Best time to visit Washington

Royal Basin in Washington

A heavenly spot in the Olympics surrounded by the Rocky Mountains

Best time: late June–mid-October

Deep blue glacial lakes are surrounded by rugged peaks and fir forests. To see this beauty take a hike along Royal Creek up to the Royal Basin located in the Olympic National Forest, Washington. This is a perfect destination for camping, water sports or swimming in the summer. The best time to visit this stunning spot is from late June/early July through September/mid-October.

The 16-mi (26-km) trail to Royal Basin starts at the Upper Dungeness Trailhead. It can be reached from US-101 and NF-2870 highways. Start walking along Royal Creek and Dungeness River following signs to Royal Basin. You will soon arrive at the Royal Meadows with some fantastic views. The trail goes up to a stunning Royal Lake, 5,100 ft (1,554 m), which is a perfect swimming and picnic spot. It takes about 7 miles (11 kilometers) to get there. Then the trail goes around Royal Lake and goes up past shelter rock for one more mile (1.6 kilometer) to Royal Basin with its milky blue waters. The trail is ending at the plateau at the foot of Mount Deception. The path down is the same as up.

Royal Meadows have wildflowers in the summer. There is also a stream to be crossed on foot, so be prepared to get wet. Olympic National Park has many campgrounds where you can spend the night. Information is available at the Port Angeles visitor center. No campfires are permitted above 3,500 ft (1,067 m).

Practical info

What is the ideal period for visiting Royal Basin?

Late June or early July through mid-October is the best time to visit Royal Basin as the Olympic National Forest and the surrounding areas offer delightful views of blue glacial lakes, rugged peaks, and fir forests. Show more

From where can the trailhead of Royal Basin be accessed?

Located in the Olympic National Forest, Washington, the Upper Dungeness Trailhead provides access to the trailhead of Royal Basin. The trailhead can be approached via US-101 and NF-2870 highways accompanied by Royal Creek and Dungeness River leading to the Royal Meadows, where visitors can relish summer wildflowers. Show more

What distance does the trail cover to reach Royal Lake?

A 16-mile (26-kilometer) journey from the Upper Dungeness Trailhead will take you to Royal Basin. The trail ascends 7 miles (11 kilometers) to reach Royal Lake, where you can swim and picnic. The trail continues further for approximately 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) to the Royal Basin that offers remarkable mountain views and a milky-blue hued water body. Show more

Can accommodations be availed nearby Royal Basin?

There are several campgrounds provided by Olympic National Park, including Heart O' the Hills, Elwha, and Sol Duc campgrounds, where visitors can camp overnight. However, visitors should avoid campfires above 3,500 ft (1,067 m) in the national forest to conserve the alpine ecosystem from fires. Show more

What should someone expect while crossing the stream at Royal Meadows?

Visitors to Royal Basin must cross a stream on foot at Royal Meadows that can be challenging if the water level is high. Prepare to get wet or opt to wear waterproof boots or sandals. The summer season adds another layer of beauty with an array of flowers such as lupines and paintbrushes, which are breathtaking to look at around the meadows. Show more

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Last updated: by Dari Vasiljeva