Often referred to as “three parks in one”, Olympic National Park encompasses three distinctly different ecosystems — rugged glacier capped mountains, over 60 miles of wild Pacific coast and magnificent stands of old growth and temperate rain forest. These diverse ecosystems are still largely pristine in character, and 95% of the park is designated wilderness. This means much of the interior of Olympic National Park is accessible only by trail. Scenic drives are possible to Hurricane Ridge, along the Pacific Coast and through the forested valleys of the Sol Duc, Hoh and Quinault Rivers provide glimpses of Olympic’s diversity.
More than 60 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline form a vital component of the park. Vibrating with life and energy this rugged coastline has remained little changed except for the impact of the pounding surf and storms. Arches and sea stacks, crashing waves, the calls of gulls, bald eagles and black oystercatchers, dramatic sunsets, the vastness of the ocean and a myriad of other elements impress themselves upon you. It looks much as it did when Native Americans first built their first villages thousands of years before European explorers arrived. Many tribes continue to live along the peninsula’s shores where their ancestors arrived so long ago.
Olympic National Park is also a World Heritage Site, and is home to temperate rain forest as well as lowland, montane, and subalpine forests. Temperate rain forest is found at low elevations along the Pacific Ocean coast and in the western-facing valleys of the peninsula where lots of rain, moderate temperatures, and summer fogs exist. Part of an ecosystem that stretches along the coast from Oregon to Alaska! The Rain Forest, record trees, glaciers, hot springs (including Sol Duc Hot Springs and Olympic Hot Springs). This destination has recently been featured in National Geographic Travel’s top 10 list!