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Incredible Diversity at Olympic National Park

The diversity of Olympic National Park is incredible.  The landscape varies from mountains to beaches to rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula.  We discovered just a sliver of the treasures that the Park has to offer in our five days there last month.

Mountains

The Olympic Mountains form the backbone of the peninsula at the Park.  On our first day there, we were greeted by this view of the range peeking out of the clouds.

Olympic National Park

Cloud Covered Image from Hurricane Ridge

Later in the day, we were able to capture this clear image of Mount Olympus as it rose from the clouds.

Olympic National Park

Mount Olympus

The cloud cover persisted throughout day one.  It made for some interesting views and images of the mountain range.

Olympic National Park

Covered in Clouds

While the mountains frequently were above the clouds, at ground level it was a different story.  Travel along the road to Hurricane Ridge looked more like this.

Olympic National Park

Thick Gloom in the Olympic Forest

Wildlife

Olympic National Park has diverse wildlife and plant life–some of which can only be found on the peninsula.  We frequently spotted the small Blacktail Deer throughout the Park

Doe in the Mountain Wildflowers

Doe in the Mountain Wildflowers

The many beaches on the Pacific Coast areas offered glimpses of a variety of creatures.

Olympic National Park

Crab at Beach #4

Bird life along the coast flourished.  We spotted numerous birds, such as these pelicans, anticipating the next salmon run.

Pelicans in Flight at Rialto Beach

Pelicans in Flight at Rialto Beach

With a little extra effort we were able to find large schools of ocean invertebrates including these starfish at beach #4.

Olympic National Park

Starfish at Beach #4

Beaches

A park ranger advised us to visit both Rialto Beach and Beach #4.  Great choices.  When we arrived at Rialto Beach, the crashing waves had a different sound than we had heard before.  Rialto Beach is composed of smooth pebbles rather than sand.  The pebbles rushed back to sea as the waves retreated and then would crash into new waves that formed.  The sound was distinct.  And loud.

Olympic National Park

Rialto Beach

The sun came out enough for us to get a fairly clear view of the sea stacks at Beach #4.

Olympic National Park

Sea Stacks at Beach #4

Impressive numbers of sea stacks are perched along the coast.

Temperate Rain Forests

Much of the Park is rainforest.  Not tropical rainforest, but temperate forest.  The diversity of the plants and the size of the trees was phenomenal.    The Kalaloch Big Cedar, which is a 1000 years old+ recently split in two due to the wet winter.  Go see it when you are travelling the west coast of the peninsula.

Olympic National Park

The Big Cedar

The Hoh River Valley is an excellent example of temperate rainforest.  There take the easy Hall of Mosses trail for some amazing views of the greenery.

Olympic National Park

Hall of Mosses

Hiking

Olympic National Park has some of the best hiking we have had on our journey.  We took full advantage.  The Park (of course) has a diverse selection of trails too ranging from hard and steep to short and easy.

Hard and steep–Mount Storm King:

Olympic National Park

Crescent Lake

Easy and short–Sol Duc Falls

Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Falls

Take your pick, there is a level and an experience to suit most tastes.

Olympic National Park literally has something for every visitor.  If you are interested in a specific experience chances are you will find it.  If you are looking for a diverse wilderness experience, the park will serve that up too.  We are glad we found so much at the Park.  We expect to go back for more in the near future.

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