American jungle: Olympic National Park, USA

Olympic National Park in the evergreen state of Washington USA (Olympic National Park)

Olympic National Park

The people of America call Washington state the Evergreen state. We drove there when we traveled across the U.S. on our round-the-world trip, One World, to see the natural wonders of the northernmost states and to figure out what makes this area unique. So let’s begin our introduction to the vast Olympic national park, which boasts an incredible variety of landscapes – mountains, rivers, waterfalls, high promontories, the ocean coast, endless forests – all can be seen when you drive to the park, away from the bustle of the city.

Olympic Park

Olympic National Park in the USA

Located in the northwesternmost territory of the States, Olympic National Park is a specially protected area containing a wealth of wildlife.

The park contains three distinct ecosystems:

  • Subalpine forests and wildflower meadows;
  • Rainforest;
  • Pacific Coastal Strip.

These three distinct ecosystems are under special natural protection and can give you an idea of the natural diversity within one park.

Because of its unique location and natural diversity, Olympic Park became an International Biosphere Reserve in 1976 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.

There are Indian reservations within the park, which are not subject to U.S. laws, as the Indians are Native Americans and live autonomously by their own laws.

Information about the park

Olympic National Park in the United States is open to visitors throughout the year. Only some campsites may be closed during holidays or out of season, and you should check in advance about their work on the official website of the park.

Admission to Olympic Park costs $30 per car with all passengers, $25 for campers on a motorcycle, $15 for campers on a bike or on foot. This ticket is valid for 7 days. An annual pass to the Olympic is $55. And an annual pass to all of America the beautiful national parks is $80. Read about the usefulness and benefits of such an annual pass here – in our post about a trip to America.

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Basic information about the Olympic National Park in the table:

Name Olympic National Park, Olympic National Park
Where is it located? On the Olympic Peninsula in northwestern Washington state, USA
Address Olympic National Park Visitor Center 3002 Mount Angeles Road Port Angeles , WA 98362, USA
Nearest city Port Angeles, Port Angeles
GPS coordinates 47° 40′ 52″ N, 123° 30′ 49″ W 47.681111°, -123.513611°
What is it Olympic Park occupies vast expanses of untouched nature, and because of its topography and elevation differences, includes areas with a variety of ecosystems with climates ranging from wet coastal to mountain dry – rain forests, wild Pacific coast, mountain peaks, and glaciers.
Date of park’s founding June 29, 1938.
Hours of operation. Every day around the clock. Some roads and campgrounds in the park are closed for the winter. Visitor Center and Hurricane Ridge Road are closed for Christmas and Thanksgiving
Attendance 300,000 people a year
Cost of attendance Weekly ticket – $25 per car Weekly ticket – $15 per motorcycle Weekly ticket – $10 per bicyclist or pedestrian Annual pass – $50 Annual pass to all U.S. National Parks – $80
Visitor Centers Kalaloch Ranger Station Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station Ozette Ranger Station Storm King Ranger Station Staircase Ranger Station Eagle Ranger Station Elwha Ranger Station
Official website https://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm

For more up-to-date information, visit the official Olympic National Park website.

How to get to Olympic National Park

In the evergreen state of Washington, you have to take Route 101 to Olympic National Park if you’re coming from Oregon, that is, from the South Pacific Coast of the United States, as we were (we drove from Cape Meares). And if you’re moving there from Seattle, that is, from the east, then, oddly enough, the same route, 101. The trail winds around the Olympic Peninsula, most of which is a national park.

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Olympic National Park on a map

How long will it take to visit Olympic Park

It is better to spend a couple of days or even more to see all the sights of the Olympic Park. After all, the park covers an area of 373.5 hectares, and the distances between tourist sites are not small. Neither is Washington State, which this park represents in all its glory.

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Map of Olympic Park

Map of Olympic Park

Large resolution map of Olympic National Park – clickable, click for details

What to see in Olympique – the main attractions

You can either come to Olympic Park from east of Seattle or from the south on the road from Aberdeen. It was from the south that we drove, so we tell you about the sights in the order in which they appear to the tourist exploring the park from the southern road. If that’s not your case, the list needs to be reversed. The main sights to see in Olympic National Park are:

  • Quinault Rainforest & Lake – The lake is surrounded by rainforest and snow-capped peaks. There are plenty of forest trails around it, with campgrounds and an old-fashioned lodge on the shore.
  • Hoh Rainforest is a forest of ancient trees, up to 90 meters high!
  • City of Forks – Once a lumberjack town, Forks is now famous among fans of the vampire books and movies in the Twilight series.
  • Rialto beach offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the tides, rocks near the shore, and the famous Hole in the wall. You can also find the Lost coast with its amazing white fallen trees on the beach!
  • Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point of mainland America in Makah Indian Territory.
  • Sol Duc Falls, a beautiful waterfall in the heart of an ancient forest.
  • Crescent Lake – the crystal clear water and depth of 190 meters makes the lake a great place for boating and diving. There are also many interesting trails around the lake to local waterfalls and through the woods.
  • Hurricane Ridge offers trails through the mountains. Alpine meadows bloom in spring and a ski resort is open in winter. The ridge is almost 1,600 meters high. From such a height you can have a panoramic view of the entire Olympic Park and you can even see Canada!
  • Sequim is a city that lies in the rain shadow, it is as dry as Los Angeles. Deer can also be seen in Sequim, and endangered wild animals find shelter here at the Olympic Game Farm.
  • Port Townsend is a town known for its Victorian architecture. Here you can go kayaking and see whales.
  • Port Gamble is once again a Victorian town. And it is also famous for the fact that the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982) was filmed here.
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Photo of Olympic Park:

rain forest in park olympic

Tunnel into the fairy tale. A walk through the rain forest.

