Hiking Trails in Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park
Appleton Pass Trailhead
- Boulder Lake - 11.6 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Olympic Hot Springs - Boulder Creek - 4.8 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Aurora Ridge Trailhead - Sol Duc
Bogachiel River Trailhead
- Bogachiel River Trail - 11.6 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Wetlands Loop Trail - 3.0 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
Deer Park Trailhead
Dosewallips River Trailhead
Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
Elwha Valley - Whiskey Bend Trailhead
- Elwha River Trail to Marys Falls - 17.7 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Humes Ranch Loop - 5.65 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Graves Creek Trailhead
- Enchanted Valley - 26.1 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Pony Bridge - 5.5 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Happy Lake Ridge Trailhead
Heart O' The Hills Trailhead
- Heather Park Trail - 11.8 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Klahhane Ridge Loop - 11.7 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Lake Angeles - 6.4 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Hoh Rainforest Trailhead
- Hall of Mosses - 0.8 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Hoh River Trail to Elk Lake - 30.2 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Hurricane Hill Trailhead
Hurricane Ridge - Switchback Trailhead
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center
- High Ridge - Cirque Rim Nature Loop - 1.5 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Klahhane Ridge via Hurricane Ridge - 7.2 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Mount Angeles - 6.0 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Kalaloch - Ruby Beach Trails
Kloshe Nanitch Lower Trailhead
La Push - Mora Beach Trails
- Chilean Memorial - 7.4 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Rialto Beach - 3.2 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
- Rialto to Ozette Thru Hike - 20.1 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Second Beach - 1.4 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Third Beach - 2.7 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Third Beach to Toleak Point - 12.8 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Lake Crescent - Pyramid Peak Trailhead
Lake Crescent - Spruce Railroad Trailhead
Lake Crescent - Storm King Trailhead
- Barnes Creek Trail - Lake Crescent - 13.0 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Marymere Falls - 1.7 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Mount Storm King Trail - 3.8 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Lena Lake Trailhead
- Lena Lake - 6.1 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
- Upper Lena Lake - 13.1 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Little River Trailhead
- Little River Falls - 5.5 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Little River Trail to Hurricane Ridge - 18.0 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Lower Gray Wolf Trailhead
Madison Falls Trailhead
Mildred Lakes Trailhead
Mink Lake Trailhead
- Little Divide Loop - 13.7 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Lovers Lane Trail - Sol Duc Falls - 6.1 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Mink Lake - 4.8 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Mount Ellinor Trailhead
Mount Jupiter Trailhead
Mount Muller Trailhead
Mount Townsend Trailhead
- Mount Townsend - 8.0 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
- Silver Lake - 10.4 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
Mount Walker Trailhead - Olympic National Forest
Mount Zion Trailhead - Olympic National Forest
North Fork Quinault River Trailhead
Obstruction Point Trailhead
- Badger Valley - Grand Lake Loop - 8.4 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Cameron Pass - 22.0 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Deer Park Trail - 14.9 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Grand Lake - 7.6 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Grand Pass - 11.9 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Ozette Coast Trailhead
- Cape Alava Trail - 6.5 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Ozette Coast Loop - 9.2 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Sand Point Trail - 5.9 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Queets River Trailhead
- Queets River Trail - 23.2 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Sam's River Loop - 2.95 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Salt Creek Recreation Area
Shi Shi Beach Trailhead
Slab Camp Trailhead
- Gray Wolf Camp - 15.2 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
- Upper Gray Wolf River Trail - 21.0 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
Snider Jackson - Rugged Ridge Trailhead
Sol Duc Hot Springs Road
- Ancient Groves Nature Trail - 0.4 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- North Fork Sol Duc Trail - 12.1 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Sol Duc Trailhead
- Appleton Pass - 14.6 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Deer Lake - 6.8 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Heart Lake - 15.7 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- High Divide Loop - 18.1 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Hoh Lake - 18.3 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Lunch Lake - 15.6 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- Sol Duc Falls - 1.5 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
South Fork Hoh Trailhead
Staircase - North Fork Skokomish River Trailhead
- Flapjack Lakes - 14.9 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
- North Fork Skokomish River Trail to First Divide - 26.2 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
Tubal Cain Trailhead
