View of Olympic Mountains in Olympic National Park

The Best Camping in Olympic National Park

Camping in Olympic National Park is one of the best ways to explore this absolutely breathtaking outdoor wonderland.

Spanning 141,000 square miles, the park contains three distinct ecosystems: temperate forest, glaciated mountains, and rugged coastline. These diverse ecosystems provide countless opportunities for outdoor adventure, notably countless miles of hiking and backpacking trails.

Here is everything you need to know about camping in Olympic National Park.

Index

  1. Best Campgrounds
  2. Other Camping Options
  3. Best Nearby Campgrounds
  4. Free Camping
  5. Other Lodging
  6. Must-See Destinations
  7. Hiking & Backpacking
  8. Other Park Activities
  9. Things to Do Nearby

Best Campgrounds in Olympic National Park

Camping in Olympic National Park is one of the most popular ways to explore the Olympic Peninsula.

There are currently 12 Olympic National Park campgrounds. All are first-come, first-served except for Kalaloch Campground which offers reservations during the peak season. Dozens of other campgrounds are located just outside the park boundaries.

Altair Campground  

Elwha River in Olympic National Park

*Closed permanently due to heavy flooding starting in 2014 when two dams on Elwha River were removed.

Nestled in the woods on the Elwha River, Altair Campground is the perfect jumping off point for exploring popular Olympic National Park destinations including Goblin’s Gate, Humes Ranch, and Olympic Hot Springs.

The campground is open from May to October. It contains 30 non-reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 35 feet for some spots). Flush toilets and running water are available.

Learn more about Altair Campground.

Deer Park Campground

View of Forested Hills in Olympic National Park

One of the best places to camp in the entire country, Olympic National Park’s Deer Park Campground is unique as the only car campground in the park that’s located in high-alpine country. Camp here for 360-degree views of the surrounding Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, and Strait of Juan de Fuca. The campground’s isolation provides breathtaking views of the night skies when the weather is clear.

The campground is open from July to September, depending on snow. It contains 14 non-reservable spots. Because of the rugged and winding 18-mile access road, RVs aren’t allowed. Running water isn’t available although Deer Park has pit toilets.

Learn more about Deer Park Campground.

Dosewallips Campground (Walk-In Only)

Dosewallips River

The sole walk-in only campground in Olympic National Park (other than backcountry campsites), Dosewallips Campground is very popular with hikers making their way into or out of the backcountry. Located alongside the swift Dosewallips River, it takes a 5.5-mile hike to get to this pretty campground from the end of the access road.

The campground is open year round. It contains 30 non-reservable tent spots. As it’s a walk-in campground, RVs aren’t allowed. Running water isn’t available although Dosewallips does have pit toilets.

Learn more about Dosewallips Campground.

Elwha Campground (Closed)

Elwha River

*Closed permanently due to heavy flooding starting in 2014 when two dams on Elwha River were removed.

One of the most exciting campgrounds in Olympic National Park, Elwha Campground is located alongside the gorgeous Elwha River. Recently freed from two dams, the river is rapidly regaining life. Miles of spectacular hiking trails are close at hand, including several that lead up to old abandoned cabins.

The campground is open year round. It contains 40 non-reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 35 feet for some spots). Flush toilets and running water are available from April to September only.

Learn more about Elwha Campground.

Fairholme Campground

Lake Crescent Through the Trees in Olympic National Park

Located on the ever popular Lake Crescent, Fairholme Campground fills up fast. Arrive early to secure one of the coveted lakeside camping spots. Fairholme is also among the cleanest and best-maintained campgrounds in Olympic National Park. In addition to exploring Lake Crescent, use Fairholme Campground as a jumping off point for Sol Duc Falls and Hurricane Ridge.

The campground is open from April to October. It contains 88 non-reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 21 feet). Flush toilets, running water, and an RV dump station are available.

Learn more about Fairholme Campground.

Graves Creek Campground

Skinny Trees, Ferns, and Moss on Olympic Peninsula

Camping in the Quinault Rainforest is an experience unlike any other. Graves Creek Campground’s location alongside the serene Quinault River makes it the perfect place to do so. This Olympic National Park campground provides easy access to popular destinations including Pony Bridge, Quinault Loop, and Enchanted Valley. Deer and elk often wander by in the mornings and evenings on their way to drink from the river.

The campground is open year round. It contains 30 non-reservable spots. It isn’t RV friendly. Running water isn’t available although Graves Creek has pit toilets.

Learn more about Graves Creek Campground.

