is not that big, but its setting is hard to beat.  It’s also located along the Lake Quinault scenic loop drive, on the South Shore Road, inside Olympic National Forest.  

Keep a careful eye out for the falls as you are driving the loop, as they are easy to miss.  You need to park along either side of the road.

You can see the waterfall from the road, but there is a better view if you walk a few yards into the forest to the bottom of the waterfall.  

It’s a horsetail waterfall, meaning that the water maintains contact with the bedrock as it flows over the edge. This creates a stunning, fan-like effect that is lovely to see in person.

Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit Merriman Falls is during the spring and early summer months, when the snowmelt causes the waterfall to flow at its fullest. However, the falls are beautiful year-round.

READ MORE: Lake Quinault Scenic Loop Drive


8. Murhut Falls

Green plants surround waterfall, and below are tree logs and rocks in Olympic National Park

Height: 153 feet

Location: Olympic National Forest, Duckabush River area (eastern side of Olympic Peninsula)

Located on the drier eastern side, Murhut Falls are a surprise because they are some of the most spectacular waterfalls Olympic Peninsula has to see.

This stunning waterfall is located in the Olympic National Forest. To get to Murhut Falls, you need to take the Murhut Creek Road off of Highway 101, which is approximately 2 miles north of the Hamma Hamma Recreation Area. There is a small parking lot.  From there, a 0.8-mile trail goes through second growth forest before arriving at the falls, which are surrounded by enormous old growth trees. 

The 153-foot falls plunge over a cliff in several tiers into a pool below, changing direction half-way down.  This multi-layered effect, surrounded by lush greenery and often semi-blocked by enormous tree trunks, is very dramatic. 

Best Time to Visit:

Late spring and early summer.  The road is open year-round, but this is weather dependent. 


9. Rocky Brook Falls

Water flowing in rocks from above surrounded by trees in Olympic National Park

Height: 345 feet

Location: Olympic National Forest, Hood Canal Ranger District

Rocky Brook Falls is 345 feet in total, but this happens over four tiers.  The upper three tiers aren’t visible because of the shape of the gorge and because they are on private property so you can’t climb to them.  

However, the 239-foot lowest tier is awesome.  It’s a veiling horsetail fall – meaning that it clings to the rock face the whole way and fans out into a veil of water as it descends into a large pool at its base.

The falls are reached by a short 200-yard walk from a small parking area.

Best Time to Visit:

Summer is a great time to visit because, unlike the other falls listed here, you can swim in the pool at the base of the falls.  This is a great spot to cool off on a hot summer day.  Plus, Rocky Brook is semi-diverted for hydroelectricity, so, although the falls do get bigger after rains, the effect is not as significant as it is for other waterfalls on the Olympic Peninsula. 


10. Wynoochee Falls

Waterfalls in the middle of the huge rocks surrounded by trees, and below is a wide plunge pool of waterfall in Olympic National Park

Height: 38 feet

Location: Olympic National Forest, Hood Canal Ranger District

The falls drop in two main tiers, changing direction between tiers.  The upper tier is 26 feet and the lower tier 12 feet.  The falls end in a large pool. 

Enormous tree trunks often get wedged in the rocks around the falls, changing the shape of the falls.  Heavy rains can dislodge them, so you never know exactly what you’ll find when you visit. 

To get to the falls, drive along an old road to the former Wynoochee Falls campground and then hike 0.25 miles each way on a wide trail.  You’ll need to climb down a narrower trail to a wide gravel bar at the base of the falls that makes a perfect spot for a picnic. 

Best Time to Visit:

Late spring to early summer.  The falls are fullest in spring.  By late in summer, the flow can be so small that the upper tier becomes difficult to see. However, the pool at the bottom is a nice spot to wade and bathe, so early summer is a nice time to take advantage of this. 


Olympic National Park Waterfalls Map


Tips for Visiting Waterfalls

Visiting waterfalls is a popular activity in Olympic National Park. Here are some tips to help make your experience safe and enjoyable:

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit waterfalls in Olympic National Park is during the spring and early summer months when the water flow is at its highest. However, this can also be the busiest time of year, so plan accordingly. If you prefer to avoid crowds, consider visiting in the fall or winter when there are fewer visitors.

Safety Precautions

Waterfalls can be dangerous, so it’s important to take precautions to ensure your safety:

  • Stay on designated trails and obey all warning signs.
  • Do not climb on rocks or get too close to the edge of the falls.
  • Wear appropriate footwear with good traction and bring rain gear.
  • Be aware of changing weather conditions and flash floods.
  • Do not swim in the pools at the base of the falls.

FAQS about Olympic National Park Waterfalls

What are the best waterfalls to visit in Olympic National Park?

Olympic National Park has many beautiful waterfalls to see, but some of the most popular ones include:
– Sol Duc Falls 
– Marymere Falls
– Madison Creek Falls
– Salmon Cascades 
Each waterfall has its own unique beauty and charm, so it’s worth visiting as many as you can while you’re in the park.

How do I get to the waterfalls?

Most of the waterfalls in Olympic National Park can be accessed by hiking.
Some waterfalls, like Madison Falls, are easily accessible a short walk from the parking lot and others like Bunch Falls and Merriman Falls can be seen from the road side.
However, others, like Sol Duc Falls, require a longer hike to reach.
Make sure to check the trail conditions and difficulty level before embarking on any hikes.

When is the best time to visit the waterfalls in Olympic National Park?

The best time to visit the waterfalls in Olympic National Park is in the spring and early summer when the snow is melting and the water levels are high. However, none of the falls dry up completely, so they can be enjoyed year round.

Are there any safety precautions I should take when visiting the waterfalls?

Yes, it’s important to always stay on designated trails and follow posted signs and warnings. The rocks around the waterfalls can be slippery and dangerous, so it’s important to exercise caution and wear appropriate footwear.


Travel Insurance for Olympic National Park

No matter which waterfalls you choose to see, you should definitely get travel insurance for your trip.  This can protect you not only against medical and emergency repatriation, but can also 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 these waterfalls!

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Best Waterfalls in Olympic National Park

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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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