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Overview

Jutting out toward the Pacific Ocean and bounded by waterways on three sides, the Olympic Peninsula remains a slice of remote wilderness despite its proximity to Washington's major metropolitan areas. Much of its mass is preserved as Olympic National Park, a recreational mother lode of glaciated mountains, mossy forests and isolated lakes and waterfalls.

At the center of the park stand the mighty Olympics; rising nearly 8,000 feet, Mount Olympus is suitably named after the haven of the Greek gods. These craggy monoliths wring voluminous amounts of moisture from the Pacific Ocean, resulting in North America's only temperate ...

Jutting out toward the Pacific Ocean and bounded by waterways on three sides, the Olympic Peninsula remains a slice of remote wilderness despite its proximity to Washington's major metropolitan areas. Much of its mass is preserved as Olympic National Park, a recreational mother lode of glaciated mountains, mossy forests and isolated lakes and waterfalls.

At the center of the park stand the mighty Olympics; rising nearly 8,000 feet, Mount Olympus is suitably named after the haven of the Greek gods. These craggy monoliths wring voluminous amounts of moisture from the Pacific Ocean, resulting in North America's only temperate rainforest. Dense, old-growth conifers carpet their lower slopes, towering over glacial lakes and descending to driftwood-strewn beaches where seals and otters cavort around surreal sea stacks. Visitors will find a dozen well-equipped campgrounds and two lodges within the park.

Sections of the coast are still inhabited by Native American tribes like the Makah, whose ancestral culture is presented in an excellent museum at Neah Bay. Ferries access the peninsula via Bainbridge Island, Port Angeles and Port Townsend, an impressive enclave of Victorian architecture.

Daniel C. Schechter
About the Expert

Daniel C. Schechter has contributed chapters to more than a dozen Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the Mexico, Caribbean Islands, Andalucia, Guatemala, and Pacific Northwest guides.

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Daniel C. Schechter for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The Olympic Peninsula is the large arm of land in western Washington that lies across Puget Sound from Seattle. It is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the east by Hood Canal.
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    May to October for hiking and rafting, December to March for skiing and snowshoeing