How To Get to Olympic National Park: Complete Guide

Washington’s Olympic National Park is truly stunning. Located on the Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest, this World Heritage Site and UN International Biosphere Reserve has several distinct and diverse ecosystems to explore. 

Olympic National Park is huge, so you’ll need to decide exactly where in the park you want to travel. The park has plenty of scenic sights including the Hurricane Ridge mountains, Sol Duc Falls, the Hoh Rain Forest, ocean beaches, and more.  

There are several options for getting to Olympic National Park, depending on which area(s) of the park you want to see.  If you’re planning how to see Olympic National Park, this guide is here to help you.  Let’s take a look. 

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If you are planning to visit Olympic National Park in spring, summer or fall, make your planning easy and stress free with a detailed itinerary. I have 1-, 2-, 3 and 4-day itineraries for Olympic National Park that include all the park highlights, give you choices based on your preferred activity level, and take all the stress out of planning your trip. 

Check out the four Olympic itinerary options

Where is Olympic National Park located?

Small lake in the middle of the trees and a field of grasses in Olympic National Park.

The location of Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park takes up most of the Pacific Northwest’s Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The park has several distinct sections, and some of them are separated by urban areas, national forest, and Indian reservations.

Once you travel to Olympic National Park, you can reach most of the park’s attractions via U.S. Highway 101, which circles around the peninsula.

Each section of the park has its own entrance.

Olympic National Park Entrances

Starting from the northeast and following Highway 101 in a counterclockwise direction, the main ranger stations and entrances to Olympic National Park are:

  • Deer Park – no entrance station or visitor center
  • Olympic National Park Visitor Center – Port Angeles
  • Heart of the Hills Entrance Station* and Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center
  • Elwha Valley – no entrance station or visitor center
  • Lake Crescent – Storm King Ranger Station
  • Sol Duc Entrance Station*
  • Ozette – no entrance station or visitor center 
  • Mora + northern beaches – no entrance station or visitor center
  • Hoh Entrance Station* and Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
  • Kaliloch Ranger Station
  • Queets – no entrance station or visitor center
  • Quinault Rainforest Ranger Station
  • Staircase Ranger Station
  • Hoodsport Wilderness Information Center

*  Entrance fee collected/ pass checked at this entrance

Towns near Olympic National Park

There are several cities near Olympic National Park you can access for accommodation or additional trips.

The nearest is Port Angeles which is a convenient place to stay for Deer Park, Heart of the Hills, Hurricane Ridge, Elwha Vally, Sol Duc, and Lake Crescent.  The Olympic National Park Visitor Center is also located here and in less than an hour, you’ll enjoy seeing Mount Olympus, hiking Hurricane Ridge, or paddling the waters of Lake Crescent.  Sequim and Port Townsend are also just around an hour away and offer some charming sights. 

Forks is a good home base for the eastern and southern sections of the park like the Ozette and Mora beaches, the Hoh Rainforest, the southern Kalaloch beaches, and the Quinault Rainforest. Although it’s possible to visit these areas from Port Angeles, they are pretty far away and you’ll spend much less time on the road if you travel from Forks to Olympic National Park for these sections.

Seattle is about two and a half hours away, and is a popular stopover before or after your trip to Olympic National Park.

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 How To Get to Olympic National Park

Bent road in the middle of trees and behind are mountains in Hurricane Hill.

There are really three main ways to get into most Olympic National Park – taking a tour from Seattle or Port Angeles, or driving are the most convenient.

However, there are also a couple of ways to get to some – but by no means all – sections of Olympic National Park by bus.  And there are various other ways to get near Olympic National Park and connect with rental cars or tours.  

We’ll take a look at all the options, so you can decide the best way to get to Olympic National Park for your trip.


Taking a Tour to Olympic National Park

If you don’t want to drive and/ or have a limited time, then taking a day tour from Seattle or Port Angeles is a great option for seeing Olympic National Park.   

Keep in mind that it’s impossible to see the entire park in just one day, so you’ll need to choose which area(s) of the park you want to visit. 

Be aware, too, that if you take a tour from Seattle, you’ll spend a few hours in the bus or car getting there and back.  Tours from Port Angeles will have less travel time – and can go to the western sections of the park – but it typically takes longer to get to Port Angeles in the first place. 

