a tide pool can be seen at the front of the image surrounded by mossy rocks with the pacific ocean and seastacks in the background

Seattle To Olympic National Park: Getting There & Best Stops To Enjoy

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Are you wondering the best way to get from Seattle to Olympic National Park? We are giving you two completely different options, both with incredible stops to make along the way!

We’re seasoned travelers who have journeyed several times from the bustling heart of Seattle to the breathtaking expanses of Olympic National Park.

And we know that planning these road trips can be daunting, especially when unsure about the journey and having limited time to make the most of the experience.

But don’t worry; we’ve got your back!

Drawing from our own experience, we’re here to guide you on this beautiful Pacific Northwest road trip.

From the best route to the must-see stops, we’ll give you all the tidbits to make this trip memorable.

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Driving Distance From Seattle To Olympic National Park

Are you ready for an epic journey from the vibrant city of Seattle to the sprawling natural beauty of Olympic National Park?

Brace yourselves for a ride of a lifetime across approximately 140 miles of scenic beauty.

Taking the quickest driving route, you’ll reach your destination in about 2.5 hours.

But, if you’re up for adding a sprinkle of nautical charm to your trip, consider swapping some driving miles for a ferry ride.

The ferry/drive combo is about 85 miles.

📎 Note: It likely won’t shave time off your trip, but it promises to be a unique experience, allowing you to bask in the majestic views from Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula.

seattle skyline with the space needle and other tall buildings in front of a puffy, cloudy sky

Optional Routes From Seattle, Washington, To Olympic National Park

Let’s check out the two options we suggest for your route to Olympic National Park.

Drive From Seattle, Washington, To Olympic National Park – I-5 South

First up is the scenic 2.5-hour drive along I-5 South, whisking you away from Seattle’s urban buzz and through Tacoma’s charming waterfront.

google map of the drive between seattle and olympic national park, down through tacoma and back up the olympic peninsula

Travel To Olympic National Park Via Ferry – Bainbridge Island Ferry

Embrace a different experience from Seattle to Olympic National Park aboard the Bainbridge Island Ferry.

In a 2.5-hour journey, this route offers you a refreshing blend of sea and land as you hop the ferry from Seattle, breathe in the salty sea air, then roll onto Bainbridge Island to continue the drive amidst spectacular views.

The ferry is the way we chose to travel to Olympic National Park, and it has pros and cons. The biggest pro is that you get some incredible Seattle cityscape views as you leave for Bainbridge Island.

The biggest con is the ferry travels on a set schedule, so you can not come and go from Seattle whenever you want.

That said, we loved taking the ferry, and if you are interested in this route, we can’t say enough good things about it.

google map of the route from seattle to olympic national park via the bainbridge ferry

Best Road Trip Stops While Getting To Olympic National Park From Seattle

Time to unearth the hidden gems along the route to Olympic National Park because every journey should be as exciting as the destination.

Let’s highlight the best road trip stops, turning the ordinary into extraordinary and making your voyage to the park a memory-laden adventure!

Along The Driving Route

Unleash your inner explorer as we delve into a trio of treasures along your drive to Olympic National Park from Seattle.

Pacific Bonsai Museum

Location: Federal Way, Wa

Embrace serenity at its finest with our first pit stop: the Pacific Bonsai Museum.

Nestled on the outskirts of Seattle, this hidden gem is a sanctuary of tranquility, housing one of North America’s most extensive bonsai collections.

From the moment you step foot in the museum, you’ll be surrounded by a living, breathing art gallery.

With over 150 bonsai from around the world, the museum is a testimony to these miniature masterpieces’ timeless beauty and universal appeal.

Each tree is a unique tapestry, intertwining the threads of nature, art, and culture.

One of the museum’s standouts is its outdoor exhibition, which artfully displays bonsai against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest’s verdant landscapes.

Here, you can marvel at trees that have weathered seasons, sometimes even centuries, shaping their own stories through the hands of expert bonsai artists.

Guided tours, workshops, and demonstrations offer a deeper dive into the world of bonsai, presenting opportunities for you to not only appreciate the art form but also explore it hands-on.

Exhibits frequently rotate, each telling a unique story.

Themes range from historical retrospectives to the fusion of traditional bonsai with avant-garde approaches, adding a fresh spin to this ancient practice.

several bonsai trees sit on display tables in front of a wall surrounded by green trees, the pacific bonsai musuem is a perfect stop along the seattle to olympic national park driving route

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Location: Tacoma, Wa

Our next stop is the architectural marvel known as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

A sight to behold, this twin suspension bridge straddling Puget Sound serves not only as a significant transportation link but also as evidence of human tenacity and engineering prowess.

A historical landmark, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge carries a dramatic past.

The original 1940 bridge, infamously known as “Galloping Gertie,” collapsed due to wind-induced vibrations just a few months after its opening.

