Olympic National Park has some of the most diverse terrain in the world. The majestic peaks of the Olympic Range, lush rainforests, and coastal beaches are all packed into one incredible landscape. While most people plan their visits during the summer months, wintertime on the peninsula provides an entirely unique experience: one filled with wildlife sightings, hot spring soaks, and all the best explorations of the park, minus the crowds.
While Seattle may be experiencing the usual light mist during the winter months, the coast brings some of the most beautiful stormy weather. Downpours of rain matched with crashing waves onto driftwood lined beaches is a truly unique sight that you can only experience in the winter. Grab a coat and a cup of coffee and witness this incredible phenomenon. To find our favorite storm watching spots, read our blog post Storm Watching on the Pacific Northwest Beaches.
Summertime is a wonderful time of year to visit Olympic National Park, but there is something incredibly magical about planning your visit during the winter. While the park is still open and bustling, there are a lot fewer people and you will find a more intimate connection with the vast wilderness. Did you know that most of the iconic photos taken inside Olympic National Park are from the wintertime? The lack of crowds makes for perfectly surreal photographs and panoramic views with no people in sight, just the way the park was meant to be seen.
Olympic Hot Springs
The volcanic grounds of the Olympic Peninsula have created a few unique treasures hidden in the woods. People travel from all over the world to take a soak in the magical Olympic Hot Springs located just outside of Port Angeles. While one can visit these springs virtually any day of the year, the winter is by far the best time to plan your outing. These secluded hot springs can only be accessed by a 10-mile trek deep into the woods. During the summertime, a warm soak in the pool is nice, but during the wintertime, the contrast between the crisp winter air and the hot healing waters is absolutely incredible. After a long day of hot spring explorations, cozy up by the fire at Maitland Manor Bed & Breakfast just blocks away from downtown Port Angeles.
The steep terrain of the rugged mountains paired with the immense yearly rainfall makes for some jaw-dropping waterfalls. During the wintertime, these falls really shine. The majority of annual rainfall arrives during the winter months which makes for greener mosses, flourishing ferns, and swollen rivers. Check the weather periodically and head to your favorite waterfalls right after a coastal storm to see the falls at full capacity. Check out Sol Duc Falls and Marymere Falls near Port Angeles to see the biggest flows, or Enchanted Valley, also known as the Valley of 10,000 Waterfalls, to see a panorama of gushing waterfalls.
Winter Getaway Specials
You can tour the Olympic Peninsula for less during the winter season. Car rental rates are down, restaurants have seasonal dining specials, and several inns boast winter getaway specials. Explore the collection of unique inns, quaint B&Bs, and boutique hotels all over the peninsula with the Washington INNSiders search and see what kind of off-season deals you can find!
Washington’s salmon are known for one of the most incredible yearly migration paths. Many travel thousands of miles out to sea and then back up the rivers into the Pacific Northwest Mountains. During the summer months, these salmon are out in the Pacific Ocean, but during the winter months, you can spot Salmon swimming through the crystal clear rivers. Keep an eye out for Coho Salmon October-December, Steelhead Salmon February-May, and even Cutthroat Trout January-April.
Explore the Rainforest
With the increased precipitation, the Hoh Rainforest near Forks radiates a deep green that simply can’t be witnessed during the summer months. A trip to the famed Hall of Mosses is surreal during the winter months, resembling the magic forests often depicted in fantasy films. Spend the day exploring the woods (no reservations needed!) and return to the Misty Valley Inn Bed & Breakfast where you can warm up in the scenic outdoor spa and relax in your complimentary plush robes for the evening.
The ‘Big 3’ of Olympic National Park are at their best during the winter season. Beaches are perfect for storm watching and exploring, rainforests are greener than ever, and the mountains are snow-covered and stunning. Plan your trip and cozy up at one of the many Washington INNSiders member inns, B&Bs, and cozy lodges all over the peninsula for a trip you won’t soon forget.
Explore Olympic National Park this winter and let Washington INNSiders help you pick out the perfect B&B, inn, or hotel for your getaway!