The Pacific Northwest is known for it's grey and misty weather, with the area averaging at about 156 rainy days a year! While the area sure gets its fair share of rain, all of this precipitation pays off in the summer with lush green endless forests and snow-covered mountains. One of the Pacific Northwest gems that truly benefits from the rain is the Olympic Peninsula. Visit during the summer and you will be greeted with temperate days and clear nights.
In Olympic National Park, you’ll find an incredible playground for hiking, camping, exploring, and boating. You can also stay for days or weeks at a low cost since the camp spots are reasonable. We are sharing with you, our five favorite campgrounds within (or near) Olympic National Park.
Getting there, planning and what to take
The Olympic peninsula is west of Seattle and south of the Canadian border. It’s a flight to Sea-Tac or a road trip but once there, you’ll be astounded at the scope of Olympic National Park. This park offers coastal camping with an ocean breeze as well as alpine camping below the jagged peaks of the South Cascade range. Competition for good sites is fierce so reserve as far ahead as you can.
A few special pieces of equipment for the rain forest or the shore: a rain poncho, eye protection, and a sturdy hat are all advised. The weather (even in summer) can bring rain, and even under overcast skies glare can be an issue.
This sweet spot in the northern part of the park offers tent, RV, dispersed, and group camping. Every site has water, dogs are allowed, and campers often bring canoes or kayaks. The campsites sit along the water’s edge. Getting here is easy, as the main road leads right to the campground. There are only two minor downsides here: some sites are within the range of traffic noise, and it’s a busy place. The campground is usually packed (always in summer) simply because of the fantastic lake access.
Fairholme is a great destination if you are into boating, have a family, or live in the vicinity. Prices are incredibly reasonable, ranging from $10 to $20 per night.
Campers agree this is a five-star destination. It’s a large area (196 square acres) combined with access to the shoreline. Both reservable and a few first-come sites have access to water and this campground includes RV as well as tent and group sites. The area is on the Straight of Juan de Fuca, so very close to Seattle yet nestled in the park. Campers report the playground and amenities are great, but by far the biggest attraction—for adults and kids alike—are the tidal pools. At low tide, watching sea life in these mini-aquariums is a blast.
A big place with a little name, Hoh is world-renowned. It’s no exaggeration to say that Hoh should be at the very top of your destination list. What makes Hoh unique? It is an old-growth rainforest with a stunning array of unique plant and animal life that is found nowhere else in the world. While it’s crowded during peak season, the campground is large and offers plentiful scenic sites. Plan ahead for Hoh: reserve an idyllic spot next to the river. Many campers report that Hoh is the most beautiful park they have ever visited, so it is worth dealing with possible crowds – just be sure to find a spot that meets your needs, whether for privacy or comfort. Remember that rain is in the name of this place so definitely don't forget your raincoat or rain fly!
If you visit the northwest US, you should experience the wonder of at least one natural hot springs. There are dozens of places to soak and camp but we love Sol Duc, located in the northern part of the park, about 30 miles west of Port Angeles. Easy to get to, and easy to love, this campground opens July 1, 2020, and boasts 82 tent sites in a spectacular old-growth forest. Twenty of these sites are first-come (“walk-in”) so you may get lucky just showing up at Sol Duc. For an extra daily fee, all campers can soak in one of the three hot pools or take a swim in the spring-fed swimming pool.
As its name implies, this little gem has all the amenities plus a fabulous view of the open water. Campers who’ve stayed report sparkling clean facilities and plenty to do. This campground is the perfect find for families, with water access and basketball courts, horseshoes, swings, and a ball field. It’s also an excellent destination for boaters; campers report unrivaled boat access. Many of the campsites (tent and RV) have water views. This park has the added advantage of proximity to the town of Sequim. Like all the other campgrounds we’ve reviewed, plan ahead to get the perfect campsite!