- Buckhorn Lake - 10.8 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
- Buckhorn Mountain - 16.2 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
- Buckhorn Pass - 12.4 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
- Marmot Pass - Tubal Cain - 16.0 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
Tunnel Creek Trailhead
Upper Big Quilcene Trailhead
Upper Dungeness Trailhead
- Home Lake - Constance Pass - 19.6 miles roundtrip - Dogs Allowed
- Royal Basin - 13.6 miles roundtrip - No Dogs Allowed
West Elwha Trailhead
Olympic National Park - Photos
- A Gallery of Wildflowers in Olympic National Park
- A Gallery of Wildlife on the Olympic Peninsula
- Alpine and Subalpine Lakes of the Olympic Peninsula
- Appleton Pass
- Aurora Ridge - Eagle Lakes
- Badger Valley - Grand Lake Loop
- Barnes Creek Trail - Lake Crescent
- Bogachiel River Trail
- Boulder Lake - Olympic National Park
- Buckhorn Mountain - Buckhorn Lake and Pass
- Cameron Pass
- Deer Park Trail
- Dosewallips to Anderson Pass
- Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
- Elwha River Trail
- Enchanted Valley
- Flapjack Lakes
- Grand Valley
- Happy Lake - Happy Ridge Trail
- Harrison Lake - Tunnel Creek
- Heart Lake
- Heather Park Trail
- Hoh Rainforest - South Fork
- Hoh River Trail to Elk Lake
- Home Lake - Constance Pass
- Humes Ranch Loop
- Hurricane Hill
- Hurricane Ridge Nature Trails
- Kalaloch Beaches
- Klahhane Ridge Loop
- Kloshe Nanitch Lookout
- Lake Angeles
- Lake Crescent - Mount Storm King Trail
- Lake Crescent - Pyramid Peak Trail
- Lake Crescent - Spruce Railroad Trail
- Lake of the Angels
- Lena Lake and Upper Lena Lake
- Little Divide Loop
- Little River Trail: Little River Falls - Hurricane Ridge
- Lovers Lane Trail - Mink Lake Trailhead
- Lower Gray Wolf River Trail
- Marmot Pass - Big Quilcene Trail
- Marymere Falls and Madison Falls
- Mildred Lakes
- Mink Lake
- Mount Angeles - Klahhane Ridge
- Mount Ellinor
- Mount Jupiter
- Mount Muller Loop Trail
- Mount Townsend
- Mount Walker - Olympic National Forest
- Mount Zion - Olympic National Forest
- North Fork Quinault River Trail
- North Fork Skokomish River Trail
- North Fork Sol Duc Trail
- Olympic Hot Springs - Boulder Creek Trail
- Ozette Coast Loop: Sand Point Beach - Cape Alava Trail
- Queets River Trail
- Rialto Beach
- Rialto Beach to Chilean Memorial
- Rialto to Ozette Thru Hike
- Royal Basin
- Ruby Beach
- Salt Creek Recreation Area: Striped Peak
- Sam's River Loop
- Second Beach and Third Beach
- Seven Lakes Basin - High Divide Loop
- Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches
- Silver Lakes - Mount Townsend
- Sol Duc Falls
- Three Forks Trail to Three Forks Camp
- Toleak Point
- Upper Gray Wolf River Trail
- West Elwha Trail - Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park - Camping
Camping, Campgrounds and Backpacking in Olympic National Park
Olympic has 16 NPS-operated campgrounds with a total of 910 sites. Concession-operated RV parks are located within the park at theÂ Sol Duc Hot Springs ResortÂ andÂ Log Cabin ResortÂ on Lake Crescent.
* Campgrounds can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 21 feet in length, unless otherwise posted.
* Campground toilets are wheelchair accessible, unless otherwise posted.
* All campsites are first-come, first-served, except for Kalaloch Campground.
* All park campsites provide a picnic table and fire pit.
* Park campgrounds do not have hook-ups or showers.
* Group campgroundsÂ are provided at Sol Duc and Kalaloch.
The concession-operated Kalaloch Lodge administers a group campsite with a maximum group size of 30 people. There is a 7 day maximum stay.
Running water and pit toilets only are provided.
The site has limited parking and RV use is discouraged.
Reservations accepted by phone only at (360) 962-2271. There is a $20 non-refundable reservation fee, plus a $2 per person per night camping fee.
This group site, managed by the National Park Service, can accommodate groups of up to 24 people, with a 7 day maximum stay. Minimum group size is 9 people. This site is for organized groups only. The site can accommodate up to eight head of stock.
There is no running water but pit toilets are available. Water can be packed in from ranger station or filtered from a nearby stream.
Reservations accepted by phone only. March 1st through April 15 by calling the Storm King Ranger Station at (360) 928-3380. April 16 through October 31 call the Eagle Ranger Station at (360) 327-3534.
There is a $20 non-refundable reservation fee, plus a $1 per person per night camping fee.
Wilderness Camping Permits
Wilderness Camping Permits are requiredÂ for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park wilderness (backcountry). Be sure to check to see ifÂ reservationsÂ are needed. Permits are limited in some areas.
Wilderness Camping Permits may be obtained at:
MainÂ Wilderness Information Center (WIC)Â in Port Angeles in person or by phone. The WIC is located within the Olympic National Park Visitor Center. Phone: (360) 565-3100
Quinault Wilderness Information CenterÂ located at the South Shore Lake Quinault Forest Service Ranger Station. Phone: (360) 288-0232
Olympic National Park/Olympic National Forest Recreation Information StationÂ in Forks. Phone: (360) 374-7566
Staircase Ranger StationÂ near Hoodsport. Phone: (360) 877-5569.
Call the WIC at (360) 565-3100 to check on station hours and seasons or for more information about getting your permit.
If you are not passing by a park wilderness office on your way to the trailhead or you plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange your permit ahead of time.
Wilderness Use Fee
The fee for Wilderness Camping Permits is $5 to register per group (for groups up to 12 people), plus $2 per person per night. There is no nightly charge for youth 15 years of age and under.
Annual passes are available for frequent wilderness visitors for $30; $15 for each additional household member. Interagency Senior/Access are 50% discount.
