Editor’s note: For National Park Week, we are reposting some of our favorite national park posts! We hope you get out there and enjoy your parks this week, but if you can’t, we will take you to the wilderness as best as we can.
The colors of this blanket pay homage to the Olympic National Park in our neighboring Washington State. This unique region is famous for its varied ecosystems—from rugged coastlines and dense old-growth forests to glacier-capped alpine peaks and lush rainforests.
This very special design uses a ground of heather grey with two bands of stripes in muted, natural tones. Fans of our national park blankets can attest to the fact that we don’t usually use heathered yarns in this group, making this blanket uniquely beautiful, just like the park for which it’s named.
…Diversity is the hallmark of Olympic National Park. Encompassing nearly a million acres, the park protects a vast wilderness, thousands of years of human history, and several distinctly different ecosystems, including glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rain forests, and over 70 miles of wild coastline. https://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm
Visitors to the Pacific Northwest are often surprised to learn about our rainforests. The entire area was once home to a huge rainforest that stretched from Oregon’s southern coast to southeastern Alaska. Why? Because of our bountiful, wonderful (and sometimes depressing) level of rainfall.
The Olympic National Forest receives 12 to 14 feet of rain per year, with temperatures that rarely dip below freezing or rise above 80 degrees. These temperate, damp conditions allow rain forests to thrive, nourishing an array of vegetation: mosses, ferns, Douglas fir, red alders, Western hemlocks and Sitka spruce. As in all rain forests, downed trees become “nurse logs,” fertile places where seeds grow, animals nest and insects burrow.
Olympic National Park is home to four rain forests; Hoh, Quinault, Queets and Bogchiel. Quinault Rain Forest is home to the world’s largest Sitka spruce. This tree is more than 1,000 years old, 191-feet-high with a 96-foot spread. Aside from the Redwoods of California, Quinalt holds the largest trees in America—and, a gorgeous lake! Read more about a wooden boat trip to Lake Quinalt by our friend Greg Hatten here: Lake Quinalt.
The Olympic Mountains are part of the Pacific Coast Ranges. They’re not especially high – Mount Olympus is the highest at 7,962 ft (2,427 m)–but its eastern slopes rise out of Puget Sound from sea level, making for a towering ascent. The range’s western slopes are the wettest place in the 48 states thanks to—you guessed it—rain! That 12 to 14 feet of rain we mentioned earlier.
Hurricane Ridge, at a mile above sea level, offers an unmatched view of the Olympic Mountains. You can observe right there, or take off on hiking trails. You can even take an off-road ready rig up two narrow dirt roads–Obstruction Point or Deer Park—to take in some incredible views of snow-capped mountains.
As part of its varied landscape, Olympic NP contains a 73-mile long stretch of wilderness coast. The rocky headlands, beaches, tidepools and sea stacks are wild and undeveloped. Ruby Beach—named for ruby-like crystals that are found in deposits of the beach’s sand–has been attracting artists and photographers for decades, thanks to its unique sea stacks.
By Adbar – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27301905
We love our animals out here, and Olympic NP is full of them. Old growth preserves provide unique and safe habitat for several endangered species, including the northern spotted owl. Birdwatching in the park is popular, with over 250 species of birds. The mountain meadows draw blue grouse, woodpeckers, gray jays, and more. At the coast, keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles.
On land, several species are found only in the Olympic forests: The Olympic marmot, Olympic snow mole and Olympic torrent salamander. Cougars, bobcats and bears are just a few of the carnivores that roam and hunt these forests. For a full list, see here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/learn/nature/mammal-species-list.htmAnd don’t forget the ocean. Offshore, the waters that wash the beaches of Olympic NP are home to whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, and sea otters.
But that’s not all!
Other things to remember about visiting the area:
- The Olympic peninsula was once one of the PNW’s best-kept secrets until a certain book series ignited interest in the area. If that’s your jam, Forks is VERY close to the park, as are La Push and Port Angeles.
- If you would like to set foot on the westernmost point of the contiguous 48 states, you can do it at Cape Alava, Washington (48.16974° N, 124.73004° W) during low tide, by walking out to the west side of Tskawahyah Island. Cape Alava is accessible via a 3-mile boardwalk hike from a ranger station in the park.
- Dogs are not allowed in most of our national parks. But Olympic has dog-friendly trails where you can hike with your pooch, as long as you follow a few rules. Read more here: pets in Olympic National Park
So snuggle up in the made-in-the-USA warmth of the Olympic National Park blanketand start planning your visit. The Pacific Northwest wonderland awaits.