Rugged Paradise – Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is one of those rare places that are on another level. It’s been on our RV Bucket List since we started traveling full time and it lived up to the expectations.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Elwha Dam RV Park just outside of the National Park. The owners take a lot of pride in their park and creating an environment where you can relax and enjoy your camping experience.
It’s not often that we can fit into State and National Parks with our 5th wheel being 44 ft long. Luckily we’ve been able to find great campgrounds just outside these areas that can accommodate the larger rigs.
Another big perk is the location.
- On the rugged and scenic Elwha River
- 10 min from Surfing
- Near Lake Crescent
- Close enough to Seattle and the Coast for quality day trips
One random thing we found enjoyable, there was a pond near our campsite and at night these really loud frogs would start making their frog noises; it makes you feel like you’re immersed in nature and was very cool to fall asleep to. It helped Ella sleep like a baby.
We need to come back here. It’s just too big of a place to explore it all in just 2 weeks! With everything Olympic has to offer, the beaches are my favorite. They are so rugged and wild. Here are some of the beaches we visited.
The beach is in the tiny harbor town of La Push. Right away you’ll notice the beautiful sea stacks. There’s also a lot of driftwood to sift through or just walk along and look at the unique pieces of wood. There were only a few other people on this huge beach when we were here.
It’s a great spot to hit the waves if you’re a surfer (which I did). I can’t imagine it being much more scenic than riding a wave with the large sea stacks in the background!
While I was surfing this guy was catching fish. He would wade a little way out, cast his line into the surf and BAM! This fallen tree looks like an eagle.
Second Beach is a 2-mile hike through a lush thick forest. One of the things I loved about this hike is as you get close to the beach I could hear the waves getting louder. The view opens up to another classic Olympic National Park view. This beach was very remote.
I have a big and heavy surfboard so I opted out of bringing it (along with my wetsuit) on the hike. I did run into a guy who I spent some time with who did end up paddling out.
An absolutely gorgeous wooded trail takes you on a green hike to the beach. I had the entire hike to myself.
One of the things that are so neat about the Pacific Northwest is the lush, green forests.
Again with the sea-stacks. It’s such a beautiful place. Now for the hike back out.
Salt Creek Recreation Area
This beach was about 10 min or so away from our campground. It was beautiful with sea-stacks, calm water and a creek flowing into the ocean.
It was a great moment to wrap up our 6-month Surfing Trip from the Mexican Border to Canada on this beach.
I was able to paddle out to this sunset overlooking Canada, and then look at the snow on the mountain coming back in towards shore.
This is a bucket list beach. Ruby Beach was highly recommended online as the place to see the sunset and it didn’t disappoint!
One of the highlights is the accessibility of the beach. It’s just .25 miles from the parking lot to this incredible gem.
It’s tough to put into words the feeling you get when you are blessed with the opportunity to watch the sunset over such a breathtaking spot.
This is a very accessible beach. In fact, the parking lot comes right up to the sand so you can enjoy this beautiful beach and spend your energy beachcombing along the shore instead of hiking just to get to the beach.
Where to Eat
Lake Crescent Lodge
Danielle fell in love with this place. She’d love it when I wanted to hike one of the nearby trails because she would come here with Ella and eat, relax and hang out until I got done with the hike.
It has million dollar views of the lake from the tables. It’s a great place to relax and get some food after you’ve pushed your body on a hike and that’s exactly what I would do when I met back up with them at the Lodge.
Outside has some equally impressive views to sit and relax. It’s such a beautiful place!
The water is so clear in this lake and the color of it is spectacular. It’s not very often where you’re able to enjoy a good meal with a view like this. We couldn’t get enough of this place and kept coming back.
There’s A LOT of waterfalls in Olympic NP, Marymere is beautiful but is also close enough to the lodge that the non-hikers can hang back and enjoy some food or a cocktail, and the hikers of the group can head up on the lush forest trail. It’s just 1.8 miles in and back out so it can be done in a relatively short amount of time.
Mount Storm King
I have to warn you, the views at the top of this hike may make other hikes you’ve done seem less spectacular.
It’s a 3.8-mile roundtrip hike with a good burn at the beginning. It starts sharing the trail with Marymere Falls and then it jets off up the switchbacks on the mountain. The trail is well maintained and you pop in and out of the forest.
When you pop out of the forest you usually have some nice expansive views.
At one point near the top, the trail gets steep but they’ve installed ropes for you to pull yourself up with.
The views from the top are as good as it gets. Seriously top-notch scenery.
Spruce Railroad Trail
I didn’t know what to expect with this ride, but it ended up being one of the best rides of my life. The trail is fantastic for hiking. Mountain Biking on the trail was an absolute adrenaline filled blast.
The trail is in excellent shape and other than a few challenging spots, it’s something any moderately skilled mountain biker could (and should) do. You’re right next to the crystal clear water almost the entire bike ride.
The campground has great hiking trails that take you down to the Elwha River. Each time I went here I had the entire outdoor playground to myself. I was able to step out of my RV and within 2 minutes have biked down to the river.
I recommend that anytime you go camping you speak with the owners/rangers at the campground and ask about any unique spots you should visit. They led me to a bridge that we were able to climb and sit on the ledge overlooking the river. It was such a random and incredible adventure!
Nearby the campground is Madison Falls. It’s a short and easy hike that ends at the waterfall area. What was really nice is that I had the entire place to myself.
The Elwha River is raging near the parking area.
Have you been to Olympic National Park? We’d like to hear about your experience in the comments!