If you have time but just don’t want to drive, you could combine a couple of these tours on different days, as they go to different parts of the park. If you do that, I’d recommend getting to Port Angeles (by bus or ferry) and taking tours from there. If you have just one day and are already in Seattle, then a tour from there would make the most sense.

Day Tour to Elwha Valley and Lake Crescent from Seattle

Includes light breakfast, an organic lunch, and snacks.  Get picked up and dropped off at your Seattle hotel.  The exact itinerary can vary, but typically includes a visit to Elwha Valley, Marymere Falls, and Lake Crescent.  

BOOK FULL-DAY TOUR FROM SEATTLE TO LAKE CRESCENT AND ELWHA VALLEY

Private Day Tour to Hurricane Ridge from Seattle

Get picked up from your hotel in Seattle before heading to the top of Hurricane Ridge.  Enjoy the panoramic views and hiking trails.  Snacks included. 

BOOK PRIVATE TOUR FROM SEATTLE HURRICANE RIDGE

Day Tour to Hoh Rain Forest and Rialto Beach from Port Angeles

This small group tour visits two of my favorite places in Olympic National Park.  First up is the gorgeous Hoh Rainforest, where there is a 2-mile guided hike.  Then, in the afternoon, head to the stunning Rialto Beach for a stroll along the beach. Pickup is from the Port Angeles Wharf (not your hotel). Lunch is not included. ** My pick if I had to choose just one tour **

BOOK FULL-DAY TOUR FROM PORT ANGELES TO HOH RAINFOREST AND RIALTO BEACH

Day Tour to Sol Duc, Lake Crescent and Hurricane Ridge from Port Angeles

The tour starts with a 2-mile roundtrip guided hike to Sol Duc Falls, arguably the most beautiful waterfalls in the park.  Then spend a couple of hours at the beautiful Lake Crescent Lodge before heading up to Hurricane Ridge for another optional hike.  Pickup is from the Port Angeles Wharf (not your hotel). Lunch is not included. ** My 2nd top pick**

BOOK FULL-DAY TOUR FROM PORT ANGELES TO SOL DUC, LAKE CRESCENT AND HURRICANE RIDGE


Where to Fly into for Olympic National Park

Aerial view of Pine trees beside the coast in Olympic National Park

The closest airport to Olympic National Park with commercial flights is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It’s about two and a half hours to the park’s Hurricane Ridge/ Heart o’ the Hills entrance in Port Angeles. 

The easiest way to get from the Seattle airport to Olympic National Park is to pick up a rental car and drive.  It’s a manageable driving distance. Seattle to Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles is 125 miles and the Lake Quinault entrance is 157 miles away.  (See Driving section below for more details).

You can also take a bus (See Bus section below).

The nearest Canadian airport to Olympic National Park is Victoria International Airport. From there, you can drive or take a ferry to Port Angeles. The entire trip to Olympic National Park Visitor Center including the ferry ride is approximately two and a half hours. (See Ferry section below for more details).

For more information about flights to Olympic National Park, read my guide to the best airports near Olympic National Park

Check prices on flights to Seattle Airport here


How to get to Olympic Park by Train

Although there are no direct trains into the park, if you love train travel, you can take a train most of the way. 

The closest train station to Olympic Park is Seattle’s King Street Station.  Tacoma is another convenient option. Both are on Amtrak’s Cascades line with connections to Vancouver, Canada and Portland, Oregon.  

Other option for Seattle are the Empire Builder line from Chicago to Seattle and the Coast Starlight line between Los Angeles and Seattle via Portland and Sacramento. 

In Seattle, you can pick up a rental car, take a tour, or transfer to a bus to Port Angeles and get a rental car or take a local bus or tour there.


Taking a Bus to Olympic National Park

There is no NPS Olympic National Park shuttle service and bus is not the most convenient way to get around, but if you don’t drive and prefer not to take a tour, it is possible to take a bus from/ to nearby cities.  And by using a combination of different companies, you can even visit some sections of the national park by bus. 

