• Olympic: Three Parks in One

    Olympic

    National Park Washington

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  • Spruce Railroad Trail Closed from Lyre River Trailhead to Devil’s Punchbowl

    The trail will be closed for improvements from the Lyre River TH to approximately 0.25 miles east of Devil’s Punchbowl. Work is expected to be completed by the end of October. The remainder of the trail will be accessible from the Camp David Jr. Road TH. More »

  • Safety Advisory: Mountain Goats

    NPS has received reports of aggressive mountain goats near trails at Hurricane Ridge, Royal Basin, Seven Lakes Basin, Lake of the Angeles, & Grand Pass. Visitors are required to maintain a distance of at least 50 yards from all wildlife. More »

Montane Forests

Forest fire burns dark tree trunks and along ground on a steep slope

Lightning-caused fire burns in a montane Douglas-fir stand in the steep Little River valley of the park.

As you climb from river valleys toward the peaks you enter the montane zone, where new characters enter the forest stage. Montane forest begins at about 1,500­–2,000 feet and­­ transitions into subalpine forests at about 4,000 feet. On the wetter west side of the park, silver fir becomes a major player along side western hemlock. On the drier east side silver fir enters, but only on cooler, north-facing slopes. On sunny, south-facing slopes, Douglas-fir and western hemlock dominate and fire plays an active role in creating a mosaic of different-aged forest.

These forests cover thousands of acres of Olympic National Park’s mountain slopes where growing conditions are more challenging than the lowlands. Montane trees grown more slowly, but many are still centuries old. In fact, a 12-foot wide record Alaska yellow cedar grows in montane forest above the North Fork Quinault River.

Where to See Montane Forest
The Hurricane Ridge and Deer Park roads both traverse montane forest enroute to the mountains. All trails that lead to the high country also cross the montane zone.

 
beams of sunlight penetrate fog on dense forested slope

Sunlight in misty montane forest near Mink Lake, Sol Duc valley.

Common Trees
Alaska yellow-cedar – Chaemaecyparis nootkatensis
Douglas-fir – Pseudotsuga menziesii
Silver fir – Abies amabilis
Western hemlock – Tsuga heterophylla
Western redcedar – Thuja plicata

Common Shrubs
Salal – Gaultheria shallon
Oregon grape – Berberis nervosa
Huckleberries – Vaccinium sp.
Fool’s huckleberry – Menziesia ferruginea
Devil’s club – Oplopanx horridus
Pacific rhododendron – Rhododendron macrophyllum (primarily east side forests)
Bearberry – Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Common Wildflowers
Coralroot – Corallorhiza mertensiana
Bunchberry – Cornus unalaschkensis
Bead lily – Clintonia uniflora
Evergreen violet – Viola sempervirens
Goatsbeard – Aruncus dioicus
Pyrola – Pyrola sp.

Did You Know?

View of the Elwha Valley

Did you know that in 1988, Congress designated 95% of Olympic National Park as Wilderness. The Olympic Wilderness is a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. More...