Olympic National Park   4 comments

Olympic NP 00Where Is It: It’s right outside of Seattle … and the Park is surrounded by Highway 101. Depending on where you’re going, the distance could be about 80 miles, or twice that.

The Birth: The Mount Olympus National Monument was created in 1909 by President Theodore Roosevelt. President Franklin Roosevelt designated it a National Park on June 29, 1938.

It Happened Here: The interior of the Park was first explored with the support of local newspapermen, and many peaks today bear the names of prominent editors and publishers of the late 19th century. These include Mt Meany (Edmond Meany was an editor at the Seattle Press), Mt Dana, Mt Lawson, Mt Noyes, Mt Scott and the Bailey Range.

Size: 922,650 acres

# Visitors: 2,824,908 in 2012. Peak month was August; January was the least attended.

Plants: Over 1,450 types of vascular plants grow on the Peninsula, nearly the same number as the British Isles—an area 30 times larger.

Animals: From the Park’s website:

Old Growth Refuge
The park is a rare refuge for species dependent on old growth forests, including some species protected under the Endangered Species Act. Olympic provides one of the last remaining large tracts of intact primeval forest in the lower 48 states. These moist forests provide essential habitat for northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets and a variety of amphibians.

A Unique Community
The wildlife community of the isolated Olympic Peninsula is also unique. This community is noteworthy not only for its endemic animals (found only here), but also for species missing from the Olympics, yet found elsewhere in western mountains. Pika, ptarmigan, ground squirrels, lynx, red foxes, coyotes, wolverine, grizzly bears, bighorn sheep and historically, mountain goats, did not occur on the Olympic Peninsula. Meanwhile, endemic species like the Olympic marmot, Olympic snow mole and Olympic torrent salamander are found here and nowhere else in the world!

Choices: From the Park’s website:

With three major ecosystems and almost a million acres to choose from, Olympic National Park is filled with possibilities. One of the key challenges that visitors face is how to tackle all of these choices – but we’re here to help!

Our first recommendation is to start your visit at a Visitor Center and get the most current park information. Ranger program times, opening and closing schedules, tides, weather, road conditions, and many other factors can influence your visit. An informed visitor is a happy and safe visitor!

Here are some other tips:

  • Pick up a copy of the Bugler park newspaper. It is published twice annually, to target the summer and winter seasons. Click here for the digital PDF version.
  • Plan your park activities with time and distance in mind. The park is very large and can be accessed by vehicle only in certain areas. Think of the access roads like spokes of a big wheel, with Highway 101 as the wheel’s rim.
  • Consult the park’s mileage chart for distances between key destinations, and note that in many areas reduced speed limits and winding, two-lane roads may increase your travel time. Click here for some recommendations based on your available time (a few hours, a day, or multiple days).
  • Call the Olympic National Park Visitor Center at (360)565-3130 for the current status of park roads, facilities, and campgrounds.
  • Time permitting, we recommend that you try to sample destinations within each of the park’s major ecosystems: sub-alpine, coastal, and forest (which can be further sub-divided into lowland forest and the famous temperate rainforest).
  • Check the park’s Event Calendar for interesting programs and activities
  • Don’t spend all of your time at Olympic in the car! There are hundreds of trails, viewing points, and other opportunities to experience the park beyond your windshield. Take a walk in the woods, watch for wildlife, or listen to a river. Even if it’s a five minute stop at a pull-out, don’t miss the opportunity.

Fees: $15 per car entering the park. Individuals are $5.

Staying There: There are 2 lodges, 2 resorts, and only 17 campsites in Olympic National Park.

Contact Info:

600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
(360) 565-3130


National Park Service: Olympic National Park

NationalParksTraveler.com – Photography in the National Parks: Winter Essentials

TerraGalleria.com: Olympic

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