Olympic National Park

Situated on the Olympic Peninsula, this park includes a wide range of ecosystems from Pacific shoreline to temperate rainforests to the alpine slopes of the Olympic Mountains, the tallest of which is Mount Olympus. The Hoh Rainforest and Quinault Rainforest are the wettest area in the contiguous United States, with the Hoh receiving an average of almost 12 ft (3.7 m) of rain every year.

Geology

Three Stones, One Story: Examining the Ages of Olympic

Sitting on the cobbly bank of the Elwha River, I drink from my water bottle. The water teems with untold stories of its journey through the Olympic Mountains. The sip of water that soothes my hike-weary body has also smoothed countless river rocks and carved away at mountains that tower over 7,000 feet above sea level. Rain, snow, rivers, and glaciers––water in its many forms is the master sculptor. Water would have no rock to sculpt, if it were not for this land’s incessant push toward the sky. Driven by tectonic forces as one of Earth’s crustal plates moves toward and dives beneath the continent, Olympic rocks began thrust faulting and folding upward about 45 million years ago. They continue to rise at about the same rate as water tears them down (about 0.04″ or 1 mm per year). So though its foundation is rising, 7,980-foot Mount Olympus, the highest peak in the Olympic Mountains, is not getting any taller.
Below me, in the clear waters of the Elwha, I see three river rocks: one blackish; another, grey sandstone; the third, an oddity, white with large crystalline speckles. Let’s examine each rock and search for 55 million years of Olympic Mountains history. Igneous Rocks Undersea Volcanism
I follow the trail of blackish rocks upriver like a salmon in search of its home. After passing river bends and countless fallen logs, I find remnants of an ancient landslide where basalt rocks once blocked the river. After a three-hour climb to the ridgetop, I find myself near Hurricane Ridge looking from peak to peak along the curve of the Crescent Formation. With a few exceptions, these are the oldest rocks in the Olympics, dating to over 55 million years ago. During that time, lava poured from the seafloor in various forms, including “pillows,” creating a series of basalt flows as much as 12 miles deep that stretch from Coos Bay, Oregon north to Victoria (on Canada’s Vancouver Island), and from the coast east to Seattle. These Crescent Formation basalts form a horseshoe-shaped series of ridges and peaks along the northern, eastern, and southern margins of the Olympics. The story of how these ocean basalts became mountains continues with the next rock I examined. If it were not for rain, snow, rivers, glaciers and gravity wearing
them down, the Olympic Mountains would be taller than Mount Everest.

Olympic’s Core Rocks have been thrust faulted and folded into place. The Core Rocks Sandstones, Mudstones,Conglomerates and Shales
Again, I travel up the Elwha, this time for three days, searching for the home of the grey sandstone. This rock might feel at home in many places: Mount Carrie, Dodger Point, Mount Seattle. Geologists tell us that the grey sandstones in the Olympic Mountains originated as turbidites––underwater landslide deposits that flow many miles offshore.

These flows, which may be triggered by subduction earthquakes, still occur today, though they are hidden under hundreds of feet of water. Such undersea avalanches, called turbidity flows, spread mud, sand, and gravel onto the deep ocean floor. After years of compression and cementation they become sedimentary rocks: shales, sandstones and conglomerates. Further pressure creates slate. As the ocean plate subducts to the east beneath the continental plate, the sedimentary rocks are continually being scraped off. The sedimentary rocks are wedged under older Olympic Mountain
rocks, forming the core of the central Olympics.
Where the oceanic crust meets continental crust, north and eastward movement also causes buckling and folding, pushing the combined basaltic and sedimentary rocks of the Olympics upward. Rocks laid down on the ocean floor now stand vertically!
In all my travels through Olympic’s interior, I have never seen a mountain composed of the third light-colored rock in my hand. To show you its home, we must travel far up Canada’s Fraser Valley. This chunk of granite was carried here over 13,000 years ago by an ice sheet thousands of feet thick. The ice scoured the northern and eastern edges of the Olympic Mountains, filling what is now the Strait of Juan de Fuca and damming many river valleys, including the Elwha. Behind the ice dam, ancient Lake Elwha and other valley lakes backed up thousands of feet deep. Icebergs carrying granitic
rocks calved off into the lakes and sailed to the farthest shores. As the icebergs melted, these exotic rocks, called erratics, were deposited on mountain slopes. Now that the ice has receded and the ancient lake drained, the Elwha River sometimes carries these transplanted rocks downstream for you to examine today.
These three rock types are the most commonly found, but there are others and the story continues as geologists explore and debate the complex geologic history of the Olympics.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/upload/geology_printer-friendly.pdf

Native American History

Eight tribes call Olympic National Park home

What if your highways were rivers and mountain ridges? What if your grocery store was the forest and the ocean? What if your home overlooked a beautiful coastline, complete with whales and sunsets? For the original residents of the Olympic Peninsula, the majestic landscape and wealth of resources supplied both physical and spiritual sustenance. Although the land and its ownership have changed, these essential connections have been maintained through generations. Today Olympic National Park protects the natural resources that engendered those connections as well as the cultural resources that reveal the rich history of the people who first called this rugged place home.

