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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park in the far northwest corner of Washington State is an adventurer’s paradise. With hundreds of miles of trails, alpine meadows, towering mountains, and a beautiful coastline, you could spend a lifetime exploring this park.

The Olympic Peninsula is bursting with history and wildlife. So, pack your bags and bring a raincoat as we look at this popular Pacific Northwest destination.

5. It’s Like Three Parks in One

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A tide pool and a starfish on the park’s coast. (Source: Getty Images)

Olympic National Park is one of the largest parks in the lower 48 states. The massive area also brings plenty of diversity and three distinct ecosystems. Starting with 65 miles of rocky coastline, visitors can see wildlife like seals and even whales. Heading inland will lead you to endless acres of thick forests with plenty of shades of green that only a climate like the rainy northwest could provide. Finally, mountains climb above 7,000 feet, despite its coastal location with plenty of snowy alpine days.

4. There Aren’t Many Roads, But There Are Tons of Wilderness Areas

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A hiker exploring trails. (Source: Getty Images)

More than 95% of Olympic National Park is designated as a wilderness area. That means there are no roads or infrastructure. To experience these sections of the park, you’ll have to backpack in. For some, this is a great way to beat the crowds. A little extra know-how and research is needed to plan a trip in the wilderness, but it’s worth it to experience this park.

3. Other Mountains Block the Park’s Highest Peak

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Mount Olympus. (Source: Getty Images)

On a clear day in Seattle, you can spot many of Washington State’s most prominent mountain peaks, including the Brothers, which make up the park’s east side. What you can’t see is Mount Olympus, the tallest mountain on the Olympic Peninsula. Olympus is 7,980 feet tall, making it the highest peak, but the view is blocked from the ground. People climb Olympus, but it’s known to be extremely hard to access. There is no way to drive to the mountain, and the hike to the base is a challenge in itself.

2. Yes, There Is a Ton of Rain in the Pacific Northwest

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A creek through the Hoh Rain Forest. (Source: Getty Images)

The west side of Olympic National Park is the wettest place in the continental U.S. All that moisture brings places like the Hoh Rain Forest to life, with plants covering every piece of ground, rock, and root. In fact, the rainforest sees 12 feet of rain a year. Fortunately for visitors, the summer months are the driest and the best time to visit if you want to try to avoid the rain.

1. You Can Take a Quick Trip to Canada

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The ferry crossing from Port Angeles, WA, to Victoria, Canada. (Source: Getty Images)

Port Angeles is the gateway to most of Olympic National Park. The town sits on the northern coast of the Olympic Peninsula and has daily ferry trips to Victoria, Canada. So, be sure to bring your passport. Also, the ferry company recommends you sit near a window because you can often spot marine life from the boat.

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