The event sparked an evolution in bridge engineering, leading to crucial advancements in design and aerodynamics.

Today’s bridge, a symbol of resilience, stands tall and sturdy.

Opened in 1950 and further expanded in 2007, it’s an awe-inspiring sight, stretching 5,979 feet across the blue expanse of the Tacoma Narrows strait.

As you drive across, you’re treated to panoramic views of the surrounding waterways, islands, and the distant Olympic Mountains range.

Don’t just zip across, though!

Detour to the Tacoma Narrows Park for a fantastic vantage point to admire the bridge’s glory.

Here, you can learn more about its history through informational plaques and enjoy a picnic with the bridge serving as your backdrop.

USS Turner Joy

Location: Bremerton, Wa

This stop catapults us into the intriguing world of maritime history: the USS Turner Joy.

Located on the Bremerton waterfront, this retired US Navy destroyer is now a museum ship that offers a fascinating glimpse into naval life and history.

Named after Vice Admiral Charles Turner Joy, this Forrest Sherman-class destroyer served the US Navy with distinction from the late 1950s to the early 1980s.

She saw extensive action during the Vietnam War and is notably linked to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which escalated US involvement in the conflict.

Explore the ship from bow to stern, and you’ll uncover a vivid picture of naval life in the 20th century.

Step into the Combat Information Center, tour the ship’s bridge, wander through the crew’s quarters, peek into the mess halls, and marvel at the ship’s weaponry. Each space is a snapshot of the past, preserved for present and future generations to learn from and appreciate.

Guided tours, special events, and educational programs deepen the understanding of the ship’s role in history and the daily lives of the men who served aboard her.

hurricane ridge during wildflower season full of purple flowers in front of a mountainous backdrop

Along The Ferry Route

Embrace the road less traveled and chart a course through the waters as we explore intriguing pit stops along the ferry route to Olympic National Park from Seattle.

Bainbridge Island Historical Museum

Location: Bainbridge Island, Wa

Sail away from the mainland and step back in time as we dock at our first suggested stop along the ferry route: the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum.

Housed in a charming 1908 schoolhouse, this museum is a treasure trove of local history, bringing to life the rich tapestry of Bainbridge Island’s past.

From the island’s first inhabitants, the Suquamish Tribe, to the early Euro-American settlers and the World War II internment of Japanese-American residents, the museum presents a balanced educational and moving history.

Interactive displays, personal narratives, and a wealth of artifacts ensure a deeply engaging experience.

One of the museum’s must-see exhibits is “Ansel Adams: A Portrait of Manzanar,” which depicts the experiences of the island’s Japanese-American residents during their internment in World War II.

The poignant images are a powerful reminder of a dark chapter in our history, eliciting deep reflection and fostering understanding.

After touring the museum, don’t forget to explore the botanical garden that surrounds the building.

Here, native plants tell their own story, intertwining with the history of the island’s people.

bainbridge island coastline with sailboats docked next to a building with an american flag, if you take the ferry from seattle to olympic national park you can spend some time on bainbridge island for a pit stop

Bloedel Reserve

Location: Bainbridge Island, Wa

Located on the northern end of Bainbridge Island, this 150-acre forest garden is a splendid sanctuary where nature’s beauty unfolds in its most pristine form.

Upon stepping into the Bloedel Reserve, you are immediately enveloped in tranquility.

As you meander along the Reserve’s trails, the landscape changes seamlessly, blending natural woodlands with meticulously designed gardens.

Every path invites discovery, and each turn reveals a fresh round of beauty.

The Reserve is divided into distinct gardens.

From the Japanese Garden’s serene ponds and sandscapes to the lush Moss Garden’s ethereal green carpet, every reserve section invites you to pause, observe, and reconnect with nature.

The Reflection Pool offers a moment of pure serenity, and the Bird Marsh, a haven for various bird species, brings nature’s symphony to your ears.

The Bloedel Mansion, once the home of the Reserve’s founders, Prentice and Virginia Bloedel, serves as the heart of the reserve.

Overlooking Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains, its French chateau-inspired architecture is a sight to behold.

Sea Discovery Center

Location: Poulsbo, Wa

Our road trip continues as we journey beneath the surface of Puget Sound at our next stop, the Sea Discovery Center.

As you step into the Sea Discovery Center, you are greeted by a large aquarium that mimics the diverse ecosystems of Puget Sound.

Each tank teems with marine life, from colorful sea stars to playful octopuses, offering an up-close view of the creatures that call these waters home.

One of the center’s standout features is its touch tanks, where you can feel the tickle of a sea anemone’s tentacles or the rough texture of a sea star’s skin.

It’s a hands-on learning experience that appeals to the natural curiosity in all of us, inviting us to engage with nature in a new, tactile way.