Maximum rates: $50.00 for trips up of to 14 nights with a party of up to 6 people $100.00 for trips of up to 14 nights with groups of 7-12 people.
Wilderness use fees help support visitor management projects like trail maintenance, backcountry bridge replacement, pit toilets, revegetation projects and Wilderness Information Centers. Eighty percent of the fees collected are returned directly to Olympic for wilderness management projects. The other twenty percent goes to parks that do not charge fees.
How to pay: The WIC in Port Angeles accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, checks and cash. At staffed ranger stations where wilderness permits are available, wilderness use fees may be paid by credit card, cash or check. Some ranger stations and a few trailheads have self-registration permit boxes. Contact the WIC for locations, email the park upon completion of your outing, mail your payment in the envelope.Â Do not leave payment in trailhead permit boxes.
U.S. Forest Service Northwest Forest Passes
US Forest Service Northwest Forest Passes are required when parking at some Olympic National Forest (USFS) trailheads. Some areas of Olympic National Park are accessed by trails originating in USFS areas. Both Park Service and Forest Service registration and fee procedures may apply.
Northwest Forest Passes are required at the following U.S. Forest Service trailheads that access Olympic National Park: Upper Dungeness, Duckabush and Lena Lake.
Northwest Forest Passes are available at all Olympic National Forest offices and a number of commercial outlets. The fee is $5 per vehicle per day. An annual NW Forest Pass is available for $30, good for a calendar year. Call (360) 956-2400 for more information. Northwest Forest Passes are available at the WIC in Port Angeles. The U.S. Forest Service also accepts theÂ Interagency Annual "America The Beautiful" Pass, the Interagency Access Pass, and Interagency Senior Pass.
Backpacking and Wilderness Reservations
Starting in June 2012, the park is charging the full permit fee for all reservations. The fee is non-refundable. Permit fee is $5 to register the group + $2 per person per night for everyone 16 or older.
Quotas and ReservationsÂ
For the following high-use wilderness camp areas,Â overnight use limits are in effect between May 1 and September 30 during which reservations are requiredÂ to help minimize human impacts and provide a quality wilderness experience. Reservations may be made no more than 30 days in advance from the first day of your hike.Â Within quota areas, groups of 7-12 people must camp in designated group sites. SeeÂ Group CampingÂ for more information.
Ozette CoastÂ (Yellow Banks to Point of the Arches): Advance reservations are required and must be obtained through the WIC prior to arrival in the Ozette area.
Royal Basin /Royal Lake: Advance reservations are required and must be obtained prior to arrival in the Royal Basin area.
Grand and Badger ValleysÂ (including the Deer Park to Obstruction Point Trail): 50% advance reservations available. The other 50% is available first come first serve from the WIC during business hours up to 24 hours in advance. This area includes all areas from Obstruction Point to Grand Pass, Badger Valley and Lake Lillian.
Lake Constance: Advance reservations required.
Flapjack LakesÂ (includes Gladys Divide): 50% advance reservations available. The other 50% is available first come first serve from the Staircase Ranger Station during business hours up to 24 hours in advance.
Sol Duc/Seven Lakes Basin/Mink Lake area (including Cat Basin, High Divide and Little Divide): 50% advance reservations available. The other 50% is available first come first serve from the WIC during business hours up to 24 hours in advance.
Hoh Lake and C.B. Flats: 50% advance reservations available. The other 50% is available first come first serve from the WIC during business hours up to 24 hours in advance.
Hoh River Trail: Reservations are available for Elk Lake, Glacier Meadows and for group sites (sites for 7-12 persons) and stock sites by calling the WIC.
For reservations call the WIC at (360) 565-3100. Permits for quota areas must be picked up at the WIC or a staffed ranger station during business hours.
* When calling to make reservations, please have your itinerary ready with campsite locations.
* Camping is permitted only in designated sites within quota areas.
* Campsites are not individually assigned but are available to permit holders on a first come, first served basis.
* In quota areas, deviation from your permit itinerary is not allowed, except in cases of emergency. In other areas, permits are not limited.
Olympic National Park - Fishing
Olympic National Park - General Fishing Information
Olympic National Park is managed as a natural area. The primary objectives of the fisheries management program at Olympic National Park are to preserve and restore native fishes and their habitats and provide recreational fishing opportunities for the enjoyment of park visitors. All waters within Olympic National Park are closed to the removal of any species of fish, shellfish, aquatic plants, or wildlife except as provided below. All waters as described below are open to fishing from one hour before official sunrise to one hour after official sunset. To protect the park's fish and aquatic resources, these regulations are subject to change.
Fishing Regulations are subject to change throughout the year. Always check with a ranger station for the most current information.
A Washington State Recreational Fishing License is NOT required to fish in Olympic National Park EXCEPT when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore. No license is required to harvest surf smelt.
A Washington State catch record card is REQUIRED to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters.
A Washington State Shellfish/Seaweed license is REQUIRED for harvest of shellfish from the Pacific Coastal Area. Harvest of seaweed, kelp, and unclassified species is prohibited (see Marine Fish and Shellfish Seasons and Limits).
*Recreational fishing in freshwater areas of Olympic National Park is restricted to artificial lures with single, barbless hooks (see Freshwater Seasons and Limits for exceptions).
*Anglers must only use a single rod, reel and line that is under immediate control.
*The use of seines, traps, drugs, explosives, and nets (except to land a legally hooked fish or dip-net smelt) are prohibited.
*Anglers - please report violators to 360-565-3115 or contact the nearest Park Ranger.
Boats and Rafts
Fishing from boats or other floating devices is permitted on the following rivers: Ozette, Queets below Tshletshy Creek, Hoh downstream from the launch site approximately 1/2 mile from the park boundary near confluence of the South Fork, Hoh River in the Pacific Coastal area, Quinault below the North Shore Quinault River Bridge, Quillayute and Dickey rivers.
Motorized craft are only allowed on the Quinault below the North Shore Quinault River Bridge, in the park's coastal portions of the Quillayute, Dickey, and Hoh Rivers (in the Pacific Coastal Area), and in Lake Crescent and Lake Ozette.
Bait is defined as any artificial or natural substance that attracts fish by scent and/or flavor. Most freshwater areas of Olympic National Park are managed as "Selective" or "Quality" fishing areas where bait is prohibited. Areas open to bait fishing are listed below under "Freshwater Seasons and Limits." The following are prohibited in all park waters: possession of illegal bait; use of live or dead minnows, chub or other freshwater bait fish; attracting, collecting, or feeding fish by using fish eggs, roe, or food; and digging for bait.
Size Limits for Salmon
12 inch minimum size limit. Adult chinook are 24 inches or more and adult coho are 20 inches or more. Jack chinook are less than 24 inches and jack coho are less than 20 inches.
Hatchery Fish Identification and Catch and Release
Hatchery salmon and steelhead are identified by a healed scar where the adipose or ventral fins have been removed, and harvest is only allowed in areas and seasons listed below. The only exception is in the Queets River where hatchery steelhead are identified by a dorsal fin height of less than 2 1/8 inches between November 15 and February 28. All wild steelhead (unmarked and identified by intact adipose fin) must be released in Olympic National Park.
All other wild (unmarked) fish species must be released unless specifically allowed in Freshwater Seasons and Limits. Fishing for bull trout and Dolly Varden is prohibited in all park waters and these species must be released if incidentally captured. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)
If handled properly, fish have an excellent chance for survival after they are released. Please follow these guidelines:
*Land the fish as quickly as possible to minimize the fish's fatigue.
*Leave the fish in the water while removing the hook.
*Wet your hands and do not squeeze or hold the fish by the eyes or gills. Minimize time out of water for photos.
*If the fish is hooked deeply, cut the line and leave the hook in.
*Safely release fish in quiet water near point of capture. .
Olympic National Park - Ecology
Ecology Olympic National Park - The Mountains, Forests and Coast
From the 7,980-foot summit of Mount Olympus, the Pacific Ocean shimmers in the distance, less than 33 miles west. Between the highest peak in the Olympic Mountain range and sea is a jumble of rugged peaks, whose shoulders are decorated with meadows and lakes. Below treeline, scattered subalpine forests give way to steep forested slopes ending in broad, U-shaped valleys. In all directions mountains and valleys radiate from Mount Olympus like spokes on a wheel.Â
Olympic Mountains - Alpine Environment
The lure of mountains persists, for good reason. Valleys and coast are far below, trees no longer block views, and jagged, snow-capped peaks rise to the sky. The alpine, a zone stretching from treeline to the highest peaks, where bright clumps of low-growing wildflowers decorate a backdrop of rock and snow.
Conditions in the alpine would be hard for humans to endure, yet the wildflowers and the wildlife that call this zone home are well-adapted. Wiry grasses, sedges and flowers are often arrayed in vertical stripes, due to freezing and thawing of thin mountain soils. Above, tiny ferns and flowers cling to rocky ledges, and on the highest peaks the only life form may be a bright orange blotch of crustose lichen. Wildflowers strategies include:
* Hugging the ground to avoid the drying winds
* Having small waxy or hairy leaves to conserve moisture
* Having bulbs or tap roots to store energy over winter and fuel growth each spring
* Being able to grow at cold temperatures and even while snow-covered
* Forming their buds the year before
Golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
Gray-crowned rosy finch, Leucosticte tephrocotis
Horned lark, Eremophila alpestris
Olympic chipmunk, Tamias amoenus caurinusÂ (unique to the Olympic Mountains)
Olympic marmot, Marmota olympusÂ (unique to the Olympic Mountains)
Raven, Corvus corax
Flett'sviolet - Viola flettiiÂ (unique to the Olympic Mountains)
Piper's bellflower - Campanula piperiÂ (unique to the Olympic Mountains)
Scalloped onion - Allium crenulatumÂ
Smooth douglasia - Douglasia laevigata
Spreading phlox - Phlox diffusa
Olympic Mountains - Subalpine Environment
Emerging from under the green forest blanket into the open world of the subalpine can be breathtaking. Suddenly the views open up, avalanche chutes slice through the trees, the dense forest thins, and deer graze in small meadows amid copses of spire-like subalpine firs. You have reached the subalpine, the zone below the alpine. Since alpine is the zone aboveÂ treeline; subalpine forms the transition zone from dense forest to treeline.
