Olympic National Park

Insider’s Guide to Olympic National Park: Summer Things to Do

Stargaze at Hurricane Ridge, swim in the mineral pools of the Sol Duc Valley, or rock climb Mount Cruiser.

By Allison Williams July 22, 2011 Published in the August 2011 issue of Seattle Met

Astronomer John Goar lugs telescopes up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to talk stars in a one-hour night-sky program at 9:30pm (Aug 1-4) or 9pm (Aug 19-31). During a sunset-to-full-moon hike up Hurricane Hill, the star talk is two and a half hours long (Aug 12 & 13). HURRICANE RIDGE

In the middle of a rain forest, it’s rarely hot enough for a dip in lakes filled with snowmelt. But the mineral pools of the Sol Duc Valley get as hot as 104 degrees, filling perfectly round manmade pools. For a more natural dip, the Olympic Hot Springs are simple steaming pools in the dirt, surrounded only by a few boulders. While once a day hike from the Elwha area, dam removal road closures mean that these springs will require a more intense 14-mile walk from the Sol Duc Valley. SOL DUC

There’s little climbing on the Olympic Peninsula due to the rock quality—scrambling up the brittle rock on the coast’s big sea stacks isn’t recommended. But the jagged peak of Mount Cruiser in the park’s southeastern corner can get crowded with climbers and is the best-known route in the mountain range. STAIRCASE

The only wide-open stretches of even land in the park are on the shores of Beach Three near Kalaloch; the unrelenting winds off the Pacific don’t hurt either. KALALOCH

Much of First Beach near La Push is part of the Quileute Indian Reservation, but the tips of the mile-long stretch are parkland. Waves are brutal on this coast; don’t forget these beaches are lined with memorials to Chilean and Norwegian sailors who perished in these gnarly waves. RIALTO BEACH

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