Eight Olympic Peninsula tribes continue to recognize a relationship to the park based on traditional land use, origin, beliefs, mythology and spiritual beliefs and practices. These tribes are the Lower Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Skokomish, Quinault, Hoh, Quileute, and Makah. It was the ancestors of the these tribes that lived throughout the Olympic Peninsula, but ceded their lands and waters to the federal government through treaties in 1855 and 1856 and now live on reservations along the shores of the peninsula.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/learn/historyculture/tribes-of-the-olympic-peninsula.htm

Park History

How Olympic became a National Park

Since the 1880s, the Olympic Peninsula’s spectacular mountains, rain forest, and unique wildlife have captured the attention of visitors, park advocates, and naturalists. By 1890 Naturalist John Muir, Washington Congressman James Wickersham, and Lieutenant Joseph O’Neil, who led the first well-documented exploration of the peninsula’s interior, each respectively proposed creation of a national park on the Olympic Peninsula.

Preservation and Becoming a National Park:

1890s-1953

In 1897 the area received its first national designation, as Olympic Forest Reserve, by President Grover Cleveland in response to concern about the area’s disappearing forests. Eight years later, in 1909, President Teddy Roosevelt designated a part of the reserve as Mount Olympus National Monument to protect the habitat of Roosevelt Elk, whose population was in steep decline.

In 1937 President Franklin Roosevelt visited the Olympic Peninsula and added his support to establishment of a national park. The following year he signed the act designating Olympic National Park. An additional area of Pacific coast was added in 1953.

Modern Times: Designations and Partnerships
Olympic National Park’s outstanding attributes have also led to international recogn­ition. In 1976 the park was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in the Man and the Biosphere Program by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

International recognition came again in 1981 when the park was declared a World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Convention, joining it to a system of natural and cultural properties that are considered irreplaceable treasures of outstanding universal value.

Interwoven throughout the park’s diverse landscape is an array of cultural and historic sites that tell the human story of the park. More than 650 archeological sites document 12,000 years of human occupation of Olympic National Park lands. Historic sites reveal clues about the 200-year history of exploration, homesteading, and community development in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the continuing evolution of the federal preservation ethic.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/learn/historyculture/index.htm

Attractions

The best things to do in Olympic National Park

Boating
With Rivers, lakes, and coasts, Olympic has a place for paddlers and motor boat enthusiasts.

Fishing
Fishermen can enjoy their favorite pastime in all seasons at Olympic.

Tidepooling
Olympic’s rugged shoreline is rich with life. Where to go, when to go and tidepooling etiquette.

Camping
Plan your camping trip and stay at one of Olympic’s 16 campgrounds.

Day Hikes
Plan an exciting day hike or short walk on one of the many trail options in the park.

Backpacking
Plan your wilderness overnight backpacking experience.

Wildlife Viewing
Interested in encountering wildlife in the wilderness? Learn about the best places to see animals in the park.

Ranger Led Programs
Explore Olympic’s diverse ecosystems and history with a ranger during scheduled programs.

Night Sky Programs
Away from the city lights, join a ranger and gaze up at Olympic’s starry skies.

NPS Passport Program
Track your park adventures with the NPS Passport Program!

Winter Activities
Ski, snowshoe, and climb during Olympic’s winter months.

Art and Photography
With so many diverse locations, it’s hard to point a camera in Olympic National Park and get a bad shot.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/things2do.htm

Vegetation

So much diversity in the plant life in Olympic National Park

From massive conifers over 20 stories tall, to minute clumps of pink Douglasia prying a life out of rocky peaks, the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park boast an amazing diversity of plant life.

Over 1,450 types of vascular plants grow on the Peninsula, nearly the same number as the British Isles—an area 30 times larger. In addition, hundredsof species of non-vascular mosses, liverworts and hornworts also live here.

Why So Much Diversity?
The park and surrounding Olympic Peninsula have snowy peaks that plunge to mist-shrouded coast. Misty temperate rain forest on the west side, lies only 34 miles from dry oak savanna in the rain shadow northeast of the mountains. These quick changes in elevation and precipitation mean a lot of different habitats are crowded into the area.

 

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/learn/nature/plants.htm

Animal Life

Olympic National Park and its surroundings are home to a wide variety of wildlife

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.

Old Growth Refuge
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.

A Unique Community
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!

Olympic is one of the most diverse wilderness areas in the United States. Its wide variety of ecosystems provide habitat critical to the survival of sensitive species, such as wild salmon, northern spotted owls, and marbled murrelets. Olympic is truly a refuge for life at risk. It protects one of the largest remaining parcels of pristine habitat for some threatened or endangered species. Learn more about threatened and endangedred species at Olympic here.

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/learn/nature/animals.htm

Hiking Trails

The best hiking trails in Olympic National Park

Day hikes of varying length and difficulty are found throughout the park. Some are universally accessible while others are more challenging. Information about day hiking in Olympic

Before You Go …

Even on short hikes, be prepared for changeable weather. Carry food, water, raingear and extra layers of clothing.
Do not drink water directly from streams. We recommend boiling water or using a water filter or other treatment that kills or filters giardia and cryptosporidium. Iodine tablets do not kill cryptosporidium.
Stay on trails to avoid injury to yourself and the park’s vegetation.
Pack out all trash, including food waste.
Pets are not allowed on park trails or beaches — except for the following areas where leashed (up to six feet in length) pets are permitted:
Spruce Railroad Trail (Olympic Discovery Trail)
Rialto Beach one-half mile north to Ellen Creek
All Kalaloch beaches (from Ruby Beach south to South Beach)
Peabody Creek Trail

see original article here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/day-hiking.htm

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