Gray jay - Perisoreus canadensis
Blue grouse - Dendragapus obscurus
Olympic marmot - Marmota olympusÂ (unique to the Olympic Mountains)
Black-tailed deer (summer only) - Odocoileus hemionus columbianus
Roosevelt elk (summer only) - Cervus elaphus roosevelti
Black bear - Ursus americanus
Snowshoe hare - Lepus americanus
Subalpine Trees and Plants
Common Tree Species
Alaska yellow-cedar - Chaemaecyparis nootkatensis
Douglas-fir - Pseudotsuga menziesii
Mountain hemlock - Tsuga mertensiana
Silver fir - Abies amabilis
Sitka alder - Alnus viridisÂ (often in avalanche chutes)
Subalpine fir - Abies lasiocarpa
Blueberries - Vaccinium sp.
Common juniper - Juniperus communis
Sitka mountain-ash - Sorbus sitchensis
White rhododendron - Rhododendron albiflorum
Avalanche lily - Erythronium montanum
Beargrass - Xerophyllum tenax
Broadleaf lupine - Lupinus latifolius
Paintbrush - Castilleja sp.
Penstemons - Penstemon sp.
Red mountain heather - Phyllodoce empetriformis
Shooting star - Dodecatheon sp.
Violets - Viola sp.
Temperate Rain Forests
The lush forests in the Quinault, Queets, Hoh, and Bogachiel valleys are some of the most spectacular examples of primeval temperate rain forest in the lower 48 states. These rain forests once stretched from southern Oregon to southeast Alaska, but little remains outside of protected areas. Other temperate rain forests grow in a few isolated spots around the world including Chile, New Zealand and southern Australia.
What comprises Olympic's Temperate Rain Forest?
* Rain. Storms off the Pacific Ocean drop much of their moisture on these west-facing valleys. Precipitation in Olympic's rain forest ranges from 140 to 167 inches (12 to 14 feet) every year.
* Moderate temperatures. In these low elevation valleys the temperature seldom drops below freezing and summertime highs rarely exceed 80 degrees F.
* Epiphytes, or plants growing on other plants. Mosses, spike mosses, ferns and lichens festoon tree trunks and branches, giving the forest a "jungle-like" feel.
* Large, old trees. The dominant species are Sitka spruce and western hemlock, but other conifers and several deciduous species grow as well. Many are 100s of years old and can reach 250 feet in height and 30 to 60 feet in circumference.
* Nurse logs. Because of the densely covered ground, many seedlings instead germinate on fallen, decaying trees. As they grow, their roots reach to the ground. When the log eventually rots away, a colonnade, or row of trees on stilt-like roots, remains.
* Dead wood. When the massive trees die, they eventually fall, but can take centuries to slowly decay back to the soil. Throughout their long death, they provide important habitat for whole communities, including mosses, tree seedlings, fungi, small mammals, amphibians, and insects.
* Roosevelt elk. The thick, layered canopy above moderates the temperature year-round for wildlife, including the largest wild populations of Roosevelt elk in the U.S. On the forest floor, elk browsing shapes the appearance of their forest home.
Common Tree and Plant Species of the Temperate Rainforests
Sitka spruce -Â Picea sitchensis
Douglas-fir -Â Pseudotsuga menziesii
Western hemlock -Â Tsuga heterophylla
Western red cedar -Â Thuja plicata
Bigleaf maple -Â Acer macrophyllum
Vine maple -Â Acer circinatum
Red alder -Â Alnus rubra
Black cottonwood -Â Populus balsamifera
Salmonberry -Â Rubus spectabilis
Huckleberry -Â Vaccinium sp.
Common epiphytesÂ (plants growing on tree trunks & branches)
Licorice fern -Â Polypodium glycyrrhiza
Oregon selaginella -Â Selaginella oregana
Cat-tail moss -Â Isothecium stoloniferum
Lungwort -Â Lobaria sp.
Common Understory Plants
Oregon oxalisÂ - Oxalis oregana
Sword fern -Â Polystichum munitum
Lady fern -Â Athyrium felix-femina
Stair-step moss -Â Hylocomium splendens
100s of other species of mosses, lichens and liverworts
The Coast of Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park's 73-mile long wilderness coast is a rare treasure in a country where much of the coastline is prime real estate. The rocky headlands, beaches, tidepools nurturing a living rainbow of colors and textures, off shore sea stacks topped by nesting seabirds and wind-sheared trees-all are a remnant of a wilder America. In fact, in 1988, Congress added much of the narrow coastal strip of the park (and much of the rest of the park) to a national system of designated wilderness.
The intertidal areas, where the Pacific Ocean tides shape life, are also within the boundary of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The offshore islands with their colonies of nesting seabirds and rocky haulouts for seals and sea lions, lie within the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Peer into a tidepool and your view may take in hundreds of animals crowded into an area the size of a dinner plate. Cold, nutrient-rich waters upwelling from the Pacific Ocean floor feed a food chain extending from tiny invertebrates to many-ton whales. In the intertidal, that abundance is stacked in layers determined by the tides, competition and the reach of predatory neighbors. Each species tends to thrive in only a certain narrow band of habitat, rarely straying above or below.
