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Tucked away in the northwesternmost point in the continental United States, you’ll find one of the most untouched wilderness areas in the country. Olympic National Park is easy to access from nearby Olympia and Tacoma, making it an ideal destination for visitors looking to rent an RV in King County for their Olympic National Park camping adventure. Seattle isn’t too far away, either. The park is open year-round, but snow and heavy rains can cause seasonal closures. You'll find an abundance of visitors’ centers and ranger stations where you can learn more about the park's ecosystem.
Olympic National Park, inhabited by native tribes for centuries, is one of the older parks in the United States. It was declared a national park in 1938 after spending a few decades as a national monument. Now a designated World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, the park features a variety of landscapes, from beaches and rivers to rainforests and mountains covered in glaciers.
It’s perhaps easiest to describe things to do in Olympic National Park starting from the coast and going inland. Olympic has plenty of coastline – 73 miles of it – and much of it fronts the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. At Kalaloch Beach, visitors can watch numerous seabirds, including golden and bald eagles, explore tide pools, watch seals, and keep an eye out for otters, porpoises, and whales. Many hiking trails will take you between coastal rainforest, ocean views, and beach access. Mora Beach has a more rugged feel and has some fantastic nature walks. At Ozette Beach, you can walk the beach admire the sea stacks, towering rocks that rise out of the water.
Be prepared for rain when visiting Olympic National Park, as it receives an average of 13 feet of rain every year. All of this rain helps sustain the temperate rainforests found in Olympic. The Hoh Rainforest is popular with outdoor adventurers, featuring lush vegetation like mosses and ferns, and several hiking trails ranging from just under a mile to almost 20. One of the rainforests, Quinault, has a fantastic scenic loop drive for the non-hikers or time-constrained visitors on a rush to explore Olympic National Park in an RV.
After leaving the coastal area and rainforests, you can keep climbing into the majestic mountains in the interior of Olympic. In these mountains, you'll discover fantastic views, waterfalls, glaciers, hot springs, and old-growth forests. Avid anglers can catch and release in mountain streams and lakes, and some of these crystal clear lakes are also perfect for kayaking.
Be ready for a primitive experience when you're RV camping in Olympic National Park. None of the campgrounds in Olympic National Park feature electrical or water hookups, and there are no showers. Most of the campsites are limited to RVs up to 21 feet in length, but a few sites can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet. Nearly all RV campgrounds are wheelchair-accessible and allow pets on six-foot leashes.
Some of the largest and most popular campgrounds in Olympic National Park are the ones near the beaches. Kalaloch Campground offers beachside camping with 170 sites, flush toilets, and drinking water. Mora Campground lies in a forest setting along a river but offers quick access to the beach. You'll find 94 sites here, as well as a dump station, flush toilets, and drinking water. The South Beach Campground is only open during the summer but offers 55 sites on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Drinking water isn’t available at South Beach Campground, but it does have flush toilets. However, the restrooms cannot accommodate campers with disabilities.
Getting a little further from the beach, you can camp at Hoh in a beautiful rainforest setting. This campground offers 78 sites, flush toilets, and drinking water. Heart O’ the Hills, Sol Duc, and Staircase campgrounds are three more campgrounds located in old-growth forests. There are 236 sites between the three campgrounds; all have drinking water and flush toilets and can accommodate longer RVs. Only Sol Duc has a dump station out of the three.
If you brought watercraft for your RV camping adventure in Olympic National Park, you should camp at either Fairholme or Ozette. Fairholme is only open during summer months, but it does have a boat launch. It offers 88 sites with flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station. Ozette is smaller with 15 sites but is next to a beautiful lake. You’ll only find pit toilets at Ozette, but it does have running water. RVs are limited to 21 feet at both of these campgrounds.
There's so much to explore near Olympic National Park, but you don’t need to leave the park to find civilization. In addition to a gas station, Kalaloch also has a grocery store and restaurant with great seafood. The local lodge and resort also have restaurants, delis, and convenience stores for smaller provisioning items.
Olympic National Park is surrounded by opportunity. After returning your rental RV, you can leave from Port Angeles to catch the ferry into Victoria, Canada. The only “direct” route from Olympic National Park to Seattle is via ferry, so you’ll have to drive a little further through Olympia and Tacoma first. There are plenty of provisioning and refueling options for RV rentals in Olympia and Tacoma. Olympia borders Capitol State Forest, another beautiful area to explore.
Once you end up in Seattle, you'll find plenty to keep you and your camping crew busy. Children will enjoy the Seattle Aquarium, and the adults will enjoy the numerous breweries and restaurants. Walk around Seattle, and be sure to visit the fish stands at the local farmers' market.