Olympic National Park is one of our national treasures, but visiting Olympic National Park is quite different from visiting most of our other national parks. Its most salient characteristic is that it is one of the largest road-free land areas in the lower 48 states. Unlike most national parks, it has no simple system of roads running through its heart. While it dominates the Olympic Peninsula, it is almost invisible from the highway. Route 101 runs around it passing through the park only along Lake Crescent. Otherwise, to see the park one has to take a side spur, often fifteen or twenty miles from Route 101.
This means that visiting Olympic National Park can require a lot of driving. It is a big park and offers experiences and explorations that are impossible anywhere else. There are mountains, beaches, woodlands and rain forests. To get the most out of the park it pays to do some research and planning so that your driving is well rewarded. People who come to Olympic National Park with a checklist, but no plan, often wind up spending all their time in their car, rather than enjoying the Pacific Northwest wilderness.
This guide describes a number of the great places you might want to visit. It also includes a trip planner that estimates your driving time and how long you might want to spend exploring at each site. Everyone is different. Some visitors won't consider a site properly visited without at least several hours of hiking. Others just want to see the main attractions and head on.
The planner assumes that you are based in Seattle, either downtown or near the airport, so you will spend your first day driving from Seattle and your last day driving back. It also has a planning page for a single day trip. That's how we Kalebergs got started out here, a day trip to Hurricane Ridge added on to a business trip. For longer trips, it assumes you'll have full days to explore.
Use the 'How long to stay' menu to choose a trip length, or start by exploring our pages on 'What to see'. We've tried to provide links to other sources including our own pages at our Kaleberg web site. This planning site is designed to help you block out your stay. It will warn you if you are trying to do too much, either too much driving, or too much exploring. Its times are approximate, so use a map for your actual navigation, the mapping web sites and GPS systems make various navigational assumptions that you would do well to regard skeptically.