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Olympic National Park: Places to Stay and Things to Do

Updated: Jun 12

The Olympic coast is a stunning place to visit during the summertime; it can be super moody and rainy outside of summer, so that may also be your vibe! I've done several weekend getaways with friends along the coast and loved every bit of it! The ocean is way too cold to swim though, so don't be expecting that!

Besides being famous for twilight fans, it has a really unique ecosystem. It's rigid, beautiful, and can bring upon different phenomenons based off the season. In the summertime, it's known to be a place where you can witness the bioluminescence; this is where the water illuminates from microscopic organisms in the water that create a glowing wave effect. It's most visible with less light in the sky, so try to go searching for it during a new moon phase. I also recommend waking up early and seeing the starfish during low-tide. It's incredibly colorful and breathtaking; it'll be much more lively than any aquarium you've been to. The drive can be exhausting, there's really only one main road around the coastline, which really sucks if there's an accident or slow driver.

Days 1-3: Bainbridge, Sequim, Port Angeles, Olympic National Park

Starting from Seattle you'll want to catch the Bainbridge ferry in the early to late morning; you don't really need reservations, just line up within 30 minutes ahead of departure to make sure you get on the preferred time. I like to drive my car on, leave my dog in the car, and walk upstairs to the deck (dogs are allowed on the outside deck too). Sometimes i'll already have my car camping gear set up and ill lay in the back seats.

When you get into Bainbridge, take some time to stretch the legs, shop some of the island boutiques. Proper Fish has incredible fish n chips and fish tacos (the fries aren't anything special though); it's dog-friendly on their patio. I also like Pegasus coffee for a nice afternoon pick me up before the long drive. Bainbridge island has a lot of cute wineries, so if you want to indulge, stop in and grab a bottle for your trip! White wine is more popular in the island's vineyards. If it's July or August, you should plan to stop in Sequim and see the lavender fields. Purple Haze farm is free to roam and take photos with your dogs, and you can pick fresh lavender or buy a bouquet for $5. Service is hit or miss, so download offline maps for the surrounding region before you go!

Plan to stay in Port Angeles for your first night, so you can rest and get up early for exploring Hurricane Ridge. I recommend staying at Red lion hotel or Quality inn for pet-friendly stays. Dogs can't go in the park, so you'll have to make sure they're okay staying at the hotel while you're exploring!

This is where you'll be exploring the classic Olympic National Park hikes. You can start your morning drive up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. The ridge hike to Mt Angeles is one of my favorites! You get panoramic views of the entire Olympic mountain range. I recommend doing this in the afternoon since the morning fog takes some time to burn out.

If you're up for a challenge, then head over to the Mount Storm King hike and get an intense workout in! It's absolutely worth it for the views and for a chance to be visited by the Storm king birds! I found the rope section to be overhyped and not scary at all! I mostly used it as extra support as I hiked.

During the next day you can get a feel for the water by jumping into Devil's Punchbowl swimming hole along the Spruce railroad hiking trail. This is dog-friendly too! I don't personally recommend the Sol Du hot springs if you're a huge spa enthusiast like me. It is kid-friendly which could sway some families one way or the other. They didn't provide soap to clean off or towels, so it's just very bare minimum amenities. I'm sure it'd be nice in the winter though if that's all you have to do.

Day 3-4: Neah Bay, Cape Flattery

Start your drive up the coastline towards the most northwesternmost point of the contiguous US called Cape Flattery. You'll need to stop by a gas station (with $20 cash!) or any place listed here to get your Makah permit to enter Cape Flattery. Before you go, I recommend grabbing some delicious lunch at Bigginz food truck; their cod fish n chips was incredible! The Cape Flattery trail is short and dog-friendly. We went at sunset and the lighting was stunning and there was no one else there in June. It is a bit of a drive, so I dont know if i'd go all the way back again. You can camp at Hobuck Campground on the reservation. It was pretty full on a weekend, but we just parked and slept for the night there in my MINI Cooper since we didn't want to set up the tent just for a night.

Day 5-7: Forks, Olympic Coastline, Hoh Rainforest

Forks Washington Welcome sign
Forks Washington

Places to Stay

Like most national parks in Washington state, accommodations are sparse and limited. I recommend tent or car camping at Kalaloch Campground if you can snag a night there. They book up, but people do cancel, so always check! There's also Kalaloch Lodge which i've heard is wonderful for dogs, but other than that there's not much else out there in terms of accommodations. I personally didn't think it was worth it to stay in Forks as there's not much going on; just a few Twilight stores and it's a bit rundown. There are town conveniences if that's what you'd prefer though, so you could stay at Manitou Lodge in Forks. There are also plenty of forest roads where you can just sleep in your car, but make sure to have some kind of protection because the woods are really creepy and dense out there.

From your campsite you can explore the area for a few days. There's some ice cream near the Kalaloch lodge and the beaches are all stunning. Rialto and La Push beach are probably the most popular for hiking along the coast. You can also visit the Hoh Rainforest, but dogs aren't allowed.

If you want to see some of the sea life, keep an eye on the tidal charts (you may want to screenshot them beforehand because you might not have service) and then you can wake early. You want the tides to be low, so the tidal pools get uncovered by the waves. If you go during a new moon phase in the summer months, it's also possible to see the bioluminescence illuminate the waves at night. It's all dog-friendly which is nice since the rest of the Olympic National Park doesn't have much for dogs.

Gear List

I swear by my Merrel Moab 3 Hiking Boots! I've been using them for 10 years, switching to a new pair after about 6 years. They're waterproof and the ankle is high enough to prevent any rolled ankles. The grip is also amazing! I love these shoes. For less intense hikes, I use my Vessi Stormburst. They are easy to slip on while camping, completely waterproof and thick enough for walking along the rocky sand on the Olympic coast. I use the Fjallraven Ulvo 23 hiking bag with my Peak Design camera clip. Inside my pack: Bear spray, Lifestraw, hydration pack, sunscreen, hats, etc. I use the MSR 2-person backpacking tent with all my HEST mattress and HEST pillows.

Check out my amazon storefront for other essentials! I have my camera gear linked in there as well. I use the Sony A6300 with a Sigma 30mm lens for my photos.


Hi! I'm Jackie and my dog is Sora. I work remote as an engineer, but I love to spend my free time in nature and by traveling to new places. I take my camera wherever I go, and sometimes my drone.

Somewhere With Sora is a Seattle-based lifestyle and travel blog that provides helpful travel and adventure tips for all kinds of trips, with or without the dogs.

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