Planning next years vacation. Is this a decent time to visit? Sep 21 - Oct 4.
Yes, with some caveats. October is my favorite month for hiking in ONP, but it is a transition month. Usually, early October has fairly dry weather, sometimes with brilliant light. Sometimes, as with this year, early October is damp and gray. I actually enjoy hiking in a very light rain, and you might, too, but you need to bring a light rain coat for this. Early autumn is more colorful in the mountains than August, which is something the tourists don't know. All the alpine flowers are past bloom by mid to late August, and everything is dry, but by late September, the alpine shrubs and ground covers flame into orange, scarlet, and maroon. The river maples in the rain forests also show beautiful color.
October is also much, much less crowded than the summer months. I hiked the Spruce Railroad Trail today, and there wasn't one other car in the parking lot. Prices for lodging will be lower, and availability will be higher. However, days are shorter, so make sure you plan your trips for daylight hours.
I agree with Kaleberg. Rain is always a possibility the further into Fall you get especially on the Coastal Side of Olympic, but it is a rewarding time to be in the area.
Thank you. I was at Glacier just last month and LOVED it and decided on going here instead of Utah. Been to Utah before and sounds like this period is their busiest time so started looking here. I want to go somewhere that is less crowded. This sounds perfect and I don’t mind a little rain just don’t want the downpours.Edited: 04 October 2018, 08:38
You'll love ONP. We rarely get downpours; our rains tend to be light, steady showers. Rain can be heavy in December, but you don't have to worry about that. You are likely to have at least some sunshine, possibly a lot of it. It is brilliantly sunny today but tomorrow is supposed to be rainy.
We were just there 9/30-10/5, minimal crowds which is rare for a National Park and wonderful. We had planned Hurricane Ridge hiking 9/30 and 10/1, unfortunately those days were socked in. We drove up 9/30 just to see and you could barely see in front of you, it was windy, rainy, and cold. Was the same 10/1 so no point in hiking. Then had decent weather 10/2-10/4 for Sol Duc, Quinault and beach hiking. In the 40s-50s with an occasional drizzle, brilliant sun on 10/4. Then cloudy with a constant cold rain on 10/5 for our drive back to Seattle. I thought it was worth it due to lack of crowds and the rain was doable for all other hikes except Hurricane Ridge. Pack layers and have a back up plan for Hurricane Ridge (We decided to head to Victoria).
The weather can be very unpredictable in Fall. I spent a lot of time all over Olympic last year in October and it was by far one of the best. Can vary of course from year to year.
We are having an unusually early rain/snow season. There is fresh snow in the Olympics, with a dusting on Hurricane Ridge. Often the first two weeks of October are sunny and dry, but it looks like that won't be the case this year. Today is sunny and gorgeous, but yesterday was cold, with fairly heavy rain at sea level and snow above. This is actually a good thing, as we need the snow to prevent drought next year.