Olympic National Park, Washington
According to lawschoolsinusa, Olympic National Park was established in 1938 to protect Roosevelt deer, native forest and the original Pacific coast. Breathtaking views of a snow-capped mountain range, mountain meadows dotted with flowers, old pioneer cottages, coastal tide pools teeming with colorful marine life and plants are just some of the highlights of this park. Ancient tree stands, among the most extensive in the country with trees reaching a height of 100 meters, thrive in deep valleys. Different levels of precipitation create rain forests in the west of the peninsula, while the east is very dry, so forest fires are relatively common.
The wild coast
The park includes 117 km of wild coast. This landscape gives the visitor a glimpse into the world of the Native American tribes that have inhabited this area for centuries. Short paths and the opportunity to explore the lonely, rugged coast with backpack and tent attract adventurous hikers.
Giant trees and rushing mountain rivers greet visitors to the jungle. In the northern part of the peninsula, giant trees grow on Lake Crescent, in the Heart O’the Hills and on the banks of the Sol Duc and Elwha rivers. In the east of the peninsula they can be found in the valley of the Dosewallips River and in the Staircase area. In the west are the last large rainforests of the temperate climate zone.
A 17-mile (27 km) winding mountain road leads from Port Angeles to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, located 5,500 feet (1,670 meters) above sea level. From here, on a clear day, to the north, one can admire the interior of the park, with its forests and deep valleys, its mountain range covered with snow and sparkling glaciers. To the north you can see the Strait of Juan de Fuca with the islands and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. East of Port Angeles, Deer Park Road, a steep, narrow gravel road unsuitable for trailers and RVs, leads to a small campground on Blue Mountain.
Olympic National Park information
Location and Size
The park covers an area of approximately 4,000 km² and is located in western Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula. In 1981 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Most visitors to Olympic Park land in Seattle and either drive via Tacoma or take a ferry (Washington State Ferries, www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries ) across Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula. Ferries connect Port Angeles to Victoria, BC The park is a protected area. Because of this, no roads traverse the rugged wilderness. There is no public transport in the park. Highway 101, from which branch roads enter the park, is suitable for all vehicles. Some of the smaller branch roads are not passable for mobile homes and trailers.
International flights land at Seattle International Airport (SEA). Horizon Airlines connects SEATAC (Seattle/Tacoma) Airport to Port Angeles. Several private buses operate shuttle services between SEATAC and Port Angeles.
From the greater Seattle area and from I-5, there are several different routes to US 101:
- You can cross Puget Sound on a ferry operated by Washington State Ferry-Systems ( www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/ )
- Drive south to Tacoma via SR 16 and crossing Puget Sound at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
- Or you can drive south to Olympia and get onto US 101
between Victoria , British Columbia and Port Angeles operate most of the year:
- Black Ball Ferry Line ( www.cohoferry.com/ ) transports people and vehicles year-round except for a two-week winter break
- The Washington State Ferry System operates a number of routes across Puget Sound, but no routes to or from Port Angeles.
The Olympic Park is open all year round.
Admission is USD 30 per non-commercial vehicle with a maximum of 15 passengers. Motorcyclists pay USD 25. Pedestrians or cyclists pay USD 15. The admission price is valid for seven days.
America the Beautiful Annual Pass
The annual pass costs $80 and entitles you to visit over 2,000 US federal recreation areas and national parks for one year from the date of purchase. The entrance fee applies to the driver and all passengers of a private, non-commercial vehicle (or up to a maximum of 4 adults in total if per-person entrance fees are charged). Children under 16 are free. If you visit more than 4 national parks, it is usually worth buying the America the Beautiful Annual Pass.
The pass can be purchased at many stores across the US and is also available in advance from various tour operators.
The Port Angeles Olympic Park Visitor Center is located en route to Hurricane Ridge at 3002 Mount Angeles Road. The station offers information, an orientation program, an exhibit, a short nature trail, and a children’s discovery room. Other visitor centers are located in the Hurricane Ridge Area, Lake Crescent, Sol Duc Area, Mora Area, Kalaloch Area and Quinault Valley.
Campgrounds are located in different parts of the park. Most of them are open all year round, depending on the weather, of course. Seats are not reserved (except Kalaloch). Electricity connections and showers are not available on the campsites in the park. However, most campsites are equipped with drinking water, toilets, tables and fire pits.
Climate and Weather
The Olympic Peninsula has a temperate marine climate with pleasant summers and mild, wet winters.
Spring is mostly humid, mild and often windy. It is cooler at higher elevations with possible snow flurries.
Summer is usually pleasantly warm with temperatures between 18°C and 23°C. July, August and September are the driest months.
Autumn is generally cool and humid with occasional winds . Early snowstorms are possible in the mountains.
In winter, temperatures at lower altitudes are relatively mild from -1°C to +4°C. In the mountains it can snow heavily with snow depths of up to 3 metres.
|Average temperatures in Olympic National Park in °C|
Due to the unpredictable weather, visitors should be prepared for a variety of conditions. Good rain gear and multi-layered clothing are therefore essential.
Exploring the Wilderness
Olympic Park is a 95 percent conservation area. One can traverse this country on the 960 km of hiking trails on day trips or backpacking. Backpacking permits, wilderness permits, fee information, trail schedules, and food storage regulations are available at the Wilderness Information Center (WIC) behind the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles.
Things to do in Olympic National Park
Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail
This waterfall trail offers a delightful way to explore the Olympic Peninsula. An adventurous route around the peninsula, the trail features large, small, remote, and easily accessible waterfalls. Two waterfalls are only accessible by boat.
The Quinault Rainforest is one of only three temperate rainforests in the Western Hemisphere. Here you can find the largest Sitka spruce in the world, along with hemlock, Douglas and western red cedar trees.
Quinault Rainforest Loop
The Quinault Rainforest Loop is a 46km scenic drive that loops around Lake Quinault on the south side of Olympic National Park. Be on the lookout for Roosevelt elk, deer, cougar, bald eagle, lynx and black bear.
The glacial lake in the Quinault Valley on the Quinault River is located at the southern end of Olympic National Park. The lake is part of the Quinault Rainforest and owned by the Quinault Indian Nation. There is a wide range of outdoor activities here, such as fishing, hiking and cycling.
Kalaloch Beach is a wide, sandy beach along the Pacific Coast about 35 miles south of Forks. The name ‘Kalaloch beach’ means ‘good place to land’. The entire stretch of beach is one of the most visited areas of Olympic National Park. Kalaloch Beach is a must visit if you love breathtaking sea views and spectacular sunsets.
Ruby Beach is located on the Olympic Peninsula – on the south side of Olympic National Park. The beach takes its name from the pink gemstone fragments found in the gray sand. Part of the National Park, Ruby Beach’s coastline offers beautiful views of mountains, glaciers, rainforests and plenty of wilderness.