Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park sits on an isolated peninsula with a high mountain range...
Olympic National Park is located in the U.S. state of Washington, in the Olympic Peninsula. The park can be divided into three basic regions: the Pacific coastline, the Olympic Mountains, and the temperate rainforest. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt originally created Olympic National Monument in 1909 and after congress voted to authorize a redesignation to National Park status, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the legislation in 1938. In 1976, Olympic National Park became an International Biosphere Reserve, and in 1981 it was designated a World Heritage Site. In 1988, Congress designated 95 percent of the park as the Olympic Wilderness.
Flora and fauna
Because the park sits on an isolated peninsula, with a high mountain range dividing it from the land to the south, it developed many unique plant and animal species (like the Olympic Marmot) that can't be found anywhere else in the world. The southwestern coastline of the Olympic Peninsula is also the northernmost non-glaciated region on the Pacific coast of North America, with the result that - aided by the distance from peaks to the coast at the Last Glacial Maximum being about twice what it is today - it served as a refuge from which plants colonized glaciated regions to the north.
It also provides habitat for many species (like the Roosevelt elk) that are native only to the Pacific Northwest coast. Because of this importance, scientists have declared it to be a biological reserve, and study its unique species to better understand how plants and animals evolve.
The park contains an estimated 366,000 acres (1,480 km2) of old-growth forests.
August and September
You will want a car to explore Olympic National Park. Unlike many national parks, there are no roads through the park. In fact, the central part of the park is one of the last great roadless patches in the lower 48 states. There are a number of roads running from US 101 into the park: Hurricane Ridge, Elwha, Sol Doc, Hoh, and Quinault. The park also includes much of the Pacific coast along the peninsula which is accessible from US 101 at Klalaloch, La Push, Cape Alava and Neah Bay. The park is a big park, so think about your trip, and take driving times into account.
Lake Quinault Lodge, Kalaloch Lodge, Sol Duc Hot Springs, Lake Crescent Lodge