OLYMPIC National Park is a spectacular expanse of glacier-clad peaks, flower strewn alpine meadows, turbulent streams and azure lakes, deep winding canyons and broad valleys supporting a rich forest growth unequaled elsewhere in America. This unspoiled "last frontier," its mountain fastness teeming with vegetation and wildlife, is destined to be preserved as a primeval wilderness, little changed in a thousand years.
Located in the northwest corner of the United States, this park occupies the central interior of the Olympic Peninsula, promontory of the State of Washington, washed on three sides by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Puget Sound. Cool ocean breezes temper the summer weather of the area, and moderate temperatures prevail throughout the year. Little moisture falls in the park in summer. Rains are normal for the region except on the western slopes of the Olympic Mountains which have remarkably heavy precipitation in the winter months.
One of the few remaining areas of virgin forest, Olympic National Park presents a glorious example of the original timberlands of the Northwest in the dense growth which surrounds the Olympic Mountains. In the lower valleys of the western slopes, nature has taken advantage of the temperate climate. Rain falls almost entirely during the winter months, averaging 142 inches annually, and the soil is favorable to produce the best examples of the unique "rain forests," vast stands of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, western hemlock, western red cedar and silver fir, with age-old individual trees of remarkable size. Some of these tree specimens tower as high as 300 feet, and one, the largest living Douglas fir, measures over 17 feet in diameter.
Unsurpassed elsewhere in the world, these "rain forests" are truly tropical in luxuriance, with an undergrowth of vine maple, bigleaf maple, ferns and other jungle-like growth. Mosses drape the branches and trunks of trees in fantastic patterns. Seedlings, in ancient succession, take root on fallen trunks which through the centuries rot away, furnishing food for new trees that in turn become forest monarchs. The ground is carpeted with moss in many places 3 to 6 inches in depth.
The heavy rainfall on the western slopes is the result of warm Pacific air currents striking against the Olympic Mountains, which soar nearly 8,000 feet above the sea. Most of this 12 feet of precipitation falls during the winter rainy season. From June 1 to September 1, the average rainfall on the eastern slopes of the Olympics is considerably less than that in eastern United States.
THE OLYMPIC MOUNTAINS
The rugged Olympic Mountains form a broad mass of snow-mantled peaks which tower above vast evergreen forests and sprawl in raucous disarray over the interior of the Olympic Peninsula, centering around lofty Mount Olympus whose glacier-clad summit looms above the rest. These chaotic mountains, disregarding range formations, are torn by an intricate pattern of deep, forested valleys which alternate with high ridges and peaks bearing many large glaciers and snow fields, great alpine meadows brilliant with wildflowers, numerous mountain lakes, and rushing streams.
Trails give access to the unspoiled mountain reaches through wilderness beauty which enchants excursionists and beckons them on toward further discovery of high meadows, rocky crags, great ice fields, forests, wildlife, and inspiring scenery in continual variety. The highest elevation is reached at the summit of Mount Olympus, which towers 7,915 feet above sea level.
Roads ascend mile-high to Hurricane Ridge and Deer Park where motorists may glimpse Mount Olympus amid the interior expanse and view the spectacular surrounding region stretching in endless panorama far in the distance. Other roads lead up valleys into giant forests.
Described as the "American Alps," the virgin Olympic highlands afford a paradise for the hiker, the mountaineer, or the casual vacationer, and the more than 300 miles of improved trails leading from entrance road-ends offer a choice of easy or difficult excursions.
Rising sharply from bases almost at sea level, the Olympic Mountains are even more impressive than their measured altitude would indicate, since their hinterland is low. Vistas of salt ocean are visible from summit vantages.
The unique wilderness aspects of Olympic National Park provide a proper setting for a distinctive community of animals that now receive adequate protection: The peer of this animal kingdom is the Roosevelt elk, native of the Olympic Peninsula but now nearly extinct in other areas. Large bands of these elk are seen during the summer months along the river bars and in the open, high country, particularly on the western slopes. Their number is estimated at over 3,000.
The more fortunate park visitor may glimpse a cougar or coyote, but rarely. Black-tailed deer are numerous on the northern and eastern slopes, and black bear often are seen, especially when the blueberries ripen on the mountain meadows. Other animals found in the park include squirrels, raccoons, skunks, marmots, mink, otter, beaver, and many others. Mountain goats are believed to be increasing. The eagle, hawk, and raven nest high among the peaks, while grouse commonly are seen along the trails.
Beautiful wildflowers carpet the alpine meadows in riotous color, their blooms representing hundreds of flower species, many of which are not found elsewhere in the world. Heavy mountain snows protect the plants in winter and furnish an abundance of moisture, contributing to their profuse growth in the summer sunshine.
LAKES AND STREAMS
The Olympic Mountains are studded with numerous mirror-like lakes. Lake Crescent, at the northern end of the park, is one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the United States. Lake Quinault and Lake Cushman border the corners of the park at the southwest and southeast, respectively.