Heart O’the Hills Campground

Sweeping View of Wildflower Meadows, Mountains, and the Puget Sound Beyond

Located smack dab in the middle of an old growth forest, Heart O’the Hills is a popular Olympic National Park campground for family camping. Kids love the fun summer ranger programs. The campground is just a few miles from Port Angeles, making it one of the most easily accessible in the park. But the real draw of Heart O’the Hills is its close proximity to Hurricane Ridge. The breathtaking destination is located a short 14-mile drive uphill.

The campground is open year round. However, the area receives heavy snow in the winters, making it walk-in only while snow is on the ground. It contains 105 non-reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 35 feet in some campsites). Flush toilets, running water, and an RV dump station are available.

Learn more about Heart O’the Hills Campground.

Hoh Campground

Hiking Trail Winding Through Thick Hoh Rainforest

Tucked away in the country’s most famous rainforest, Hoh Campground is a very central jumping off point for many Olympic National Park attractions. Camp here for easy access to popular hiking trails like Mount Olympus, Hoh River Trail, and Hall of Mosses. As one of the wettest locations in America, campers should adequately prepare for rain, even in the middle of summer.

The campground is open year round. It contains 88 non-reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 21 feet). Flush toilets, running water, and an RV dump station are available.

Learn more about Hoh Campground.

Kalaloch Campground

Tent Perched on Bluff Above Pacific Ocean at Kalaloch Campground

There’s a reason that Kalaloch Campground is the most popular campground in Olympic National Park – it’s simply beautiful. Situated on a bluff alongside sandy Kalaloch Beach, many campsites have amazing views of the ocean, especially at sunset. Kalaloch is the one of two campgrounds in the park that allow reservations (from June to September). Make these well ahead of time to secure a spot during the summer.

The campground is open year round. It contains 170 reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 35 feet for some spots). Flush toilets, running water, an RV dump station, and a year-round general store are available.

Learn more about Kalaloch Campground.

Mora (La Push) Campground

Sea Stack Near Mora Campground

Also referred to as La Push Campground, Mora Campground is situated near the Quillayute River, just a few miles from Rialto Beach. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from popular Olympic National Park destinations including Hole in the Wall, Second Beach, and Strawberry Bay Falls. Eagle, seal, deer, whale, and even bear sightings are commonplace.

The campground is open year round. It contains 95 non-reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 35 feet for some spots). Pit toilets, running water, and an RV dump station are available.

Learn more about Mora Campground.

North Fork Campground

Quinault River Rocks

For those looking for a more secluded Olympic National Park camping experience, North Fork Campground is one of the best choices. Hidden along the Quinault River, this tiny campground is located close to beautiful hikes including Skyline Ridge Primitive Trails. Deer, elk, and bears visit the area often.

The campground is open year round. It contains 9 non-reservable spots. It isn’t RV friendly. Running water isn’t available although North Fork has pit toilets.

Learn more about North Fork Campground.

Ozette Campground

Blue Heron on Rock near Lake Ozette

With views of Lake Ozette from every campsite, the isolated Ozette Campground is an often overlooked gem of an Olympic National Park campground. Miles from anywhere else, the road to the lake is often rough and muddy. The campsites themselves are equally wet. Yet it’s all worth it when you consider the beauty of the lake and its proximity to some of the most remote coastline in the country.

The campground is open year round. It contains 15 non-reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 21 feet). Running water isn’t available although Ozette Campground does have pit toilets.

Learn more about Ozette Campground.

Queets Campground

Remote River Bank Near Queets Campground

Queets Campground is among the most remote campgrounds in Olympic National Park. This makes it perfect for those looking to experience the park in solitude. On top of that, it’s located in one of the least visited sections of the park.

The campground is open year round. It contains 20 non-reservable spots. It isn’t RV friendly. Running water isn’t available although Queets has pit toilets.

Learn more about Queets Campground.

Sol Duc Campground

Walking Bridge Near Sul Doc Falls

Sol Duc Campground is one of the best places for camping in Olympic National Park. Located next to the incredible Sol Duc Falls, it’s also in close proximity to hot springs, a sprinkling of lakes, and rivers filled with salmon. Thanks to its popularity, Sol Duc Campground is home to a number of summer ranger programs. The nearby Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort offers a lodge and restaurant during the summer months.

The campground is open year round. However, flush toilets and running water are only available from May to October. It contains 82 non-reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 35 feet for some spots).

Learn more about Sol Duc Campground.

South Beach Campground

Pacific Ocean Sea Stacks in Olympic National Park

Though it’s right off of Highway 101 and just minutes from Kalaloch, South Beach Campground is surprisingly isolated. It’s scenic location on a bluff provides campers with great views of the Pacific Ocean, especially at sunset. South Beach is also the perfect jumping off point to explore the Quinault and Queets Rainforests.

