• Olympic: Three Parks in One

    Olympic

    National Park Washington

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • Madison Falls Trail Closed for Repairs Beginning July 7

    The one-tenth mile Madison Falls Trail and trailhead parking lot located in Elwha Valley will close to public entry beginning on Monday, July 7 while crews make improvements and repairs.

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?

marmot

Although related to other marmots and groundhogs of North America, the Olympic marmot is unique. An endemic species, it is found only in the Olympic Mountains. Visitors to the high country of Olympic National Park may be lucky enough to encounter a marmot sunning itself near its burrow.