Olympic National Park EV Travel Guide

One of the cool things about Olympic National Park is the broad variety of places to see. It starts at the coast and climbs high into the mountains of Washington state. So, you get to see everything from beaches to rainforests to coniferous forests like you’d see in Canada. Hiking, sightseeing, photography, boating, climbing, fishing, and checking out the wildlife are all available in abundance at Olympic.

One unusual thing about the park is that there are no roads that go through it. Instead, you have to drive around it like a wheel, with little drives into the park like spokes toward the roadless “hub”. So, seeing most of this park by car requires putting some extra miles in and requires you to do some more planning.

Because the park is ringed by gateway communities including the Quinault Reservation, there are plenty of opportunities for basically every amenity needed, including restaurants, lodging, camping, RV parks, and (most importantly for our purposes) EV charging! While you could easily drive around the park in a day, you’ll probably want to make your way around over the course of several days to really experience it.

It’s also important to not try to stay in the same hotel, RV park, or campsite during a full visit. The low speed of the roads and the amount of driving you’ll want to do means that you’ll want to stop off at different places to be close to the things you’ll be seeing for that day or two unless you want to spend practically your whole day driving.

The park is in the top ten most popular, so you can safely assume that it’s crowded. Because everyone is driving in on the “spokes”, this means traffic. So, choosing when to enter each section of the park is important. Even when well-timed, you’ll spend time waiting at entrance stations because once a certain number of people go in, they won’t let more in until some leave. Arriving at the busier places during off-times (early or later) can make a big difference.

Because it’s coastal, Olympic is less seasonally-dependent than other national parks in Washington state. It’s most busy during June-August, but even during the off-season you can still visit the rain forests and beaches when mountainous areas are closed due to snow. But, it rains in those areas a lot during the winter.

The park is semi pet friendly. There are six trails around the park that allow pets, but pets are otherwise not allowed on the trails. So, you’ll need to keep them in a hotel or campground if you want to go on non-friendly trails. There are some kennels in the gateway communities, too.

Getting There In An EV

Quick Facts and Tips:

  • Washington State is pretty EV-friendly, so getting to the park isn’t a problem. As usual, be sure to use a trip planner app and Plugshare to make sure you don’t run into any problems on road trips.
  • If you need to get a fast charge in Forks to make it and you don’t have a Tesla or a Rivian vehicle, you will want to bring a NACS adapter and wait until support for your EV to use that adapter is ready at the local Supercharger. Or, you’ll want to wait for Rivian (they run the other station in Forks) to open up to other CCS EVs.
  • Good alternatives to fast charging in Forks are to top up at the Forks Community Hospital’s 7 kW L2 station, stay at Bogachiel State Park, stay at Quillayute River Resort, or stay at the Lonesome Creek Store & Resort, aka Quileute Oceanside Resort. If you want to stay in a cabin and use an RV park to charge, be sure to call ahead (like you should at any RV park) to make sure rules for charging haven’t changed.
  • Most other communities around the park have more charging options, including fast charging and slower L2 charging at hotels and restaurants.
  • Only one in-park RV campground has electric hookups.

All in all, EV travel should be easy as long as you use a trip planner to get around and don’t try to rely on stations that aren’t compatible with your vehicle if that’s the situation for you in Forks.

Links For Further Park and Nearby Information

Here are some great videos about what you can see in the park and some of the logistics of a great visit:

Featured image by Danielle Archuleta, NPS Photo (Public Domain).