• 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.

Rivers and Lakes

Dark forest lines banks of rushing river with fog bank in back.

Planned removal of two dams on the Elwha River will open up 70 miles of pristine habitat to salmon again.

Water defines Olympic National Park. In cloud form it delivers abundant rain and snow. As frozen glaciers it sculpts the peaks. In snow-melt rivulets it waters mountain meadows then feeds powerful rivers rushing to the sea. Alpine tarns perch on peaks and several huge lakes lie in the lowlands. These streams, rivers and lakes are a circulatory system—life-blood of the park's diversity.

A Wheel of Rivers
Mount Olympus, the park's highest peak, is in the middle of the range. Rivers radiate out from the central mountains like spokes on a wheel. On the park's west side, valleys are broad and U-shaped and rivers meander over wide floodplains. On other sides, the rivers are often constricted into narrow, steep-walled valleys.

Highways of Life
With protected headwaters, these are healthy, dynamic watersheds where natural processes like flooding, log jams, and nutrient cycling prevail. To learn more about the watery wealth of Olympic, click on the links below.

 
narrow trees and open slope reflected in still mountain lake water with snowy peak in background
Mount Duckabush and subalpine slope reflected in the still water of Hart Lake in the headwaters of the Duckabush River.

Did You Know?

belted-kingfisher1

The Belted Kingfisher will hover in place directly over a river, lake, or pond, watching for fish before diving to catch them.