Kayak and Canoe
If you are paddling in the backcountry and plan on camping, a wilderness use permit is required. Visit our wilderness trip planning page for more information. Only non-motorized boats are allowed in wilderness areas and boats must be carried on trails by foot or stock (in stock-use areas).
Elwha River (Class II-IV):This river can be paddled most of the year, but the best season is in the spring or early summer. The most common put-in sites are in the lower portions of Glines Canyon (Class III-IV) and Altair Campground (Class II-III). Due to the Elwha River Restoration, boating is closed from the Smokey Hill Trail (formally Upper Lake Mills Trail) downstream to the former Altair Campground (permanently closed due to river erosion).
Hoh River (Class II-III): This river offers scenic views of old-growth rain forest, but is frequented with log jams. Always scout ahead before paddling to avoid hazards. The most popular put-in locations are at the Hoh Campground (Class II) and near the park entrance station (Class II-III) on the Hoh River Road. View the Hoh area brochure and map.
Queets River (Class II-III): Queets Rvier is a great place to experience secluded rain forests during higher water levels. In late summer, the river is often blocked by large debris and water that is too low for paddling. Log jam hazards may exist throughout the year. Popular put-in sites are the Queets Campground (Class II-III) above Sam's Rapid and the Hartzell Boat Launch (Class II-III). View the Queets area brochure and map.
Quinault River (Class II-V): For expert kayakers willing to hike into the backcountry, the Quinault offers challenging water. From the Graves Creek trailhead, hike 2.5 miles to Pony Bridge (Class IV-V). This 3 mile route is through a gorge and has a mandatory portage at Dolly Falls. For calmer waters, a popular launch site is near end of the North Shore Road at the bridge (Class II-III). View the Quinault area brochure and map.
Sol Duc River (Class III-V): For experienced kayakers, a 1.2 mile hike up the North Fork Trail in the Sol Duc Valley to the launch site (Class II-IV) offers fun water above Salmon Cascades. For experts interested in rapids, put-in at Salmon Cascades Overlook (Class V). View the Sol Duc area brochure and map.
Lake Crescent: Big, deep, and blue, Lake Crescent offers a scenic paddling experience, particularly in the early morning when winds are most likely to be calm. Winds often come up in the afternoon and can quickly create waves of a foot or more. Boat launches include Storm King Ranger Station and Fairholme. Kayaks and canoes can be rented at concession operated Log Cabin Resort and Lake Crescent Lodge. For a fee, boaters can also launch boats from the dock at Log Cabin Resort. View Lake Crescent area brochure and map.
Lake Ozette: Near the coast and filled with summer water lilies, Lake Ozette offers a secluded paddle journey. Two boat launches exist at the Ozette Ranger Station and Ozette Campground. Kayak and Canoes can also access a few backcountry campsites. Sudden weather changes are common in the Ozette area -- always check the forecast and plan for the possibility of sudden, strong winds and waves. View the Lake Ozette area brochure and map.
Lake Quinault: In a rain forest valley, Lake Quinault boasts mountain views and old-growth forests. Afternoon winds are common here; always be prepared. Two boat launches are found on the U.S. Forest Service operated Falls Creek and Willaby Campgrounds. Boat rentals are available at the concession operated Lake Quinault Lodge. View the Lake Quinault area brochure and map.
The Outer Coast:
The Pacific Coast of Olympic can be challenging to even expert sea kayakers. Beginners should consider trips with an expert guide. If planning an overnight trip along the wilderness coast, visit the wilderness trip planner page for information about camping and permits.
Often ravaged by extreme winds, weather, and tides, it is important that sea kayakers research their routes, weather and tide conditions, bring proper equipment, and be experienced in self-rescue. Tide tables are available at most Olympic visitor centers and ranger stations in the summer. Always review the U.S. Coast Guard's safety and boating regulations.
Review the Washington State Boating Regulations for detailed information about motor boat operation. The use of personal water craft, such as Jet Skis, are not allowed in Olympic National Park.
Motorized vessels are not permitted to land on Olympic shorelines from the north bank of the Hoh River to the park's boundary at the Makah Indian Reservation.
Water skiing and towing by motorized boats is permitted on Lake Crescent and Lake Ozette only.
Motorized boat operation is permitted in the following locations:
Regulations and Operation:
Fishing Boats and Rafts
Fishing from a boat or raft is permitted on the following rivers:
Fishing from a boat is permitted on Lake Crescent and Lake Ozette seasonally. Review the park's fishing regulations for specific dates.
Last updated: November 12, 2023