• Olympic: Three Parks in One


    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. Olympic Hot Springs is not accessible from the Elwha. The road is expected to re-open by Summer 2015.

  • 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 »

Snowshoe Hare

A snowshoe hare at Hurricane Ridge crouches low to the ground.

A snowshoe hare at Hurricane Ridge

Ken and Mary Campbell

Snowshoe Hare - Lepus americanus

Snowshoe hares in the Olympic Mountains are quite unique. While snowshoe hares in other areas may molt from a brown coat to a white coat for the winter, the population in the Olympics does not. The "snowshoes," or large hindfeet, allow them to remain active throughout the winter, leaving unmistakable tracks in the snow. Many snowshoe hares become prey to larger mammals during the winter as they are one of the only small mammals that remains active above the snow cover.

Count yourself lucky if you spot one of these creatures. Though snowshoe hares are relatively widespread in the forests and subalpine regions of the park, they are quite secretive and nocturnal.

During summer months, snowshoe hares feed mainly on grasses and other greens. During the winter months, the snow cover brings them closer to conifer buds and shrub bark, which make up the majority of their diet during this time.

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Did You Know?

snow covered forest and meadow

That endemic Olympic snow moles are scurrying beneath this blanket of snow? Olympic National Park's Hurricane Ridge is blanketed with over ten feet of snow for most of the winter, providing water for summer and protection for snow moles in winter.