The campground is open from May to September. It contains 50 non-reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 35 feet in some campsites). Running water isn’t available although South Beach has pit toilets and an RV dump station.

Learn more about South Beach Campground.

Staircase Campground

Tent in Olympic Rainforest

The best campground on the eastern side of Olympic National Park, Staircase Campground is immediately alongside the Skokomish River. Gladys Divide and Staircase Loop Trail are just a few of the amazing hiking trails within easy access of Staircase. Thanks to its proximity to the park’s most remote mountains, the campground also acts as a home base for backpacking in Olympic National Park’s backcountry wilderness.

The campground is open year-round. It contains 56 non-reservable spots and is RV friendly (up to 35 feet for some spots). Flush toilets and running water are available from June to September.

Learn more about Staircase Campground.


Other Olympic National Park Campgrounds

View of Olympic Mountains Looking Towards Port Angeles

Want to camp in Olympic National Park but away from the crowd?

Then backcountry camping is the way to go. All of these backcountry campgrounds and camping areas require a hike to reach, making them perfect backpacking destinations.

Backcountry Campgrounds

Looking Out to Pacific Ocean from Inside a Tent

Two of the best backcountry campgrounds in Olympic National Park are Shi Shi Beach and Enchanted Valley.

Camping in Shi Shi Beach should be on every outdoor lover’s camping bucket list. The easy 2 to 5 mile hike takes you down onto one of the most scenic stretches of beach in Washington. Camp right on the beach and wake up to incredible morning views.

Camping in Enchanted Valley requires a much longer hike in but the area is just as beautiful. A round-trip hike of 26 miles is necessary, making this a backpacking destination more than anything else. The breathtaking mountain retreat is complete with an abandoned historic lodge.

Make sure you have all the proper wilderness camping permits (required for all Olympic National Park backcountry campsites) as well as bear canisters to store your food.


Best Campgrounds Near Olympic National Park

You don’t always have to camp in Olympic National Park when visiting the Olympic Peninsula.

There are plenty of campgrounds just outside the park. Some of these are small and remote to help you avoid crowds while others are large, full of amenities, and easy to access for the full-blown RV camping experience.

Coho Campground

Located in the nearby Olympic National Forest, Coho Campground is situated on Wynoochee Lake. In addition to 48 reservable campsites, there are 8 walk-in tent sites, a group site, and 3 reservable yurts. No hookups are available but many of the sites accommodate RVs and trailers.

Learn more about Coho Campground.

Dosewallips State Park

Few campgrounds near Olympic National Park are better for exploring the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula than Dosewallips State Park. The large campground has 75 tent sites, 45 RV sites with full hookups, and 12 cabins. All sites are reservable online.

Learn more about Dosewallips State Park.

Hamma Hamma Campground

Hamma Hamma Campground is also located in Olympic National Forest along the Hamma Hamma River. It has 15 first-come, first-served campsites that accommodate tents as well as RVs and trailers up to 21 feet.

Learn more about Hamma Hamma Campground.

Olympic Peninsula/Port Angeles KOA

Chief among the best full amenities RV camping on the Olympic Peninsula is the Olympic Peninsula/Port Angeles KOA. Located just outside Port Angeles, the family-friendly campground has dozens of full utilities campsites to accommodate RVs of all lengths as well as a grassy tent camping area and numerous camping cabins. A swimming pool, dog park, and bicycle rentals are additional amenities.

Learn more about Olympic Peninsula/Port Angeles KOA.

Salt Creek Recreation Area

Salt Creek Recreation Area in Clallam County is another great place for camping near Olympic National Park. Located on a high bluff overlooking the Puget Sound, 73 of the campground’s 92 campsites have a view of the water. Most sites accommodate RVs, although there are a few tent-only sites. Reservations are accepted during the peak season.

Learn more about Salt Creek Recreation Area.

Sequim Bay State Park

Don’t like the rain? Sequim Bay State Park is located just outside of Sequim, one of the driest towns on the Olympic Peninsula. The scenic, peaceful campground boasts 45 primitive campsites plus 15 campsites with partial RV utilities. A handful of sites accommodate RVs over 30 feet. Reservations are accepted.

Learn more about Sequim Bay State Park.

Willaby Campground

Camping on Lake Quinault doesn’t get much better than Willaby Campground. An ideal campground for Olympic National Park visitors, the 19 lakeside campsites are quiet and peaceful. Most accommodate RVs and trailers in addition to tent campers. Reservations are available.

Learn more about Willaby Campground.


Free Camping in Olympic National Park

Believe it or not, free camping in Olympic National Park is completely possible.

