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Olympic National Park & Olympic National Forest
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK http://www.nps.gov/olym/
OLYMPIC NATIONAL FOREST www.fs.usda.gov/olympic
At Olympic National Park, you'll find Pacific Ocean beaches, rain forest valleys, glacier-capped peaks and a stunning variety of plants and animals. Roads provide access to the outer edges of the park, but the heart of Olympic is wilderness; a primeval sanctuary for humans and wild creatures alike.
The Olympic National Forest nearly encircles the entire Olympic Natiohnal Park with 633,00 acres of additional playground. There are more than 200 miles of trails, many of which wander through ancient old growth forestes. Dogs are welcome on all ONF lands!
History - In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation creating Mount Olympus National Monument to protect the summer range and breeding grounds of Olympic elk. Mount Olympus National Monument was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933. The Olympic National Park was established on June 29, 1938. The 73 miles of coastal land was added to the park in 1953. In 1976, Olympic National Park became a Man and the Biosphere Reserve and in 1981 it was designated a World Heritage Park.
Current - The largest dam removal and restoration project in US history began in September 2011.The removal of the 210-feet Glines Canyon dam continues through 2014. The Elwha dam has been removed and the salmon have begun to return. The Glines Canyon Dam is the tallest dam ever removed in US history. Click here for the National Park website with information about the Elwha RIver Restoration or click here to read the National Park Blog.
Around Olympic National Park
Hurricane Ridge - Towering above Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge is one of the most popular destinations in Olympic National Park and certainly one of the most spectacular. Named for the howling storms that occur in winter, its magnificent vistas stretch far into the interior of the Olympic Mountains, revealing glacier-covered peaks and steep river valleys. A variety of trails allows everyone to enjoy the panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and alpine meadows, and to glimpse elusive wildlife.
In the summer, Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center offers exhibits and a snack bar. Picnic areas are available. Driving time is about 40 minutes from the Olympic Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles to the summit (longer if you take advantage of the many scenic pullouts) about 18 miles on a paved road.
Lake Crescent -
A deep, clear lake along Highway 101, 17 miles west of Port Angeles, idyllic Lake Crescent is 12 miles long and more than 600 feet at its deepest. People tell us that no matter how often they visit the Olympic Peninsula, they never tire of the sight of deep, turquoise blue Lake Crescent! Searching its depths, it's not hard to imagine why ancient tribal talks speak of spirits that hide in these waters.
Lake Crescent offers swimming, boating, camping, picnicking and, of course, fishing in the Park. The lake has several beaches and boat ramps. No matter where you vacation on the Peninsula, you'll want to spend at least one day canoeing or kayaking Lake Crescent's shores and walking down the trail to the footbridge and swimming hole known as Devil's Punch Bowl.
Along with the short hike to Devil's Punch Bowl, Lake Crescent is home to a number of other trails, including the kid-friendly Spruce Railroad Trail. This four-mile trail offers a gentle stroll following the grade of an old railroad bed. Other nearby day hikes include Moments in Time Nature Trail, a half-mile loop that's wheelchair accessible; Marymere Falls, which winds for 1.2 miles through old growth forest up to a spectacular 90-foot waterfall, one of the falls on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail; Mount Storm King Trail, with its steep climb to great views and Pyramid Peak Trail, a 2,600-foot climb with great views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It's always good to check trail conditions before heading out.
Olympic National Park Visitor Center, Port Angeles 360-565-3130
Click for the Park's webcam view of current conditions of Lake Crescent.
Sol Duc Valley -
The Sol Duc Valley offers outstanding beauty and recreation. The Sol Duc River is a lively, twisting salmon stream with many trails and abundant wildlife. After the first hard rains of early fall, you'll find salmon hurling against the forces of the white water rapids to reach their spawning grounds up river at Salmon Cascades. Walkers above and below the cascades can view salmon preparing for their jump or resting afterwards.
Sol Duc Falls is one of the largest and most beautiful in Olympic National Park, with trails and bridges access. It is called out on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail. Easily accessed after about a 14-mile drive winding along the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road and a 0.08 walk to the waterfall. Here the Sol Duc River spills over massive boulders to live up to the river's tumultuous reputation. Scan the skies for low-flying bald eagles, swooping down for an easy meal. In spring there are early steehead jumping the cascades.
During peak season, the Sol Duc Ranger Station provides maps and information about several hikes heading off into the Olympic Mountains. The Park operates its own Sol Duc Campground with camping and RV sites. This is also the site of the world-famous Sol Duc Springs, a resort built around naturally occuring hot springs, now housed in cement pools. At one time, Sol Duc Hot Springs was one of the most elaborate health resorts in the country. The Sol Duc Ranger Station and Hot Springs are 14 miles up the Sol Duc Road near the west end of Lake Crescent.
