From the 7,980-foot summit of Mount Olympus, the Pacific Ocean shimmers in the distance, less than 33 miles west. Between the highest peak in the Olympic Mountain range and sea is a jumble of rugged peaks, whose shoulders are decorated with meadows and lakes. Below treeline, scattered subalpine forests give way to steep forested slopes ending in broad, U-shaped valleys. In all directions mountains and valleys radiate from Mount Olympus like spokes on a wheel. How did this range rise to glacier-capped heights from its birth in the ocean? What is the weather like? What does the future hold for the glaciers still shaping the highest peaks? And what plants and animals survive in the mountains, coping with conditions humans would find very challenging?
Where to See Mountains
Though most of the peaks do not have trails to their summits, dayhikes or overnight backpacks on the park's trail system can take you to basins, lakes and passes surrounded by peaks.
Did You Know?
Olympic National Park protects the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt elk in the world. Olympic was almost named "Elk National Park" and was established in part to protect these stately animals.