Well, there aren’t exactly any free campgrounds in Olympic National Park, but there is an abundance of free camping just outside the park.

The key is to look for areas that allow dispersed camping. This means camping without amenities, so don’t expect bathrooms or running water. You can sometimes expect a pit toilet, but if you don’t want to do your business in the woods, you might consider bringing along a camping toilet.

The best locations for free camping near Olympic National Park are National Forest land and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) land.

These public areas typically allow free dispersed camping for between 7 and 14 days. Washington DNR land does require a Discover Pass ($35 per year or $11.50 per day).

Minnie Peterson Campground is my personal favorite. It’s located on the edge of the Hoh Rainforest near the town of Forks. It has roughly 10 total campsites and is spacious enough for RVs up to 30 feet.

Washington DNR has an excellent resource to camping in Olympic Peninsula forests – including recommendations for other popular free campgrounds including Cottonwood Campground and Hoh Oxbow Campground.


Other Lodging in Olympic National Park

Not everyone wants to go camping in Olympic National Park. Luckily, there are plenty of other Olympic National Park lodging options to choose from for overnight stays.

Inside the park’s borders, five lodging options are available. These range from sophisticated lodges to simple cabins. Outside the park are dozens of other options, including motels, cabins, and lodges.

If you’re planning to visit Olympic National Park during the summer, be sure to book your lodging accommodations well in advance. Reservations fill up fast.

Kalaloch Lodge

Located just feet from one of the best beaches in Olympic National Park, Kalaloch Lodge offers both motel-style lodge rooms and rustic cabins. A dining room and general store are also on site. Thanks to its location high on a bluff, many of the lodge rooms and cabins have breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Learn more about Kalaloch Lodge.

Lake Crescent Lodge

Lake Crescent Lodge is as picturesque as it gets. Built in 1915, the imposing wood structure sits tucked back among giant trees on the shore of Lake Crescent. In addition to lake and mountain view lodge rooms, Lake Crescent Lodge is home to a smattering of rustic cabins.

A dining room, lounge, coffee shop, and gift shop are also on site. Swimming in the lake is possible although the water is very cold, even in summer. A better way to see the lake up close is to rent a boat from the lodge.

Learn more about Lake Crescent Lodge.

Lake Quinault Lodge

Despite the elegance of Lake Quinault Lodge itself, the sheer isolation of its location makes for a relaxing getaway. Built in 1926, the historic lodge gives visitors a chance to disconnect from the world. Cabins aren’t available at this location.

The grounds of Lake Quinault Lodge consist of an expansive front lawn that extends down to the shores of Lake Quinault. Inside the lodge, the highlight is the spacious great room where guests can relax in the welcoming warmth of the fireplace. Another majestic fireplace is located outdoors, the perfect place to unwind in the summer months.

Learn more about Lake Quinault Lodge.

Log Cabin Resort

Located on the north shore of Lake Crescent, Log Cabin Resort is much smaller than Lake Crescent Lodge. Surrounded by quiet forests, the resort’s peaceful setting lends itself well to those that prefer solitude.

Lodge rooms, lakeside chalets, and rustic cabins are available for rental. An area for tent camping and RV camping is available on site. A small deli, general store, and café are also available.

Learn more about Log Cabin Resort.

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort

If simple and straightforward Olympic National Park lodging is what you’re after, then Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is your best bet. The compound is made up of several small cabins as well as a dining room, restaurant, mineral-pool hot springs, and general store. Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is one of the best places to stay for those looking to explore the nearby Sol Duc Valley and Sol Duc Falls.

Learn more about Sol Duc Hot Springs.


Olympic National Park Must-See Destinations

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park

When camping in Olympic National Park, there are a few must-see destinations that all visitors need to check out.

  • Hoh Rain Forest – Receiving over 134 inches of rain per year, this rainy gem of Olympic National Park is covered in greenery from hanging moss to towering trees to boundless ferns.
  • Kalaloch Beach – Located at the southern end of the park, Kalaloch is hands down one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Take a trip up to Ruby Beach to see the towering sea stacks.
  • Sol Duc Falls – Churning white water tumbling into a narrow ravine surrounded by towering old growth trees are what make Sol Duc Falls so special.
  • Quinault Rain Forest – Also known as the “Valley of Rainforest Giants,” this Washington rainforest is home to the largest Western Red Cedar, Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Alaskan Cedar, and Mountain Hemlock on record.
  • Lake Crescent – One of the most popular and scenic destinations in Olympic National Park, this sprawling lake provides plenty of outdoor entertainment, including kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and more.
  • Hurricane Ridge – Drawing its name from the strong winds the rip through the area, this impressive ridge boasts some of the most beautiful views in the park. It’s also home to prime snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.
  • Rialto Beach – This extremely rugged beach is a great place to get a taste for pure wilderness. Unlike sandy Kalaloch Beach to the south, Rialto is largely rock with giant driftwood logs and soaring sea stacks as a backdrop.