But the Sea Discovery Center is not just an aquarium; it’s an educational hub.

Regularly hosted workshops, presentations, and citizen science programs aim to educate visitors about marine conservation issues and the importance of protecting our aquatic friends.

a bench sits in the hoh rainforest of olympic national park

Along Both Routes, After Merging

As we merge onto the same road for both the driving and ferry routes, let’s discuss a few options you can partake in, regardless of route.

Visit A Lavender Farm

Location: Sequim, Wa

Let’s take a fragrant detour and step into a world bathed in hues of purple at one of Sequim’s renowned lavender farms.

Often referred to as the “Lavender Capital of North America,” Sequim’s unique microclimate makes it an ideal place for lavender cultivation.

As you enter a lavender farm, a wave of soothing aroma immediately greets you.

Fields of lavender stretch out in all directions, a sea of purple undulating gently with the breeze. This stunning spectacle is not only a treat for the eyes but also a sensory delight.

The air is filled with the calming scent of lavender while the gentle hum of bees orchestrates a soothing symphony of nature.

Stroll through rows of blooming lavender and admire the variety; from deep purples to pale lilacs, the diversity of lavender species is astonishing.

Many of the farms offer you the opportunity to pick lavender, making for a fun, hands-on experience and a lovely souvenir to take home.

Don’t forget to visit the farm shop, where you’ll find many lavender-infused products.

From essential oils and soaps to culinary delights like lavender honey and tea, there’s a piece of this fragrant paradise for everyone to take home.

a lavender ice cream sign with a pointer sits among a field of lavender in sequim, washington, sequim is a great place to stop for a bit during a seattle to olympic national park road trip

New Dungeness Lighthouse

Location: Sequim, Wa

Where the sea meets the sky, you will find the historic New Dungeness Lighthouse.

Located at the tip of the Dungeness Spit, the longest natural sand spit in the United States, the lighthouse is a proud beacon of the region’s maritime history.

Constructed in 1857, the New Dungeness Lighthouse has guided mariners through the Strait of Juan de Fuca for over a century and a half.

Despite the advent of modern navigation technology, the lighthouse still operates, maintaining its watch over the often-turbulent waters.

Approaching the lighthouse, you’ll trek along the Dungeness Spit’s narrow sandy path, with the Salish Sea on one side and a wildlife refuge on the other.

It’s a beautiful, scenic walk leading to the lighthouse, offering bird-watching opportunities and stunning panoramic views.

When you reach the lighthouse, the sight of the classic white structure against the blue backdrop of the sea and sky is breathtaking.

The climb up to the lighthouse tower rewards you with even more expansive views of the surrounding seascape.

📎 Tip: On a clear day, you might even glimpse Mount Baker.

Salt Creek Recreation Area

Location: Port Angeles, Wa

Our road trip from Seattle to Olympic National Park wouldn’t be complete without a final stop at the mesmerizing Salt Creek Recreation Area.

Situated on the northern coast of the Olympic Peninsula, this park is a captivating blend of diverse ecosystems and breathtaking views, offering a preview of the natural splendor that awaits you in Olympic National Park.

Spanning over 196 acres, the Salt Creek Recreation Area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

The park’s name, derived from a saltwater creek flowing through it, offers a hint of the variety of landscapes it encompasses.

From its rocky tidepools teeming with marine life to its lush forests and meadows, every corner of this park shows the richness of the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty.

One of the park’s highlights is the Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary, a rocky outcrop that, at low tide, reveals a fascinating array of tide pools.

These pools offer a glimpse into the vibrant underwater world, featuring starfish, sea anemones, and crabs.

But please make sure to tread lightly to avoid disturbing this delicate ecosystem.

Beyond the marine wonder, Salt Creek Recreation Area features trails that wind through dense forests and along scenic cliff edges, providing stunning views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island.

From here, the majestic vista of snow-capped mountains meeting the deep blue sea paints a perfect picture of the Pacific Northwest.

small ferns are curled up late in the day along the forest floor in olympic national park

Car Rental

Because we are discussing a road trip from Seattle, we are guessing you have arrived via plane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (just like we did).

As it would be awfully hard to make this trip without a car, we suggest you rent one for the flexibility and convenience they offer when making a trip of this kind.

With your own wheels, you can choose one of the routes, take detours to the highlighted attractions, or pause for impromptu photo-ops along the way.

We always recommend checking out Discover Cars to compare prices because they carry all the big rental companies in one place, like Hertz and Dollar.

🚙 Book your ride with Discover Cars

Best Olympic National Park Tour From Seattle

Not interested in renting a car? That doesn’t mean you can’t head to Olympic National Park for the day.

While you won’t have the same flexibility and won’t be able to make the stops along the way, you can still enjoy the magnificent national park.

