If you’re looking for a weekend road trip from Seattle, it doesn’t get much better than the varied views and ecosystems of the Olympic Peninsula. With rain forests, kelp forests, and much more to see, a road trip is a perfect way to immerse yourself in this remote piece of Washington.
With the Puget Sound separating the area from Seattle, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a quick and worthwhile escape from city life. If you’re looking for a 3-day escape filled with natural beauty (and the wettest of the wet in the continental US), this itinerary will help you make the most of your time on the Olympic Peninsula.
Pick up your van in Seattle and head to the Washington State Ferry Terminal downtown. Take the Bainbridge Ferry and head west. (This ferry is first-come, first-served. If you’re traveling at peak travel times in the summer, arrive at least an hour early.)
Some great stopping points for the night:
Head from your sleeping area to explore more of the Olympic Peninsula. You won’t go wrong with any of these spots:
This temperate rainforest can get as much as 14 feet of rain a year! You won’t believe an environment this lush exists so close to home. The Hall of Mosses trail is less than a mile long and is so enchanting. (2.5 hours from Dungeness Spit or 1.5 hours from Lack Crescent)
This is a great place to stop for lunch and scratch your Twilight itch. If you aren’t interested in a Twilight tour, you won’t need to stay long.
The northwesternmost point of the continental US, belonging to the Makah Tribe. There are sea stacks, kelp forests, and a lighthouse visible from the tall seaside cliffs. (2.5 hours from Dungeness Spit)
Note: As of October 2020, the Cape Flattery Trail is closed due to COVID-19.
This coastal forest is great for tidepooling and seeing sea stacks. (2 hours from Dungeness Spit)
Cabana Tip: Make sure you are driving enough to recharge the batteries. The solar energy is a bit spotty out here!
Explore another part of the Olympics detailed above.
Head back towards Seattle and check out one of these spots along the way:
One of the most visited spots in Olympic National Park. Take in impressive mountain views, and enjoy great skiing and snowboarding in the winter!
This seaside village is full of history and character. (2.5 hours from Rialto, Cape Flattery, or the Hoh)
Visit this historic Norwegian fishing village. Stop to stretch your legs or enjoy a picturesque meal on the marina.
Return the van to your starting point by 11am.
Want to extend your trip? Instead of driving to Seattle, head to Port Townsend and take a ferry up to Whidbey Island. Then head north to the San Juans! (We have a San Juan Islands guide to help.)
This Olympic Peninsula trip will give you an appreciation for the protected lands the PNW holds dear. Especially when traveling in one of the few remaining temperate rainforests in the US, be sure to Leave No Trace so future generations can appreciate the same beauty!