Mount Walker -
Located on the eastern end of Olympic National Forest, Mt. Walker's panoramic vistas of Puget Sound, Mt. Rainer, Mt. Baker and the Cascades are an easy drive for a phenomenal view. The road to its summit (elevation 2,804) begins at a turnoff five miles south of Quilcene on Highway 101 and takes you through dense stands of Douglas fir to the Mount Walker Observation Area. Spectacular panoramic views can be enjoyed on clear days, as well as walking and picnicking.
Hoh Rain Forest -
Among the few protected temperate rain forests in the Northern Hemisphere, the Hoh Rain Forest and Hoh Campground are popular and breathtaking attractions on the Olympic Peninsula.
Turning east off Highway 101, it is 18 miles up the Upper Hoh Road. The Hoh Visitor Center has exhibits that explain how moisture-laden air from the Pacific Ocean brings an average of 140 inches of annual rainfall to the Hoh Valley, in addition to condensed mist that adds another 30 inches. Three easy loop trails near the Visitor Center give an overview of the rain forest. There is also a trailhead for those wishing to trek into the upper valley and mountainous backcountry. Permits, maps and information are available at the Hoh Visitor Center. Don't miss the outstanding wilderness trailhead exhibits located at Sol Duc and Lake Ozette.
Olympic National Park includes 73 miles of unspoiled beaches along the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula. Added to the Park in 1953, these rocky and sandy stretches are dotted with driftwood, rocky headlands and fascinating tide pools. Take the short trail to Ruby Beach or the three-mile walks to Shi Shi Beach, Sand Point or Cape Alava. Other beaches include Rialto, and First, Second and Third Beaches, by the Quileute Indian Reservation.
At the southern end of the coastal strip, you'll find Kalaloch (pronounced KLAY-lock), well known for its long stretches of sandy beaches and tide pools. You'll also find historic Kalaloch Lodge, a Park concessionaire, offering accommodations, dining, a store and a campground.
Around Olympic National Forest
At the center of the Olympic Peninsula holding the craggy heights, is the Olympic National Park; and nearly encircling the park, on the mid elevations, is the Olympic National Forest. The forest offers a diverse landscape ranging from lush rain forests to deep canyons to high mountain ridges. It is 633,000 acres in size and has two ranger districts - the Hood Canal Ranger District on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula and Pacific Ranger District on the west side. A wide range of recreational opportunities are available including hiking, camping, backpacking, horseback riding, picnicking, and boating. Additional activities such as fishing, hunting, berry gathering and Christmas tree cutting are enjoyed on a seasonal basis.
Seventeen campgrounds are maintained throughout the Olympic National Forest, all with varying overnight fees. Most campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Multiple sites within Coho Campground on the Wynoochee Reservoir and Willaby Campground in the Lake Quinault area will be added to the National Recreation Reservation System by the 2012 camping season. Three historic cabins are available for overnight lodging - the Hamma Hamma, Interrorem, and Louella; these can also be reserved through the National Recreation Reservation System at www.recreation.gov. The historic Lake Quinault Lodge, nestled among towering conifers in the heart of the Quinault Rain Forest, also offers rooms for rent.
Olympic National Forest contains more than 200 miles of trails, many of which wander through ancient old growth forests. Most are located at low elevations and can be enjoyed year-round. Eight nature trails with interpretive signs provide opportunities for visitors to learn more about unique area features and history. Suggested hikes include the four-mile Lake Quinault Loop Trail which leads into thick rain forest vegetation and offers beautiful views of Lake Quinault. The Rain Forest Nature Trail, a relatively easy half-mile loop, highlights many of the rain forest’s unique features.
Five designated Wilderness Areas within Olympic National Forest, accessible only by foot or horseback, offer respite to visitors who are interested in a more isolated experience. Colonel Bob, Brothers, and Mount Skokomish Wilderness Areas are all very mountainous with challenging trails. The Buckhorn Wilderness includes very steep terrain and preserves numerous old-growth stands on its lower slopes. The Wonder Mountain Wilderness is small but also very rugged, wild, and picturesque.
Within the Olympic National Forest some recreation sites require a day use fee. View a list of available recreation passes that may be used in lieu of day use fee payment. Dogs are allowed on all Olympic National Forest lands. Leashes are required within developed recreation sites, such as campgrounds and day use areas. In all other forest areas pet owners must maintain control over their dog, so that it does not harass wildlife or other visitors in the area. Please be sure to clean up after your pet and pack out all garbage! Enjoy your visit to Olympic National Forest!
Visit our website at www.fs.usda.gov/olympic
Supervisor’s Office, 1835 Black Lake Boulevard SW, Olympia, WA (360) 956-2300
Hood Canal Ranger District Office, 295142 Highway 101 S., Quilcene, WA (360) 765-2200
Pacific Ranger District, Quinault Office 353 South Shore Road, Quinault, WA (360) 288-2525
Pacific Ranger District, Forks Office 437 Tillicum Lane, Forks, WA (360) 374-6522
Olympic National Park Port Angeles Visitor Center
3002 Mt Angeles RdPort Angeles, WA 98362