The main Seattle to Olympic National Park bus service is Dungeness Bus Line, operated by Greyhound. The bus from Seattle to Olympic National Park goes to/ from Port Angeles via the Edmonds-Kingston ferry and includes stops in Seattle at the Greyhound bus terminal, the King Street Amtrak station, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Another Olympic airport shuttle service is available through Rocket Transportation.  They don’t have a scheduled service, so it’s essential to book ahead with them. 

A third option between Seattle and Port Angeles is Clallam Transit.  This is a local company with bus routes around the Olympic Peninsula, mostly on the northern Highway 101 area, but it’s also possible to take a Clallam bus between Port Angeles and the Bainbridge Island Ferry, which connects to the ferry terminal in downtown Seattle.

One significant Olympic bus route that Clallam Transport offers is from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge, inside the national park (from June 1-September 15).  A detailed schedule is available here.

They also have buses between Port Angeles and Forks and Forks and La Push.  From there, if you didn’t want to drive, you’d need to take a taxi or Uber to the nearby beaches. 

Another local bus company is Jefferson Transit, which operates a shuttle to Olympic National Park’s eastern area.  Their Olympic Connection line runs between Forks and Quinault.  You can use it to access the Kalaloch Beaches and Quinault areas of the park.  

To access Olympic National Park’s southwest side/ Quinault, another option is Grays Harbor Transit which has routes connecting Olympia to Lake Quinault. If you’re planning to see the Quinault Rain Forest, this is a possible option after taking a bus from Seattle to Olympia.


Taking a Ferry to Olympic National Park

Rock stacks in the ocean in Olympic National Park in the summer

Washington State Ferries offer several routes to the Olympic Peninsula via Port Townsend, Kingston, and Bainbridge Island. 

The ferry between Port Townsend and Coupeville is convenient if you’re headed north from Olympic towards North Cascades National Park, the San Juan Islands, or the Canadian border (or are coming south from there) and want to bypass Seattle. 

Seattle ferries to Olympic National Park cross Puget Sound and takes you to the northeast side of the park.  There are several Seattle to Olympic National Park ferry routes:  

The most direct Seattle ferry to Olympic National Park leaves from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island. This is an easy way to travel from Seattle to Olympic National Park.  From Bainbridge Island, you can take a connecting bus or continue driving. 

Another route that involves taking a ferry to Olympic National Park from Seattle is via the Edmonds-Kingston route. Head north from Seattle on route 99 then west on WA-104 to Edmonds, then take the ferry to Kingston before continuing on to Port Angeles.

All of these ferries are vehicular ferries.  If you don’t have a car, another possibility is the Kingston Fast Ferry from Seattle to Olympic National Park.   It’s a passenger-only ferry between Pier 50 in downtown Seattle and Kingston. After the 40-minute ferry ride, you can take a connecting Greyhound bus from Kingston to Port Angeles. 

The other Olympic Park ferry route is on Blackball Ferry Lines between Victoria, Canada (on Vancouver Island) and Port Angeles.  After taking the ferry, Olympic Park bus services or rental cars are available in Port Angeles.

Reservations for all these routes are strongly recommended, especially in summer.

How long is the ferry ride from Seattle to Olympic National Park? 

All the ferries above in Washington State take about 35-40 minutes.  The ferry between Victoria, BC and Port Angeles, WA takes about 1.5 hours.


 Driving to Olympic National Park

Snowcapped mountains and below is a bent road with cars surrounded by trees and a field of grass in Hurricane Hill.

You’ll see more attractions and be able to enter all areas of the park when you drive to Olympic National Park.  To access any destination in Olympic National Park, drive along Highway 101, which roughly circles Olympic Peninsula. 

Convenient rental car pickups are available Seattle–Tacoma International Airport and Port Angeles.

Book a rental car with Discover Cars

Book a rental car with rentalcars.com 

Where are the entrance gates to Olympic National Park?

Although there are many entrances to Olympic National Park, there are only a few entrance gates that are staffed and where park rangers collect payment or check that you have a valid pass.  These are:

  • Heart of the Hills Entrance Station on the road to Hurricane Ridge
  • Sol Duc Entrance Station on the road to Sol Duc Springs and Falls
  • Hoh Entrance Station on the road to the Hoh Rainforest

Directions to Olympic National Park from popular destinations

For other major cities, here are things you need to know if you’re getting there by car.