Mild temperatures and abundant rain can nourish a dense tangle of forest along Olympic's coast. Head high shrubs crowd under a canopy of Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and western red cedar. Ferns and mosses form a spongy carpet below. In a few areas the forest gives way to wet coastal prairies with acid-loving bog plants like wild cranberry, crowberry, bog laurel, Labrador-tea, sundew and sphagnum.
On the beach, the dense forest yields to the ocean. Blasting by prevailing westerly winds and sand often leave these sentinels flagged, with branches on just the protected leeward side. Look for eagles perched on the battered treetops. Jumbled drift logs lining the beach come from forests up river where meandering waters and floods undermine the forest, then deliver fallen trees to the ocean.
Where To See Coastal Forest
Short beach access trails and the Coastal Forest Nature Trail near Kalaloch are good spots. Look for the odd spruce burls at the Beach 1 trail south of Kalaloch. Rialto Beach has a picnic area in coastal forest. For longer trails, Third Beach or the trails from Ozette to the coast are also options.
Common Tree Species
Sitka spruce -Â Picea sitchensis
Western hemlockÂ - Tsuga heterophylla
Western red cedarÂ - Thuja plicata
Red alder -Â Alnus rubra
SalalÂ - Gaultheria shallon
Evergreen huckleberryÂ - Vaccinium ovatum
SalmonberryÂ - Rubus spectabilis
Black TwinberryÂ - Lonicera involucrata
Common Understory Species
Deer fernÂ - Blechnum spicant
BeadrubyÂ - Maianthemum dilatatum
Sword fernÂ - Polystichum munitum
Yellow skunk cabbageÂ - Lysichiton americanum
Olympic National Park - Wildlife
Wildlife Overview - Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park and its surroundings are home to a wide variety of wildlife. Just offshore, whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, and sea otters feed in the Pacific Ocean. Invertebrates of countless shapes, sizes, colors and textures inhabit the tide pools.
On land, some species, like raccoons, beaver and mink, live mostly in the lowlands. But others, like deer, elk, cougars and bears, range from valleys to mountain meadows. Park waters are home to some of the healthiest runs of Pacific salmon outside of Alaska. Over 300 species of birds live in the area at least part of the year, from tiny penguin-like rhinoceros auklets offshore to golden eagles soaring over the peaks.
The park is a rare refuge for species dependent on old growth forests, including some species protected under the Endangered Species Act. Olympic provides one of the last remaining large tracts of intact primeval forest in the lower 48 states. These moist forests provide essential habitat for northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets and a variety of amphibians.
The wildlife community of the isolated Olympic Peninsula is also unique. This community is noteworthy not only for its endemic animals (found only here), but also for species missing from the Olympics, yet found elsewhere in western mountains. Pika, ptarmigan, ground squirrels, lynx, red foxes, coyotes, wolverine, grizzly bears, bighorn sheep and historically, mountain goats, did not occur on the Olympic Peninsula. Meanwhile, endemic species like the Olympic marmot, Olympic snow mole and Olympic torrent salamander are found here and nowhere else in the world.
Notable terrestrial Mammals include:
Roosevelt Elk - Cervus elaphus roosevelti
Identification: Olympic National Park is home to the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt elk in the Pacific Northwest. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, they are the largest variety of elk in North America. Both males and females have dark brown heads and pale brown bodies. Males are larger than females, and identifiable by a set of antlers. Roosevelt elk are much larger than the black-tail deer that inhabit the same areas.
Habitat: Elk are relatively versatile, and often occupy a range of habitats, from montane meadows and forests down to the lowland rain forests, where there is ample food. An excellent place to see elk is the Hoh Rain Forest. These non-migratory herds stay in the Hoh area throughout the year, banding together in herds of around 20 and consisting of females and their calves. Male elk, or bulls, can be seen singly or in pairs. September is a great time to hear them bugling, as it is mating season and the males compete for groups of females.
Diet: Roosevelt elk feed mainly on ferns, shrubs, and lichens from the rain forest, as well as meadow grasses.
Black bearÂ -Â Ursus americanus
Identification: The black bear is a common inhabitant of Olympic National Park, and North America, in general. They are smaller and darker than the grizzly bear and the brown bear. Females typically weigh between 100 and 400 lbs, while males weigh between 250 and 600 lbs.
Habitat: Black bears are the most common species of North American bear, found in a majority of the states and in most of the Canadian provinces as well. They range from lowlands all the way up to subalpine regions of the mountains, inhabiting a variety of different ecosystems such as riparian areas, coastal lands, ridgetops, and forests, old and new.
Diet:These creatures have an incredibly varied diet. They often feed on tree sapwood, young tree bark, and insect mounds until berries come in season. Bears can be spotted frequently in the early fall raiding the huckleberry bushes on mountain slopes. During various salmon runs in both spring and fall, bears will feed in shallow waters where they have a relatively easy time catching salmon en route to spawn, or salmon carcasses that have done so already.
