Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is located in the state of Washington, in the Olympic Peninsula, in the United States. The park holds 922,650 acres of land that was once inhabited by Native Americans. Most of the tribes were wiped out once European explorers introduced diseases into the area. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the logging industry boomed, but the public began to express concerns of over logging in the 1920’s. However, the first proposal to establish the area as a national park is credited to Lieutenant Joseph O’Neil and Judge James Wickersham, who visited the area in the 1890’s. After political and legislative efforts failed at the turn of the nineteenth century, President Theodore Roosevelt designated the area as a national monument in 1909, under the name of Mount Olympus National Monument. The area was established as a national park in 1938 by President Franklin Roosevelt, under the current name of Olympic National Park.

Olympic National park holds a coastal habitat that stretches along sixty miles of rocky shoreline. This area contains some clear beaches, which are popular among hikers, as well as rocky areas that do not see much traffic. The trees that line this area of the park often produce fallen limbs or trunks, but can also float down rivers, but the driftwood is not removed in order to keep the area original. The western area of the park holds a temperate forest habitat. These areas, like the Quinault Rain Forest and Hoh Rain Forest, receive and average of 150 inches of rain per year. The forests hold tree species like western hemlock, sitka spruce, and coast Douglas fir, as well as a variety of moss species that cover the trees. The eastern portion of the park holds large old-growth forests, but these habitats receive significantly less amounts of rain the than the western side of the park.

Because of the isolated location of Olympic National Park, many unique species have developed in the area. These species include Piper’s bellflower and the Olympic marmot. Other species that reside in the park, like the Roosevelt elk, are native to the Pacific Northwest coast. These factors have led to the area’s designation as a biological reserve, where scientists can study animals and plants.

Olympic National Park holds many roads, but none of these extends to the middle of the park. Visitors must travel by foot on long hiking trails that may take a few days to reach the interior. The park also offers many shorter hiking trails. Backpacking is a popular activity within the park, with one backpacking trail taking visitors along the coastline for several days. Visitors must be cautious when taking this route due to varying tides and slippery rocks. During the winter season, the most popular point in the park is Hurricane Ridge, which offers skiing and a great view of the surrounding area. The Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area, managed by the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club, offers visitors rentals, skiing lessons, and lift tickets. The park holds Hurricane Ridge visitor center, which has a gift shop, snack bar, restrooms, and information desk for visitors to learn about the park. The visitor center is open year round, although other areas of the park must be closed due to rough winter conditions.

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Image Caption: Coast Range Subalpine Fir groves in meadow. Credit: Wsiegmund/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)