Where To Camp At Olympic National Park's Northern Most Entrance
Once entering one of the most iconic areas of Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge, you are are welcomed with open arms to the Heart O’ The Hills Campground, a beautiful primitive camp nestled only a few short miles from the ridge itself. The first taste of Olympic from this direction, the campground is the perfect retreat for a day or even a week for those wanting to explore the many trails and features within a short driving distance of the northern entrance.
Heart O’ The Hills is a quiet location just south of the Port Angeles area and a few miles within the entrance gate. There are no reservations available for this unique campground so early arrival is suggested on weekends, especially during peak season.
I visited on a weekday in late fall and noticed there were numerous spots available to choose from. Empty sites are easily located by visiting the pay kiosk near the main restrooms of camp, here there is a paper slip system of making occupied spaces, very similar to that of the ones they use by the National Seashores.
Pricing for this camp is very reasonable at only $20 per night, or for those with the Senior Interagency Pass only $10. Unlike many kiosks which accept only cash you can make payment at this location by check as well which allows you an additional option. However keep in mind there are no credit card payments accepted!!
When I explored the camp I noticed two main styles of camping were available, smaller sites which catered to single vehicles and tent campers and larger sites which could easily accommodate larger rigs or double occupancy car groups. While there is a limit of 8 people per site, these larger sites would not feel crowded with 8-12 people in most instances.
Sites are equipped with standard amenities of picnic tables and fire rings. Throughout camp there are bear boxes with shared access for many sites. Additionally, I found that while this is considered to be a primitive campground there are water spigots located every few sites for shared usage. There is no electrical hook ups and at the time of my visit the restrooms were closed temporarily, with port-a-pottys instead located at this area.
Unfortunately by the closure of the restrooms I was unable to determine if there were electrical outlets or even showers at the this campground which did weigh heavily on my mind when staying here. I really wish I would have known, because those two features could take the stay from a great one to an extraordinary stay.
Just beyond the C loop of camp the Heart O’ The Hills Forest Trail can be found. The first of many trails you will want to explore at the park, this trail allows you a glimpse at the beautiful forest around you. Though this trail is nor ADA for those able to walk on slightly uneven ground this trail is one you will not want to miss.
Taking a walk down this trail it was so peaceful and I easily could have lost track of time just discovering the larger than life mushrooms, the massive ferns and the trickling streams around me, a far different setting than my native Texas home.
Firewood is available at this location only seasonably. Should you arrive at camp and wood not be available you can return to the community of Port Angeles and pick some up for a reasonable price point.
If you are going to be staying in this area and are not prepared for bear country, stop at the visitor’s stop when you come into the park and ask about their bear cans.
In an effort to conserve paper, the park is working toward going paperless when it comes to maps, if you happen to be visiting this area download the online maps to your smart phone before visiting or take a photo when stopping at one of the visitor centers.