The climate of the entire peninsula is best described as varied, of the marine type. In the winter, the temperatures stay in the 30s and 40s (single digits Celsius) during the day, and 20s and 30s (negative single digits Celsius) at night. The lower elevations, near the water, rarely receive more than 6 inches of accumulated snow per season, and it melts quickly. However, on the upper slopes, the snowfall can become quite heavy.
Spring is the late half of the rainy season, mostly wet, mild, and windy. Temperatures range from 35° to 60°F (2°-16°C), with lingering snow flurries in the mountains.
Summer temperatures range from a low of 45°F (7°C) in the evening to 75°F (24°C) and up to 80°F (27°C) or higher during the afternoons. In the latter half of the summer and early fall, fog and cloud banks often drift into the valleys and remain until midday, burn off, and sometimes return in the evening. Thunderstorms may occur in the evening in the upper elevations.
The fall is moderately cold and blustery; it ushers in the rainy season, which usually begins in mid- to late October. Snow begins to fall in the mountains as soon as early autumn. Temperatures range from 30° to 65°F (-1° to 18°C).
Rainfall varies throughout the Olympic Peninsula, but about three-quarters of the precipitation falls during the 6-month period from October through March, primarily on the Pacific side of the peninsula.
Seasonal events take place across the Olympic Peninsula, if not within the park itself. They include salmon cook-offs; classical, jazz, and bluegrass festivals; boat races; light opera; and arts and crafts festivals. For a full list, as well as other information about the area, contact the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center (which operates a visitor center at 121 E. Railroad Ave. in Port Angeles; tel. 360/452-2363; www.portangeles.org), or the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission (tel. 800/942-4042 or 360/452-8552; www.olympicpeninsula.org).
Avoiding the Crowds
Avoiding the crowds in Olympic National Park is not as simple as you may think. With easy access from both Seattle and Victoria, BC, the park is a magnet for visitors from around the world. However, a few options are within your control.
The easiest solution is to go in the off season, especially in the fall. September is a great time to visit for the fall colors and visible wildlife. However, starting in mid-October, the west side of Olympic is often deluged with rain.
You might also try driving to the park from the southwest via Aberdeen. If you choose this route, you can see everything the peninsula offers in a nutshell. Instead of going to the Hoh, try the Queets. Although less traveled, this area affords the same rainforest views as the more popular Hoh.
Finally, if you absolutely have to come in the summer and don't want to miss the most popular views, such as those on Hurricane Ridge, try heading up in the late afternoon when everyone else is on his or her way down. You're liable to get spectacular views of the sunset as the fog rolls in and the deer make their evening pilgrimage to the parking lot at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.