Corbitt's National Parks
    Olympic
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1909: Mount Olympus National Monument

1938: Olympic National Park

1976: Biosphere Reserve

1981: World Heritage Site

Size: 922,651 acres

2003 visitors: 2,988,686

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

Olympic contains three very different ecosystems: rugged glacier-capped mountains, magnificent stands of old-growth and temperate rain forest, and more than 60 miles of wild Pacific coast. Since nearly all of the park is designated wilderness, these distinct ecosystems are largely untouched and appear as they have since first seen by westerners. The Olympic Peninsula has been largely isolated by glaciers, by the Juan de Fuca Strait, and by the waters of Puget Sound, and so has developed its own distinct character. Eight plants and fifteen animals are found here and nowhere else.


What You're Going to See

It sounds like beautiful country here, folks. Take your pick of what part of the park you want to visit. Coastline? Find camping, trails, and fishing along some of the most primitive coastline in the United States. Bring your rain gear, because the western part of Olympic Peninsula gets up to 160 inches of rain a year. That's over 13 feet of water a year, which impresses this desert guy.

Or maybe you like mountains? Start in the north side of the park at Heart O' the Hills, where camping is available. Hurricane Ridge provides excellent views of Mount Olympus and of subalpine meadows. Winter activities here include cross-country skiing and snowshoe walks along the ridge tops.

Then, of course, there are the forests that surround the mountains. Trails wander in from all sides of the park, and self-guided nature trails are available throughout the park including Hoh, Ozette, Staircase, Elwha, Quinault, Sol Duc, and Lake Crescent. During the summer months, park rangers lead guided walks, and present evening campfire programs. Folks, there are six hundred miles of trails here. Do you like to fish? You'll find cutthroat, rainbow, Dolly Vardon and brook trout, and several species of salmon. Larger rivers are noted for steelhead trout.

The Junior Ranger program is available for kids.


Personal Observations

Someday I'll get up there. Maybe next summer?

Getting There

From Seattle, you can take a ferry to the peninsula. Go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries for information. If you want to drive from Seattle or Tacoma, take I-5 south to Olympia at the south end of the Sound. Take US 101 west for seven miles or so, and there you must decide if you're going to circle the Park from the east or west. To go east, continue north on US 101; various roads lead into the park, but Port Angeles 118 miles to the north is a good place to start. To go west, continue west on highway 8/US 12 for 45 miles to Aberdeen, then go north on US 101 (which pretty much circles the Park).

Nearby Attractions

30 miles east across the water is Ebey's Landing NHS, on Whidbey Island. About 40 miles north across the water is San Juan Island NHP.