Olympic National Park - u.s. pacific coast

Lost Coast – Lost Coast.

Mountain forests and grasslands in olympic park

Mountain forest and wildflower meadows in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park on video:

Our review of our visit to Olympic Park

Olympic is a huge park, and we loved it! We spent two days here, and honestly think it’s not enough and there’s more to see. Would love to go back! But we are moving on! After seeing all the beauty of Olympic National Park, we continued our road trip across the U.S. and Washington State and headed to the foot of the unusually beautiful Mount Rainier for a morning hike to its summit and one of the trails.

Olympic National Park - Evergreen Washington State

A forest trail through the rain forest in evergreen Washington State

We explored all three ecosystems in the park – the rain forest, the Pacific coastal strip, and the subalpine mountain forests and wildflower meadows.

Here’s what we saw with our own eyes in Olympic Park :

  • On the Olympic Peninsula, a rain forest grows to our great surprise in the northern part of the state, which we wandered through on an early cold morning.
  • Lost Coast (Lost Coast), Wild Coast or Rialto Beach is the name given to the place where a fire occurred in ancient times, but its effects are still visible on the Pacific Ocean.
  • We’ve seen many capes before, and surprisingly, each one is different! Cape Flattery on the Pacific coast, which you reached by walking through the forest on the Indian reservation, also delighted with views of the neighboring island with the lighthouse and the endless ocean.
  • The trek to the waterfall on a frosty morning encouraged us that we decided to walk around Crescent Lake as well.
  • And by the curtain of our introduction to Olympic National Park, we hiked through the mountain forest to the top of Hurricane Ridge, where we enjoyed insanely beautiful views of the mountain meadows and made friends with the local wildlife – marmots, deer, and chipmunks!
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Rainforest Rain forest Rain forest Crescent Lake Crescent Lake
Lost Coast Lost Coast Lost coast Wuthering Heights Thunderstorm Pass Hurricane Ridge
Cape Flattery Cape Flattery Cape Flattery

If you are traveling in the U.S. by car and are planning to visit the evergreen Washington State, you can’t miss the unique natural ecosystems in Olympic National Park. A visit to the park will not leave you indifferent, and walking through the rain forest, wild Pacific coast of the USA and trekking in the mountains will give you a lot of positive emotions and leave a lot of impressions!

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is located on the Olympic Peninsula in northwestern Washington, USA. The park was established in 1938. It became an international biosphere reserve in 1976 and was added to the World Heritage List in 1981.

In the center of the protected area rise the mountains called the Olympic. In some places, this mountain range reaches about 2,400 meters in height. It divides the national park into two parts: eastern and western.

Olympic National Park and its topography, climate and rivers

The Olympic Ridge has a decisive role in shaping the local climate. Its presence explains the difference in climatic conditions in the eastern and western parts of the park.

Turbidids on the coast

In the east, the prevailing climate is dry climateThe western part has the highest precipitation in the country and a tropical rainforest. In the eastern part there are coniferous forests, but they are dry and sparse. The protected area lacks mossy carpet and wildlife, but such areas are great for animal watching.

There are many large spawning rivers in Olympic Park that are home to salmon. The most significant of these is the Hoh Riverafter which is named a unique forest. It is carefully protected and represents a kind of “reserve in the reserve”. The rivers, located in the reserve lands, are mainly used for rafting. Tourists often come to the national park to enjoy the view of Sol Duke Falls .

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Hoh River

On the beaches of Olympic National Park you can see curious geological formations called turbidites. These are layers of sedimentary rock that have formed on the coast and have been compressed by their own gravity and time. Gravity causes them to slide into the ocean, forming rocky ridges in the process.

Rafting in Olympic Park

Olympic National Park and its flora and fauna

Olympic National Park is known around the world for its diversity of species. For a long time, the peninsula has been isolated from the vast mainland areas, resulting in unique fauna and flora on the protected lands.

Nowadays, 8 endemic plant species and 15 endemic animal species can still be found here. In addition, the park is distinguished by the diversity of plant communities in a relatively small area. Thus, the total area of the Olympic Park is 3,735 km².

Tropical Forest in Olympic Park

The national park has alpine meadows, untouched forests, lakes, and more than 60 glaciers. There is a section of the Pacific coast, as well as wildlife habitats. You’ll find Indian reservations (three) and beaches along the coastal portion of Olympic Park.

The local fauna is diverse. There are salamanders, snails, slugs, insects, martens, chipmunks, owls, and songbirds. Large animals are represented by elk, black-tailed deer, black bears, and cougars.

Snow Goat in Olympic Park

Only in Olympic National Park can you see the Olympic marmot, the Olympic stoat, the Olympic salamander, and the Olympic grasshopper. Some of the most interesting species found in Olympic include the snow goat . At low tide you can see sea anemones and starfish on the coast.

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