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Free Traveling Guides » States » Washington » Mountains

» National Parks

Olympic National Park, Washington

mount olympus

The stunning Olympic National Park, covering much of the peninsula's mountainous interior and a 57 mile strip of the Pacific coast, was created in 1938 by Franklin Roosevelt, partly to ensure the survival of the rare Roosevelt elk. The park now has the largest remaining herd in the US. More than two hundred miles of wild rivers wind through the park, while the valleys of the rivers preserve sizeable tracts of temperate rainforests.

The Olympic National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The weather here is consistently erratic and often rainy; there is a fair amount of snow as late as June. No roads cross the park, but many run into it, so you'll probably end up making several forays into the different sections around the peninsula's western rim. The main visitor center marks the start of a winding road that climbs seventeen miles to Hurricane Ridge, where the peaks and sparkling glaciers of the Olympic Mountains are spread majestically.

The Park has several opportunities for hiking. Hurricane Hill Trail (three miles round trip) is a moderate hike, climbing through wildflower meadows to the peak where, on a clear day, you can see Cape Flattery, the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island and the Cascade Mountains. In winter, transit buses climb up to the ridge for excellent cross-country skiing.

Ten miles west of Port Angeles, the glacially carved Lake Crescent is popular for trout fishing. There is a tourist lodge here which is the best place to stay on the peninsula. Visitors can also Sol Duc Hot Springs, where mineral rich waters bubble out of the ground.



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