Olympic is famous for spotting Roosevelt elk. President Theodore Roosevelt, after whom the elk are named, designated the land a national monument in 1909 to protect the elk; it became a national park in 1938. Look for Olympic's legendary Roosevelt elk on Upper Hoh Road or on your way to the park from Forks, Washington (shown here on Bell Hill with a view Sequim, Washington).
This glacially-carved lake, hidden among the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains, offers plenty of day activities and stunning natural beauty. Its waters present clear views almost 60 feet deep. It is the only place where rare Beardslee “blueback” trout live. Rent a rod (and a canoe) from Lake Crescent Lodge to hook a closer look. Pole rental $8/half-day, canoes from $20/hour; olympicnationalparks.com.
From Port Angeles, drive south on Hurricane Ridge road for 17 miles. Named for the 75-mile-an-hour winds that can blow here in winter, in summer the Ridge is merely spectacular, offering amazing views of the Olympic Mountains and the Olympic Peninsula coastline.
The Hoh Rain Forest, a swath of green on the western edge of the park, is one of the dampest places in the continental United States (it soaks in an average of 12 to 14 feet of rain each year). See a rich spectrum of greens: the deep emerald of licorice fern, the wan olive of hanging club moss, and the turqoise of Sitka spruce needles. One of the best ways to see this verdant brilliance is the Hall of Mosses Trail by the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.