2. Port Angeles: Olympic National Park Driving Audio Tour
Discover the Olympic National Park on Washington's Olympic Peninsula with this insightful self-guided driving tour. Experience nature at your own pace and listen to commentary guiding you to picturesque highlights, including the Lake Crescent Viewpoint and the Elwha River Observation Area.
Start by downloading the app, which functions as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map. Then begin your tour at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center. From here, you’ll drive through the town of Port Angeles and out toward the most popular parts of the park.
As you drive, you’ll hear about how this landscape formed, the early human inhabitants of the area, and what it took to turn it into a national park.
Then you’ll come to the Elwha River Observation Area, offering spectacular views of the park’s most powerful river, the Elwha. This spot also offers a detour to a hiking trail leading to Madison Falls. Stroll along the accessible boardwalk trail, which ends with a sparkling waterfall.
Continuing along the main route, you’ll learn about the dams that once blocked up the river and the huge impact this had on the ecosystem. Then you’ll pass Lake Sutherland, a picturesque glacial lake surrounded by summer cottages and vacation homes.
From here, visit the larger Lake Crescent, a beautiful lake with some dark stories in its past, all of which you’ll hear as you cruise along the waterfront.
Snap some stunning photos at the Lake Crescent Viewpoint. Beyond that, you’ll see Marymere Falls Trail, a short hike through an old-growth forest that ends with a 90-foot waterfall. Find the perfect spot for a break at the La Poel picnic area on the edge of Lake Crescent.
Next, head to Sol Duc Valley, one of the park’s most iconic landscapes. This valley features ancient forests and mountain views. Pass the Salmon Cascades which in September is famous for the salmon run, where salmon jump out of the Sol Duc river ascending to calmer waters to spawn.
Finally, you’ll arrive at the Sol Duc Falls Nature Trail, an easy but hugely rewarding hike through mossy, ancient groves. Finish the tour here, but if you want to keep the adventure going, you can boot up the bonus tour of Hurricane Ridge, or Hoh Rainforest and the coastal beaches.