Let’s talk about this trips “sign picture”. For those that don’t know, it’s a tradition of mine to get a picture with my fellow campers by the national park sign when we visit. My travel crew knows the routine… they go stand in front of the sign while I set up the tripod. From left to right we’ve got Kaytee, Logan, Grace, and half of me. Let me explain…Well this trip, I was setting up my tripod/timer all that jazz- guy drives by and yells out his window “you can’t park there! MOVE!” …whoops. I had no idea we couldn’t park there… better make this quick. So I hit the shutter button and ran backwards…hoping that maybe I’d make it in time to get this in one shot. Above is the result of that one shot.
Now that my best friend Grace lives in Seattle, I love the state of Washington even more. With the heavy traveling we did in the spring, we wanted to keep our July 4th trip as cheap as we could. Camping’s cheap! So, this year we celebrated Independence Day while camping in Olympic National Park! With not nearly enough time in Seattle, we left for the park the day after we arrived. If you have time, explore the city! For what to do, check out my post on The Perfect Weekend in Seattle
3 Day Itinerary for Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park protects nearly one million acres of vast wilderness diversity. From glacier-capped mountains to old growth rain forests, and over 70 miles of ocean coastline, this park has so much to explore. It’s hard to capture all the beauty in just 3 days, we absolutely will be coming back to explore more one day!
DAY 1: Lake Crescent
We drove 3.5 hours from Seattle to Fairholme campground. Slightly worried we might not get a site this close to the holiday (most campgrounds inside the park are walk-in, and do not take reservations). The campground had flush toilets, but no shower facilities or electric. We were pleasantly surprised to arrive at an almost empty campground. We picked a stunning site with massive mossy trees towering around us, overlooking the incredible Lake Crescent. We set up camp and set out to explore the Lake Crescent area. For what to pack, check out my Packing Guide: Camping National Parks
Lake Crescent lies 18 miles west of Port Angeles in the northern hills of Olympic National Park. We could see right down to the bottom through the crystal clear waters. I would recommend kayaking on this beautiful lake if you have the time!
Next we hiked the moderate 1.7 mile trail to Marymere Falls. There are two viewpoints to see the falls. At the end of the hike you’ll reach the falls lower viewpoint at the bottom of the stairs. Continue up the stairs to reach the top viewpoint.
Barnes Creek Trail
A peaceful creekside hike with an option to check out Marymere Falls (enter at falls trailhead, continue forward at the junction or go right and check out the falls). This hike takes you through a Jurassic Park looking forest of old growth and lush vegetation. We hiked the barnes creek trail after Marymere Falls, and the solitude from the crowds gave the forest a much different feeling. The trail rolls mostly up and rarely down for 5.5 miles.
DAY 2: Sul Duc
We woke up early to pack up our campsite and have breakfast before we hit the trails for the day. Our plan was to explore the Sol Duc area, and then head towards the coastline to set up camp in Mora, a campground just outside of La Push. You can visit the lush forest near Sol Duc for a day hike or an overnight.
Sul Duc Falls
Sol Duc Falls Nature Trail is a flat short 1.6 mile trail through old growth forest that leads to a beautiful three prong waterfall. The three falls rage under a wooden bridge with crystal blue waters on the other end. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the waterfall capture rainbows in the spray! We continued past the falls and headed towards deer lake.
The trail to Deer Lake from Sul Duc Falls is a 6.3 mile hike with 3 backpacking campsites along the trail. This mostly up and rarely down hike is rated as moderate. The hike features a stunning lake at the end (pack food and picnic at the lake!) To get there, begin heading down the trail to Sol Duc Falls. Once you’re there, pass the entrance to the Lover’s Lane Trail, the route begins climbing up to Deer Lake.
DAY 3: La Push
Our last day in the park was spent relaxing on the coast, recovering from our hikes. The Mora Campground we camped at was on the north side of the river, on the south side is First Beach. First Beach is located within the Quileute Indian Reservation, and surrounded by Olympic National Park. The beach is sandy with a crescent shaped shoreline that’s popular with surfers. We stopped here first, and explored the rocks looking for sea creatures during the low tide.
With a shorter hike than Third Beach, we decided to do the 4 mile round trip hike to Second Beach after First Beach. The trail was interesting, after 0.3 miles, the descent becomes more defined, and the trail becomes a switchback crib staircase which leads down to the beach. We lounged lazily in the sun for hours on this beach. Exploring and climbing the rocks that jutted out from the ocean until it was time for the drive home.
Spending some time in the city of Seattle? Check out my guide to The Perfect Weekend in Seattle!