Dive into the captivating wonders of the Pacific Northwest on this all-day, small-group tour of Olympic National Park.

Guided by a professional naturalist, traverse old forests, explore tranquil beaches, and marvel at majestic mountain vistas. All this and more in the comfort of a luxury van or SUV, with multiple interpretive nature walks along the way.

In winter, don the provided snowshoes for unforgettable forest treks.

This personalized experience includes a light breakfast, a gourmet picnic lunch, and plenty of snacks and beverages.

➡️ Check Prices & Availability for the Olympic National Park tour

fog and mist rolls in above the trees in olympic national park

Where To Stay In Seattle

Struggling to pick the perfect nest for your Seattle adventure? Don’t sweat it; from luxury retreats to quirky boutiques, Seattle has a unique blend of hotels that are as diverse and charming as the city’s coffee flavors.

Luxury 💵 💵 💵 – Fairmont Olympic Hotel

  • Soak up the luxury: Dating back to 1924, this grand dame of Seattle’s hotel scene offers opulent rooms and exceptional service.
  • Location, location, location: Based in the heart of downtown, you’ll be steps away from Seattle’s top attractions.
  • Treat your taste buds: With its two award-winning restaurants, dining at the Fairmont is a culinary treat.

➡️ Check Prices & Availability at the Fairmont Olympic

Mid-Range 💵 💵 – Staypineapple, Maxwell Hotel

  • Feel the warmth: Known for its friendly staff and welcoming vibe, the Maxwell Hotel makes every guest feel like VIPs.
  • Dive into the arts: With its creative decor and proximity to Seattle Center, this hotel is a perfect fit for art and culture enthusiasts.
  • Pets are VIPs too: The hotel’s pet-friendly policy ensures your furry companion enjoys the stay as much as you do.

➡️ Check Prices & Availability at the Staypineapple

Budget 💵 – citizenM Seattle Pioneer Square

  • Tech-savvy: This hotel is a dream for tech lovers, from self-check-in kiosks to iPads controlling room settings.
  • Convenience at its best: Located in Pioneer Square, you’ll be amidst the city’s historic charm and modern amenities.
  • Economical without compromise: Offering affordable luxury, citizenM has budget-conscious travelers covered with its chic and compact rooms.

➡️ Check Prices & Availability at citizenM Seattle

sunset at olympic national park beach, sea stacks can be seen along the shore with purple and orange sky

FAQs: Olympic National Park To Seattle

Hold on to your hiking boots and coffee cups as we tackle the most burning questions – because who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned FAQ session?

Is Olympic National Park A Day Trip From Seattle?

Olympic National Park can be visited as a day trip from Seattle. However, given its size and diversity, spending more than a day allows you to appreciate its landscapes fully. Remember, it’s about a 2.5-hour drive each way, so plan accordingly to make the most of your visit and expect to only see a portion of the park.

Is There A Ferry From Seattle To Olympic National Park?

While there’s no direct ferry to Olympic National Park from Seattle, you can take the Bainbridge Island or Bremerton ferry to get across Puget Sound. From either terminal, it’s a scenic drive to the park. These ferry rides add a unique touch to the journey but don’t necessarily shorten the travel time.

How Long Is The Ferry Ride From Seattle To Olympic National Park?

The ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton takes approximately 35 minutes. However, this doesn’t include the additional drive from the ferry terminal to Olympic National Park, which takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. So, factor in the overall travel time when planning your journey.

Do You Need A Car In Olympic National Park?

Yes, having a car is highly recommended in Olympic National Park due to its vast size and the distances between major attractions. Public transportation is limited within the park. A car provides flexibility and allows you to explore at your own pace, maximizing your enjoyment of this magnificent natural treasure.

What Is The Closest City To Olympic National Park?

Port Angeles is the closest city to Olympic National Park, serving as a popular gateway to the park. It’s about a 17-mile drive from Port Angeles to the park’s visitor center. The city offers various amenities, including accommodations and restaurants, making it an ideal base for park visitors if you want to stay the night.

a tide pool can be seen at the front of the image surrounded by mossy rocks with the pacific ocean and seastacks in the background

To Finish – Seattle To Olympic National Park: Getting There & Best Stops To Enjoy

This road trip guide has been crafted to enrich your travel experience, allowing you to embrace the beauty of the Pacific Northwest in all its glory.

The journey promises to be more than just a scenic drive; it’s an invitation to write your own unique chapter in the grand book of travel experiences.

As you venture forth, remember that this trip’s charm lies not just in the destination.

The road from Seattle to Olympic National Park is dotted with hidden gems that offer captivating insights into the region’s rich history, diverse culture, and breathtaking natural beauty.

If you want to keep reading about Seattle, we have this brilliant article about it being in Washington or Washington, D.C. Enjoy!