Seattle to Olympic National Park 

There are a couple of options to get to Olympic National Park from Seattle without taking a ferry, depending on whether you want to go to Port Angeles or Quinault. 

Distance: 140 miles to Port Angeles

Travel time: 2 hours and 30 minutes 

Driving directions (to Port Angeles via Tacoma): If you’re taking the northern route from Seattle to Olympic National Park on I-5, head south to Tacoma via WA-16 West. From the peninsula, drive north to Port Orchard or Gorst. From there, take WA-3 North on Port Gamble and connect via WA-104. You’ll cross the Hood Canal Floating Bridge. When you reach WA-101 North, this leads you to Port Angeles. 

Distance: 150 miles to Quinault Rainforest

Travel time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Driving directions (to Quinault via Olympia): The other route from Seattle to Olympic National Park is taking I-5 South towards Olympia. From there, drive to WA-8 West going to Aberdeen on west WA-12. From Aberdeen, proceed to Hoquiam via WA-101 North until you reach Olympic National Park’s southwest area. This Seattle-Olympic National Park route takes you to the scenic Lake Quinault rainforest and Kalaloch beaches.

Portland to Olympic National Park

Distance:  230 miles to Heart of the Hills Entrance

Travel time: 4.5 hours 

Driving directions: To drive from Portland, Oregon to Olympic National Park, get on I-5N from Morrison Bridge. Follow I-5N until you reach Thurston County’s US-101 N. Take the US-101 N exit and continue towards Port Angeles.

Port Angeles to Olympic National Park

Distance:  6.5 miles to Heart of the Hills Entrance

Travel time: 15 minutes  

Driving directions: It’s a short distance from Port Angeles to Olympic National Park – at least the Heart of the Hills Entrance to Hurricane Ridge.  Just head straight up Hurricane Ridge Road.  For other areas like the Hoh Rainforest, take US-101 west.  Most of the park entrances are off this road.  For the La Push Beaches, take US-110 just before you get to Forks.

Olympia to Olympic National Park

Distance:  87 miles to Quinault Rainforest

Travel time: 1 hour and 40 minutes 

Driving directions: If you’re driving from Olympia to Olympic National Park, the fastest way is to take I-5 to Highway 101. For directions from Tacoma to Olympic National Park, take State Route 16 going to Bremerton. From there, drive to State Route 3 north to State Route 104.

Sequim to Olympic National Park

Distance:  23 miles to Heart of the Hills Entrance

Travel time: 35 minutes

Driving directions: The easiest way from Sequim to Olympic National Park is via Port Angeles on US-101.

SeaTac to Olympic National Park

Distance:  130 miles to Port Angeles or Quinault

Travel time: 2.5 hours 

Driving directions: It’s basically the distance from Seatac to Olympic National Park whether you head north to Port Angeles or south to Quinault.  

For Port Angeles, head south on I-5S, connect to WA-16W then WA-3N s before turning left on to WA-104W and finally on to WA-104W. For Quinault, take I-5S to Olympia then follow directions from Olympia above.

Other common departure points

If you’re traveling from Vancouver to Olympic National Park, you can drive via the Edmonds-Kingston ferry. It will take you more or less 5 hours, including the ferry ride.  If you’re traveling from Victoria to Olympic National Park, the easiest option is to take the ferry direct to Port Angeles (see Ferry section above) and drive from there. 

Book a rental car with Discover Cars

Book a rental car with rentalcars.com 

Check out my guide to saving money on rental cars before you book.


 How to Get to Olympic National Park Without a Car

If you’re traveling to Olympic National Park without a car, you can either take a tour from Seattle or Port Angeles or take buses around Olympic Peninsula. 

Both these options do only provide limited opportunities to access the park, so having your own vehicle is best, if you can manage it.


Travel Insurance for Olympic National Park

You should definitely have travel insurance when you travel to Olympic National Park.  Good travel insurance will cover you for trip cancellation, theft or damage of your property when traveling, medical help if you have an accident in or while getting to Olympic Park, or medical repatriation if you need to get medi-vaced out.  

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 Olympic National Park!

Did you decide how to go to Olympic National Park?  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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