As summer officially ended, visitation numbers in Olympic National Park continued their slowing trend, reflecting a bit of burnout and fatigue from the impact of an endless summer. While the park didn’t quite break the three million visitor mark, seeing 2,950,225 through the first nine months of 2015, the sharp decrease in visitors was not as bad as last month. Total visitation to the park was nearly even compared the numbers from 2014, when 2,948,304 visitors came to Olympic in the first three quarters of the year. In September of this year, 391,895 visitors were counted entering Olympic National Park, down from 394,495 during the same month in 2014.
Despite less people coming to Olympic National Park, some park campgrounds are seeing in increase in visitation. Compared with September of 2014, concessioner campgrounds in Olympic saw an increase of 116% attendance throughout the park. For the year, the concessioner campgrounds of Olympic National Park have seen an increase 77%, with 7,763 people being counted at the campgrounds. While concessioner campsites are growing in popularity, tent camping around the 15 campgrounds in Olympic are slowing down for the season. In September, tent sites around Olympic decreased in popularity by 23.8%, seeing 16,411 people. For the year, tent camping is down 14% for the year compared with 2014. In the first nine months, 117,152 campers enjoyed the tent sites, though that number won’t grow much higher. Finally, backcountry camping is growing in popularity around Olympic. In September, the backcountry campsites around Olympic saw an increase of 74.9%, with 18,981 people hitting remote campsites in the month. For the year, Olympic has seen 85,414 backcountry campers, an increase of 24% compared to 2014.
The Elwha Region of Olympic National Park continues to wain in visitation, mainly due to closures of both the Olympic Hot Springs and the Whiskey Bend Road construction product. In September of 2015, the Elwha region saw just 11,461 people, down over 25% compared to the same month in 2014. For the year, the Elwha area of Olympic has seen 126,976 visitors, down over 30% compared with the first nine months of 2014. The trend isn’t bad though, and while numbers will continue to slide through October, the opening of the Whiskey Bend Road in November will help bump the area’s visitation numbers back up. Updated Access info.
The Hoh is insanely popular, and September of 2015 demonstrated that perfectly. In the ninth month of 2015, Olympic National Park’s most famous rainforest region saw 51,725 visitors, an increase of 100% from September of 2014. For the year, the Hoh Rainforest has seen 273,819 visitors, an increase of 39% compared to the 2014 numbers. The trend should continue for the year, but I anticipate a drop in October due to aggressive elk closing the campground along the Hoh River. Learn more about the Hoh.
In September of 2015, the Hurricane Ridge region of Olympic saw 59,088 people. The number isn’t great, but it is only a 5% drop from September of 2014. For the year, 382,063 people have explored the Hurricane Ridge region, making it the third most-popular area in Olympic National Park. In the first nine months of 2015, Hurricane Ridge has seen a 4% increase in visitation from 2014, and should continue to rise in popularity the longer the road is open and snow free. Get stoked for winter at the Ridge.
September was a good month for Olympic National Park’s Kalaloch Region. In the 30 days, Kalaloch saw 86,060 people, an increase of 2.7% compared to the same month in 2014. For the year, Kalaloch is still down 1.2% from 2014’s numbers. However, the Kalaloch Region is still the National Park’s second most-visited region, seeing 475,057 people through the first nine months of 2015. Thanks to the lodge, campground and drive along Highway 101, most people who visited the western edge of Olympic experience Kalaloch in one way or another. Hopefully, it keeps getting more popular for the rest of the year. Hike here.
Lake Crescent is the most-visited region in Olympic National Park, largely due to the fact that it is located directly on Highway 101 near one of the larger cities on the Olympic Peninsula. So far in 2015, Olympic National Park’s Lake Crescent region has seen 1,035,179 visitors, though a large majority probably just drove through. While Lake Crescent did break the million visitor mark, visitation is down for the year and compared to September of 2014. In September of 2015, 98,113 visited Lake Crescent, down 21.9% compared to the same month in 2014. For the year, visitation is down 9.4%. This trend will probably continue due to the increase in clouds, rain and cold weather. Discover more.
While the world agrees that LaPush has some of the prettiest beaches on the west coast of America, the numbers for the month of September are not great. In September, 39,701 visited the beaches of Rialto and LaPush, a decrease from the 43,676 who visited the area in September of 2014. This decrease of 9% is more than likely attributed to fatigue and the return of the clouds. For the year, Mora/LaPush is still doing fine, seeing 304,495 people, an increase 12.3% compared to the first nine months of 2014. The trend of increased popularity should continue to increase, as the beaches here are fantastic for storm watching. Hike here.
Ozette is the least visited region of Olympic National Park each and every year. Located far from any real amenity, it would seem that most would avoid the region altogether, as it takes an extra few hours to get to. Yet, in the first nine months of 2015, Ozette has seen 75,801, an increase of 32% compared with the same period of time in 2014. For the month of September, Ozette has seen an increase of 35% compared with September of 2014. In the ninth month of 2015, Ozette saw 8,869 visitors to some of the most stunning beaches in the world. Explore here.
I love Quinault, and apparently so does everyone else. 2015 has been a great year for this rainforest region of Olympic National park, seeing an increase of 4% for the year compared with the first nine months of 2014. So far, 191,155 people have explore the beauty of the Quinault Rainforest, Rivers and Lake. For the month of September, the Quinault region of Olympic saw 24,479 people, up 11% compared to the same month in 2014. This number should stay steady, as camping is open year round in the region, and the Quinault area has fantastic hiking year round. Stay here.
Finally, the greatest success story in Olympic is Staircase and the Hood Canal region. In September of 2015, the Hood Canal/Staircase region of Olympic National Park saw 12,319 visitors, up 33% compared to the same month in 2014. For the year, Staircase is still becoming more popular, up 24.9% compared to the 2014 numbers. Since January first of this year, 85,680 people have explore the Hood Canal/Staircase Region, each enjoying the multitude of adventures and trails it has to offer. October numbers should be up as well, and Staircase should end the year as the fastest growing region of Olympic National Park. Hike here.
Want to Explore Olympic National Park and see what you are missing?
GET OUR BOOK:
THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO THE OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK & OLYMPIC PENINSULA.