- Olympic National Park encompasses three distinctly different ecosystems
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Olympic National Park
glacier capped mountains, Pacific coast and old-growth and temperate rain forest. Ninety-five percent of these diverse ecosystems lie within designated wilderness area. Over 600 miles of trails provide access to these wild areas.
This terrain has been isolated for eons by glacial ice, the waters of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Due to this isolation, the Olympic Peninsula has developed its own distinct array of plants and animals. Eight kinds of plants and five kinds of animals are found on the peninsula and live
nowhere else in the world.
Recreation - This park provides activities for the novice and veteran mountaineer. A good place to begin any adventure in the park is the visitor centers. These are located in Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh rain forest. They provide exhibits and visitor information, including maps, permits, recreation guides, etc. The Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles is open and staffed year-round and serves as the park's primary information and orientation center. Exhibits are also located at the following ranger stations: Staircase, Storm King (at Lake Crescent), Ozette and Kalaloch.
Nearly 600 miles of trails traverse the park, ranging from short, easy loop trails to rigorous and primitive trails along high passes or rugged ocean beaches. Topographic maps, and often tide tables, are a must for most hikes. Vehicle access to various points around the park can be gained by way of 168 miles of roads. All park roads are spur roads' from U.S. Highway 101.
The National Park Service operates 16 campgrounds with a total of 910 sites. Camping fees vary throughout the park depending on the services and amenities. All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Some campground remain open throughout the winter.
Climate - Olympic has a moderate marine climate with pleasant summers and mild, wet winters. (Over 200 inches of precipitation falls annually on some of the higher peaks.) Summers are generally fair and warm, with high temperatures usually between 65 and 75 degrees F. Summer is the driest season, with heavier precipitation during the rest of the year.
Winters temperatures at lower elevations reach 30 to 40 degrees F. At higher elevations, snowfall is generally heavy, with accumulations of up to 10 feet common. Closer to sea level, much of the precipitation comes as rain, with some infrequent snow fall. At any time of year, visitors should come prepared for a variety of conditions. Rain gear and layered clothing are a must.
Olympic National Park occupies the central portion of the Olympic Peninsula, as well as a narrow 63-mile strip of land along the peninsula's Pacific Coast. The Olympic Peninsula itself comprises the northwestern most tip of the lower 48 United States, lying west of the Seattle/Tacoma area and Puget Sound.