Olympic National Park Facts

Olympic National Park in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula was established on June 29,1938 as a national park by then president Franklin Roosevelt. The area is described by the National Park Service as being like "three parks in one" as it contains the Pacific Coastline, a mountainous zone comprised of the Olympic Mountains and a zone of different types of forests. Consisting of more than 922,500 acres, it is a popular tourist destination and a haven for hikers. More than 96 percent of Olympic National Park is designated wilderness and many portions of the park's interior can be accessed only by trails.


There are more than 60 miles of Pacific coastline included in Olympic National Park and this region remains much the same as it has been for centuries. The beaches alternate between sandy expanses and incredibly rugged rocky outcroppings and boulder strewn areas. The Olympic Mountains dominate the central part of the park, with the highest summit belonging to heavily glaciated Mount Olympus at 7,965 feet high. A temperate rain forest exists on the western side of these mountains--the area receives more rain than any other place in the continental United States. These forests are made up of coniferous tree species like the Sitka spruce, the Douglas fir, and the hemlock and are full of many types of mosses, which thrive in the wet and misty climate. The rain forest eventually gives way to lowland forests, which become sub alpine forest as the elevation level increases. The tree species differ from one to the other, with the hemlock the main component in the lowlands and the cedar tree a major species in the higher regions.



The hiking opportunities that exist in Olympic National Park are endless. There are day hikes and walks that can be taken and just on the coastline it can take days to travel the trails that follow the coast. These trails are a challenge for backpackers and hikers, who need to be acutely aware of the rising tide in some places which can actually inhibit travel. There are many hard to scale rocky areas on these paths and the foggy and often wet conditions that exist can make trips very hazardous for those who are not careful. Getting into the interior part of the park is done by a host of trails, such as the Royal Creek Trail or the Duckabush River Trail. These and other trails take backpackers and hikers into areas dominated by beautiful scenery and the opportunity to view wildlife. Permits are required for overnight stays and camping is allowed in certain areas of the park. Trails lead into the mountainous portions of Olympic National Park as well, with the views of alpine wildflowers breathtaking. A complete list of trails can be found at the Olympic National Park website maintained by the National Park Service.



The wildlife is incredibly diverse from one part of Olympic National Park to the next. People that are on the coast may glimpse, such marine mammal species as sea otters, gray whales, humpback whales, harbor seals, fur seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins and killer whales, in the Pacific Ocean. Further inland, mammals, such as the Roosevelt elk may be encountered. The black tailed deer, the mountain goat and the wild boar live here as do mountain beaver, bobcats, cougars, skunks, black bears, porcupines, mink, weasels, martens, shrew and moles. Coyotes, red foxes, voles, marmots and raccoons are also part of the fauna of this park, with the Olympic marmot a type of rodent found nowhere else on the planet. There are more than 300 species of birds that can be found either living in the park or passing through, with the bald eagle, the blue grouse, the great blue heron, the northern pygmy owl and the trumpeter swan among this number.

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