Hiking and Backpacking in Olympic National Park

Don’t go camping in Olympic National Park without going on at least one or two hikes.

In addition to dozens of hikes of all lengths and difficulty levels, the park is also known for its world-class overnight backpacking. Washington Trails Association is an invaluable resource for hiking in Olympic National Park. Their list of Great Summer Hikes on the Olympic Peninsula will point you in the direction of the park’s most popular hiking trails.

Here are a few of our favorite Olympic National Park hikes for all skill levels:

  • Sol Duc Falls This trail winds through misty, old-growth forests and mossy ravines until it arrives at the titular waterfalls, among the most beautiful in the state. The hike ranges from 1.6 to 5.3 miles roundtrip depending on your route.
  • Mount Ellinor Two trailheads give you the option of a 3.2 or 6.2-mile roundtrip hike to the top. Enjoy views of the park’s interior, its numerous volcanoes, and a large swath of the Puget Sound. On clear days you can sometimes even see Seattle!
  • Third Beach Although it’s not as popular as First or Second Beach, the 3.6-mile roundtrip hike to Third Beach isn’t anything to scoff at. The dramatic sea stacks in Strawberry Bay are the highlight of this hike. You can even camp on the beach!
  • North Fork Quinault River Trail For overnight backpacking in Olympic National Park, it’s hard to beat this 21-mile loop of moderate difficulty. More experienced backpackers can take an alternate trail for a 47-mile loop that takes around a week to fully enjoy.
  • Enchanted Valley Perhaps the pinnacle of Olympic National Park hiking, Enchanted Valley is 26 roundtrip miles of awesome. Old growth forests, countless rivers and streams, wide valleys, a panaroma of snowcapped peaks, and thousands of cascading waterfalls are just a few of the sights along the way. The now-closed Enchanted Valley Chalet is a popular background for photos.

Other Activities in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park wildlife

Camping in Olympic National Park is the perfect opportunity to take part in other activities in addition to hiking and backpacking.

  • FishingOver 600 lakes and 4,000 miles of rivers and streams (plus 70 miles of coastline), means that fishing opportunities in the park are nearly endless.
  • Ranger ProgramsInterpretive walks, campfire talks, night sky viewings, and other ranger programs give visitors an up-close-and-personal look at the park’s most interesting features.
  • Snowshoeing Miles of snowshoeing trails are popular among winter recreation enthusiasts. Hurricane Ridge is one of the best snowshoeing destinations but make sure to check local avalanche reports before heading out!
  • Wildlife Viewing Birds, deer, marmots, elk, salmon, whales, goats, and beers are just a few of the animals that call the Olympic Peninsula home. Keep your eyes down on the beach to see marine life like starfish, crabs, anemone, sea urchin, and more in the numerous tide pools. Be careful to watch out for dangerous sneaker waves though!

Things to Do Near Olympic National Park

Seattle Skyline with Space Needled

The Olympic Peninsula and surrounding Northwest Washington are filled with countless places of interest. Include additional stops as part of a larger camping road trip.

Here are some of the best nearby attractions to visit before, during, or after camping in Olympic National Park.

  • Neah Bay – At the very northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula is the town of Neah Bay, home to the Makah Indian Nation. It’s known for the Makah Museum as well as its proximity to nearby Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States.

Now We Want to Hear From You!

We’d love to hear about your Olympic National Park camping experience.

How was your trip overall? What was your favorite campground? Did you camp in an RV or in a tent? Let us know in the comments below.

And, don’t forget to check out our other national park camping guides:

Happy camping! Let us know if you have any questions involving camping in Olympic National Park we didn’t answer here!

7 thoughts on “The Best Camping in Olympic National Park”

  1. Wow this is an incredible breakdown of Olympic National Park. I’ve never actually gotten to go into the park, just flown over several times on the way to Alaska–after reading this, I think we’ll be putting it on the must-visit list!

  2. This is a great page – heaps of really good information. I am visiting mid September 2019 and wondering how crowded the campgrounds will be? Especially around Hoh and Kalaloch. Thanks

    1. Mid September is a beautiful time to visit the Olympic Peninsula! Things should have mellowed out after summer by then. Spots should be available at each, but arrive early if you’re camping on the weekend. Last time I camped at Kalaloch in mid September, it was busy but not full on a Saturday night. It’s a pretty big campground with over 150 campsites.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *