• Olympic: Three Parks in One

    Olympic

    National Park Washington

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  • Olympic Hot Springs Road Closed

    The Elwha Valley's Olympic Hot Springs Road is closed to public entry beyond the Altair Campground during removal of the Glines Canyon Dam. Olympic Hot Springs is not accessible from the Elwha.

Forests

mossy branch descends from forest of old-growth trees

Western hemlock branch in old growth Douglas-fir/hemlock forest.

" to preserve...the finest sample of primeval forests of Sitka spruce, western hemlock, Douglas fir, and western red-cedar in the entire United States..."

These are the forests of Olympic National Park described in the 1938 act establishing the park. Now the diverse forest communities of the park and neighboring wilderness areas in Olympic National Forest are even more significant as rare islands of habitat surrounded by altered landscapes.

They form a dynamic green canvas from tree line to coast. Heavy snow, avalanches, fire, wind storms, landslides and flooding all interact to rearrange the colors or reset the clock. But the resulting forests are a vibrant, ever-changing palette of greens, textures, species and ages.

Some areas nurture trees that sprouted when the Mayan culture was thriving in the jungles of central America. While youthful willows and red alders sprout and die regularly on shifting gravel bars in the park's rivers.

Ecologists often classify forests by their elevation zone. Click below to learn more about each of these forest communities.

Did You Know?

DYK fisher release

Fishers (members of the weasel family, related to minks and otters) were reintroduced to Olympic National Park in 2008-10. They are native to the forests of Washington, including the Olympic Peninsula, but disappeared due to overtrapping in the late 1800s/early 1900s and habitat loss.