Many rivers, with their cataracts and falls, wind through the deep tortuous canyons and the wider valleys. Although fed by live glaciers, most of the streams are not heavily burdened with glacial silt, but are clear. Their Indian names often indicate the character of the rivers; for example, Soleduck means "sparkling water."
ROADS AND TRAILS
Olympic Highway, U. S. 101, leaves the Pacific Highway, U. S. 99, at Olympia, Wash., and encircles the Peninsula, passing through the towns of Shelton, Hoodsport, Sequim, Port Angeles, Forks, Aberdeen, and Hoquiam for a distance of about 368 miles. Approximately 15 miles of the highway are in the park. It passes along the south shore of Lake Crescent for a distance of 12 miles.
Spur roads branch from the Olympic Highway and lead up most of the main rivers through charming wilderness within the park.
Rustic trails lead into and through the park from the ends of the spur roads and make accessible much of the wilderness area. More than 500 miles of trails have been constructed. The trails are safe and passable for both foot and saddle parties.
Hurricane Ridge Road.This winding mountain road leaves Olympic Highway 9 miles south and west of Port Angeles and extends 25 miles to Obstruction Point, affording an excellent panoramic view of Mount Olympus, Bailey Ridge, Mount Anderson, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island, Victoria, B. C., and Port Angeles. Trails branch off as follows:
Olympic Hot Springs Road.Leaves Hurricane Ridge Road 4 miles from Olympic Highway and extends 8-1/2 miles along magnificent Elwha Canyon to Olympic Hot Springs. Trails branch from the road-end as follows:
North Shore Lake Crescent Road.Leaving the Olympic Highway, provides beautiful 5-mile drive through tall timber along the north shore of the lake.
Lake Crescent Trails.All are foot trails from Olympic Highway along south shore of the lake. Lake Crescent is the original home of the famous Beardslee trout of the State of Washington.
Soleduck Hot Springs Road.Leaves Olympic Highway 30 miles west of Port Angeles and follows the Soleduck River 12 miles, through green forest in the park, to Soleduck Hot Springs and 2 miles beyond. Trails branch our as follows:
Bogachiel River Road.Follows Bogachiel River for short distance from Olympic Highway into "rain forests" typical of western Olympic Peninsula.
Hoh River Road.Leaves Olympic Highway 14 miles south of Forks and follows the Hoh River 18 miles to Jackson Ranger Station in the "rain forests." From Jackson Ranger Station is the most accessible route to Mount Olympus. Trails branch as follows:
Queets River Road. Leaves Olympic Highway 7 miles from the Indian village of Queets and extends 12 miles up the Queets River, ending at Kelly's Ranch just outside the park.
North Shore Quinault Road.Leaves Olympic Highway 3 miles north of Quinault and follows the North Fork Quinault River 23 miles to the North Fork Ranger Station.
East Fork Quinault Road. Leaves Olympic Highway at Quinault and follows the east fork Quainault River 20 miles to 2 miles beyond Graves Creek. Trails extend as follows:
North Fork Skokomish Road.From Hoodsport, extends along Lake Cushman 19 miles to point 3 miles above Staircase Camp, near beautiful Staircase Rapids. Trails are as follows:
Duckabush River Road.Leaves Olympic Highway 22 miles north of Hoodsport and extends 6 miles through logged-off land to trails which lead from Duckabush Road as follows:
Dosewallips River Road.Leaves Olympic Highway 26 miles north of Hoodsport at Brinnon and 61 miles south of Port Angeles, and extends along the Dosewallips River for 15 miles, ending at Dosewallips River Trails, in a Douglas fir forest, wildflowers, and plants of transitional zone. Dosewallips Falls Trails are as follows:
Deer Park Road. Leaves Olympic Highway 5 miles east of Port Angeles and extends 17 miles to Deer Park, elevation 5,400 feet; a winter sports area.
The representative of the National Park Service in immediate charge of Olympic National Park is the superintendent, with headquarters in Port Angeles, Wash.
During summer months, park rangers are stationed at Jackson Ranger Station, North Fork Guard Station, Staircase Camp, South Fork Quinault Station, Eagle Ranger Station, Soleduck Hot Springs, Lake Crescent Station, Dosewallips Road Ending, Elwha Ranger Station, and Port Angeles.
FREE PUBLIC CAMPGROUNDS
Camps, with complete camping facilities, are maintained by the Government at Lapoel, Olympic Hot Springs, Altair, Elwha, Soleduck Hot Springs, Lincoln Ranger Station, and Graves Creek. Campgrounds, with simple accommodations, are found at Muncaster, July Creek near Lake Quinault, and Jackson Ranger Station.
HOW TO REACH THE PARK
Olympic National Park is readily accessible from Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and Aberdeen, Wash., Vancouver, B. C., and other northwest cities. Motorists may enter the Olympic Loop Highway by way of Olympia.
Ferryboats cross Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula on regular schedules from Seattle, Ballard, and Edmonds. Ferry service also is available from Victoria, B. C., to Port Angeles.
The park is served direct by the Washington Motor Coach Co., which, with its transcontinental connections at Seattle, Wash., provides frequent and economical service from all points in the United States and Canada. This company, in addition, operates an all expense tour around the park.