Cougar -Â Puma concolor
Identification: Cougars are one of the most reclusive, elusive, and stealthily creatures of the forests. Thus, they are rarely seen by people. Usually a tawny-light brownish color, they may also be gray or reddish. They are large cats, statistically the fourth largest of the feline family, behind lions, tigers, and jaguars. Males may weigh up to 250 lbs, while females usually weigh between 75 and 100 lbs.
Habitat: The cougar prefers habitats with dense underbrush and clear rocky areas for stalking. Cougars of Olympic National Park tend to live in the mountains and forests. The cougar is a very territorial animal and persists at low population densities. Though the cougar population is uncertain, there is definite evidence of their existence. Territorial scratch mounds and tracks can be found on the backcountry trails throughout the park.
Diet: Cougars sit, along with black bears, at the top of the food chain. They prey mainly on elk and deer, but may also eat smaller mammals and rodents.
River OtterÂ -Â Lutra Canadensis
Identification: River otters are common along the Pacific coastal section of the park, where they are often mistaken for sea otters. Much smaller than sea otters, the weigh about 30 pounds. They have small ears, plenty of whiskers, and are generally brown with silvery bellies. Their webbed feet allow them to be the excellent swimmers that they are.
Habitat: River otters are often found on lakeshores, riverbanks, and the outer coast of the peninsula. They are commonly seen in intertidal areas close to shore where they forage for food. River otters spend much less time in the water than sea otters do.
Diet: River otters feed mainly on crayfish, fish, and small rodents.
Olympic MarmotÂ -Marmota olympus
Identification: Nuzzling, playing, chirping, feeding together; the Olympic marmot is quite possibly one of the most social and gregarious mammals on the peninsula. They are endemic to the Olympic Peninsula, meaning they are found no where else in the world. The Olympic marmot is a housecat-sized rodent with a long, bushy tail. Adults can weigh 15 pounds or more before they enter hibernation in September or early October. They are often brownish in color, but may be yellow or tan colored when they emerge from hibernation in the spring, and almost black in the fall.
Family groups of one adult male, one or more adult females, and several cohorts of young share a home range of 1/2-acre to five acres. In any given year, about 30 percent of adult females produce litters of 1-6 pups. Pups initially stay close to their burrows when they emerge in late July, but by mid-August, they can be seen wrestling and chasing each other in enthusiastic play. Marmots have a sharp, piercing whistle that warns others of intruders or potential predators, and notifies hikers that they are in marmot territory.
Habitat: Marmots occupy mountain meadows above 4000 feet. Although they are found throughout the Olympic Mountains, they are rare in the wetter southwest areas of the park. About 90 percent of Olympic marmot habitat is protected within Olympic National Park. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Olympic marmot numbers declined, at least partly due to predation by non-native coyotes. Marmots and their habitat are also expected to be sensitive to climateÂ change. In recent years, marmots have also disappeared from some of the driest meadows in the northeast Olympic Mountains. In response to these concerns, in 2010 the park initiated a monitoring program that enables volunteers to record the presence or absence of marmots in many meadows throughout the park.
Diet: Olympic marmots prefer fresh, tender, flowering plants such as lupine and glacier lilies. In May and June, they will eat roots and may even gnaw on trees. They can double their body weight in the summer and use stored fat during a seven to eight month hibernation.
If you stand on the rugged coast of Olympic National Park and scan the Pacific Ocean, you might spot seals, sea lions, a spouting whale, or sea otters frolicking amid the kelp. These waters are part of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, an area of over 3,310 square miles (about twice the size of the park). The sanctuary has documented 29 species of marine mammals in its waters.
The cold northern Pacific Ocean provides a rich feeding ground for marine mammals, including several success stories. Sea otters were hunted to extinction off the Washington coast by the early 1900s, but a reintroduction in 1969 and 1970 began a recovery that continues today. Over 800 otters are now at home again in the kelp forests and waters off the park.
Gray whales, also once driven to near extinction, recovered enough to be removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act. From March into May, look for their spouts or barnacled-splotched backs as they migrate north to their summer feeding grounds.
Notable Marine Mammals include:
Gray Whale -Â Eschrichtius robustus
Identification: Prior to protection measures in the last 60 years, gray whale population numbers were critically low due to over-harvesting. These large sea mammals usually measure between 50 and 60 feet from head to fin, and weigh over 30 tons. They are a mottled dark gray, a result of the barnacles, or parasites, that attach themselves and eventually fall off.
Habitat: En route to summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea and other northern waters, gray whales often navigate the coastal waters of the Olympic Peninsula. Some even enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca and stay to feed for days or weeks. They can be seen feeding off the coast in late spring and summer, or feeding on bottom sediments at the mouths of the Hoh and Quillayute rivers in the summer.
Diet: Typically, gray whales feed by scooping up bottom sediments, and filtering out the crustaceans from the sand and other debris with their baleen. They are also known to feed among kelp beds along the coast.
California Sea LionÂ - Zalophus californianus
Identification: Maybe best known for their distinctive circus-like bark, California sea lions are so called because of their breeding grounds in California's Channel Islands. They are smaller and more vocal than theÂ Steller's sea lionsÂ that haul out alongside them in the offshore waters of the Olympic Peninsula. Though usually darker in color than Steller's sea lions, California adult males are further distinguished by a prominent crest on their head.
