Top wow spots of Olympic National Park

From glacier-carved lakes to lush rain forests, here is a constellation of views that no other national park can match

Old Big Leaf Maple Trees

Valerie Henschel / Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau; olympicpeninsula.org

Old Big Leaf Maple Trees

Moss and really-big-tree enthusiasts love Olympic. This photograph was taken at the Fairholm camping grounds. Visit the Hoh and Quinault Rain Forests for more giant trees and moss-covered canopies.

Kalaloch beach in Olympic National Park is one long stretch of wave-battered beauty.

Aramark Parks and Destinations; visitkalaloch.co

Kalaloch beach

Kalaloch beach is one long stretch of wave-battered beauty. A good place to spend the night is Kalaloch Lodge, where bluff top cabins sit less than 100 feet from the Pacific.

Olympic is famous for spotting Roosevelt elk.

Valerie Henschel / Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau; olympicpeninsula.org

Roosevelt Elk

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).

The Olympic Mountains and Crescent Lake

Copyright Lindsay Noechel / istockphoto

The Olympic Mountains and Crescent Lake

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.

See 8 must-see Olympic park destinations

Hurricane Ridge

Dave Logan / Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau; olympicpeninsula.org

Hurricane Ridge

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.

Sol Duc Falls

Aramark Parks and Destinations; visitsolduc.com

Sol Duc Falls

See the wild beauty of Sol Duc on the 0.8-mile hike to Sol Duc Falls. You'll cross a canyon by bridge for an up-close view of three sheets of white water crashing down into a crevasse of black rock.

Hoh Rain Forest

Macduff Everton

Hoh Rain Forest

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.

Pacific Heights

Brad Beck/ Tandem Stock

Pacific Heights

Solitary surfers and sea stacks dot this stunning, moody Olympic coast.

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