Lodges and Chalets.These types of accommodations are operated within the park under Government contract, one at Low Divide, in the central part, by the Olympic Chalet Co., and the others at Enchanted Valley, and at Graves Creek on the East Fork Quinault Road, in the southeastern section of the park, by the Olympic Recreation Co.
Hotels. Within the park, hotel accommodations are available at Lake Crescent Tavern, Rosemary Inn, Storm King Inn, and Ovington's, all privately operated. Outside the park, hotels are located along the Olympic Highway at Port Angeles, Forks, Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Hoodsport, and Sequim, and at Queets and Quinault near the park boundary. Rates are from $4.50 per day and up per person, American plan.
Information on hotels and resorts on the Olympic Peninsula may be obtained from the Olympic Peninsula Resort and Hotel Assn., Colman Ferry Terminal, Seattle.
Cabins.Housekeeping and overnight cabins are available within the park at Waumilla Lodge, Olympic Hot Springs, Lake Crescent Tavern, Rosemary Inn, Storm King Inn, East Beach Resort, Lake Crescent Auto Park, Ovington's, Lenoir's Resort, Lapoel Resort, Soleduck Hot Springs, Staircase Resort, and Lake Quinault. Tourist cabin camps are to be found at many places outside the park along the Olympic Highway and the spur roads. Rates are $1 per day and up per person, depending upon furnishings.
Trailside Shelters.Rustic shelters with split spruce and Alaska cedar bunks, water usually available at a creek or spring close by, and open stone fireplaces where the camper may cook, are found at convenient places along the main trails throughout the park.
HORSES AND GUIDES
Saddle and pack horses and guides are available at the ends of spur roads at Olympic Hot Springs, Whiskey Bend, Soleduck Hot Springs, North and East Forks of the Quinault River, and Hoh, Bogachiel, Queets, Skokomish and Dosewallips Rivers. Rates average $3 per day for horse and $6 per day for guide. Weekly rates and rates for parties of 5 or more persons may be arranged.
Enjoyment of visitors to the Olympic National Park is greatly enhanced by the beauty and interest of its setting in the famed "Evergreen Playground" of Washington's Puget Sound. Throughout the surrounding area travelers find mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, parks, and resort attractions. Nearby is the interesting metropolis of Seattle. The Olympic Loop Highway, U. S. 101, provides a 364-mile tour around the fringe of the Olympic Peninsula, including a 50-mile drive along beautiful Hood's Canal; sweeping views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, Vancouver Island and distant mountains; a 10-mile drive along the wild peninsular coast of the Pacific Ocean; picturesque Indian reservations; busy logging camps and milling towns; and the long sandspits which jut far into the Strait at Port Angeles and Dungeness, forming choice salmon and crab fishing grounds. The highway borders Lake Crescent which nestles among green-clad mountains, and Lake Quinault where native Indians offer river canoe trips to the ocean. Great areas of logged land surround the park offering the contrast of logged and forested areas. A short side-trip leads to Lake Ozette in choice coastal wilderness at the northwest corner of the Peninsula, lying only 3 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, near Cape Alava which is the farthest west point in the United States.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
Let no one say, and say it to your shame,
The following summary of rules is intended as a guide for all park visitors, who are respectfully requested to facilitate park administration by carefully observing them. Complete regulations may be inspected at the office of the superintendent.
Preservation of Natural Features.The first law of a national park is preservation. Disturbance, injury, or destruction in any way of natural features, including trees, flowers, and other vegetation, rocks, and all wildlife, is strictly prohibited.
Registration.All parties entering the park must list their names at the first register maintained in each region visited, indicating the area in which they propose to travel.
Fires.Permits must be obtained for building fires except at designated campgrounds. Fire permits are issued in duplicate, the original to the visitor and the duplicate retained by the ranger. Permits should be turned in to the ranger or guard upon leaving the area. Thoroughly extinguish fires before leaving camp.
Camping. Keep your camp clean. Burn trash and garbage in campfires when possible; place cans and residue in containers or garbage pit. If no container is provided, bury the refuse. Do not throw papers or other trash along roads or trails. Carry the material until you can burn it or place in receptacle.
Dogs, Cats, or Other Domestic Animals.Dogs and cats are prohibited on Government lands in the park unless on leash, crated, or otherwise under physical restrictive control at all times, and subject to permission of the superintendent, secured from park rangers at entrance.
Trail Travel.Hikers and riders shall not make short cuts, but shall confine their travel to the trails at all times. Saddle horses have the right of way over pedestrians.
Hunting.Hunting within park is prohibited. No firearms allowed, except as provided for through permission of the superintendent secured from park ranger on entering the park.
Fishing.A State or county fishing license is required. A State license is $3 for residents and $5 for non-residents; a county license for non-residents, $3.
Park Rangers.Park rangers are public servants. They are here to answer your questions and otherwise help you in every possible way. Help them to serve you better by observing all regulations.
Last Updated: 20-Jun-2010