Olympic Hot Springs are a feature at the Olympic National Park in Washington and located approximately one hour from Port Angeles and three and a half hours from Seattle. Visitors can find the springs by going south through the Elwha River Valley into the mountains and at the ranger station, take the right fork up Boulder Creek Road to the end of the road. Cars can be parked here and the rest of the journey is a two and a half mile hike up to the springs.
The hot springs were discovered in 1892 by Andrew Jacobsen but were almost inaccessible for many years as there were no roads or trails there. In the early part of the 20th century William Everett acquired the rights to the location and built a trail to the springs until a road was built there in the 1930s. Everett and Harry Schoeffel then developed the area in to a resort, which became highly popular, but was closed in 1966 when the lease expired, leaving only the hot pools.
Many visitors still enjoy the walks along the trail, which is nearby to the only walk in camp ground at the Olympic National Park. The trail follows the north side of Boulder Creek before crossing a stream. At this point the path reverses its direction 180 degrees and goes down the south bank to the hot springs, where several pools of warm water are located.
There are seven natural hot springs in this particular area, but it is not certain what mechanism has triggered these, although many believe it is due to the fact they lie on a fault. With the breaks in the rock, this enables surface water to be heated and driven back from the hot interior of the earth. Their temperatures vary from 85 degrees to 105 degrees farenheit.
Camping and fires are prohibited in the area near to the hot pools, but there are many options for visitors to take advantage of. The Olympic National Park has 16 National Park Service (NPS) operated campgrounds with a total of 910 sites. These can usually accommodate RVs and trailers up to 21 feet in length and provide a picnic table and fire pit, but do not have showers.
The campground at Elwha is an ideal spot relatively close to the hot springs and is open all year round with 40 sites in the woodland area of the Elwha Valley. There is running water in the summer but not between November and March. However, visitors cannot take their bikes or pets on the trails, including the trail to the Olympic Hot Springs.
From the trail to the hot springs walkers can also find Boulder Lake and Appleton Pass, which are three to five miles further on. Other attractions are within easy walking distance of Elwha including Madison Falls and the Nature Loop Trail, which are less than a mile away. There are further picnic areas at Madison Falls and tables near the Elwha Ranger Station.