Habitat: The Olympic coast lies along the migratory path of both California and Steller's sea lions. On the way to foraging areas in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, California sea lions feed in the coastal waters in the late summer and early fall. They haul out in masses on the abundant offshore rocks, amiably alongside their larger cousins. These whiskered creatures are often visible on the islands off the coast of Cape Flattery and Cape Alava, arriving in late summer or early fall, and often staying through spring.
Diet: California sea lions feed mainly on squid, smelt, codfish, rockfish, and most other available fish.
Olympic National Park - Contact
Visitor Center, Contact Information and Directions
Olympic National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, although some roads, campgrounds and other visitor facilities close in winter. Emergency situations including snow, ice, flooding, blow-downs or wildland fire may also close areas temporarily.
Visitor Informationâ€¨: 360.565.3130
Toll Free - Visitor Information: 800.833.6388
Road & Weather Hotlineâ€¨: 360.565.3131â€¨
By Mail: â€¨600 East Park Avenueâ€¨, Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798
Olympic National Park Visitor Centerâ€¨
3002 Mount Angeles Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362â€¨
Phone 360.565.3130 - Open daily. Hours vary according to season.Â
Visitor information, exhibits about Olympic's natural and cultural history, hands-on "Discovery Room" for kids, award-winning orientation film (25 minutes) shown on request. Two nature trails; one accessible with some assistance.
Wilderness Information Center (Backcountry Permit Office)
Located inside Olympic National Park Visitor Center at 3002 Mount Angeles Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362
Phone: 360.565.3100 - Open daily. Hours vary according to season.â€¨
Information and trip planning for all wilderness users, including current trail reports, safety, weather and Leave No Trace tips. Wilderness Camping Permits and bear canisters are available.Â EmailÂ the Wilderness Information Center or call 360.565.3100.
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center
â€¨Hurricane Ridge, about 17 miles south of Port Angeles - Open daily in summer; open whenever Hurricane Ridge Road is open during remainder of year.
Visitor information, exhibits about Olympic's mountain habitats, 20-minute orientation film shown on request. Guided walks and talks are offered during the summer; guided snowshoe walks on winter weekends. Nearby short trails, often snow-covered well into May, are accessible with assistance. Snack bar and gift shop on Visitor Center's lower level.
Forks NPS - USFS Recreation Information Centerâ€¨
551 S Forks Avenue (Highway 101), Forks, WA 98331
Phone: 360.374.5877 - Open daily 9:00am to 4:00pm in summer, Friday-Sunday in spring and fall, closed in winter.
Visitor information and exhibits about visiting the Olympic Peninsula's "West End", including Olympic National Park coastal and rainforest areas. Wilderness use permits and animal resistant food containers available.
Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center
â€¨Hoh Rain Forest, approximately 31 miles south of Forks off Highway 101â€¨
Phone: 360.374.6925 - Open Daily in summer; open Friday-Sunday remainder of year. Hours vary according to season.
Visitor information, exhibits about Olympic's temperate rain forests. Self-guided nature trails; one accessible with some assistance. Wilderness use permits and animal resistant food containers available.
Directions to Olympic National Park
Traveling by Car â€¨from the greater Seattle area and I-5 corridor, you can reach U.S. 101 by several different routes.
- Cross Puget Sound on one of theÂ Washington State Ferry SystemÂ car and passenger ferries.
- Drive south to Tacoma, take State Route 16, and cross Puget Sound at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
- Drive south to Olympia and access U.S. 101 there.
Traveling by Ferryâ€¨â€¨
Ferry service is available throughout most of the year between Victoria, British Columbia and Port Angeles.
TheÂ Coho FerryÂ offers vehicle and passenger service throughout the year, except for a two-week winter maintenance shutdown.
The Washington State Ferry system serves a number of routes across Puget Sound, but does not provide service in or out of Port Angeles.Â
Traveling by Airâ€¨â€¨
TheÂ William R. Fairchild International AirportÂ serves the greater Port Angeles area and is the closest airport to Olympic National Park. Rental cars are also available.
Currently,Â Kenmore AirÂ flies seven daily round-trip flights between Port Angeles and Boeing Field in Seattle. Kenmore Air is an alliance partner of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, so connections to Port Angeles can be booked from more than 90 cities across North America. Connections involving other airlines can be booked through your travel agency or directly atÂ KenmoreAir.com.
Despite its isolation, the Olympic Peninsula becomes a busy place in summer. We recommend planning ahead and leaving plenty of extra time to safely reach your destination. Below are some additional tips.
- Highway 101 is the only access route to the Olympic Peninsula and is a two-lane highway for most of its length. In many areas, passing other vehicles is not possible. Patience and allowing extra time to reach your destination will make your trip safer and more fun!
- If possible, plan to visit during the week, rather than Friday through Sunday.
- Make lodging reservations early.
- Park campgrounds are available first come, first served except for Kalaloch campground, which may be reserved for summer camping.
- Winter brings its own special beauty, and travel challenges. Allow extra time and be sure to check your tires and the weather forecast before traveling.
- Check theÂ Washington Department of Transportation websiteÂ for safety and traffic alerts on U.S. Highway 101.