A Wilderness of Mountains, Glaciers and Rain Forests In terms of sheer scenic grandeur Olympic National Park hits the jackpot. Quite simply, this is one of America’s finest collections of wondrous landscapes. Snowcapped mountains, jagged glaciers, majestic coniferous forests, jewel-like lakes, magically desolate beaches—they’re all here, and fortunately protected for all time.
The variety within the park's 922,650 acres is simply remarkable. Much of the interior is dominated by rugged mountains and active glaciers unusual for their formation at a relatively low elevation. The rain forests of the Hoh, Queets and Quinault river valleys—where some 140 inches of annual precipitation make rainy Seattle seem almost desertlike by comparison—are a tangle of towering Douglas fir, Sitka spruce and western red cedar lording over a patchwork emerald quilt of ferns, mosses and lichens. And the Pacific coastline is stunning isolation personified: crashing waves, craggy sea stacks, mist-shrouded cliffs and beaches strewn with driftwood.
Coexisting with this formidable expanse of wilderness are outposts of civilization like Port Townsend, located just outside the park boundary. This seaport’s salty maritime atmosphere, bounty of good restaurants and thriving arts scene attracts throngs of visiting weekenders and tourists on vacation. But one of the best things about Olympic as a destination is just how far removed from modern civilization it seems. You come expecting to be awed by nature, and you don’t leave disappointed. So where does that place the park on a don’t-miss scale of 1 to 10? We’d rank it pretty high—but you really should take a trip and decide for yourself.
Olympic National Park, WA
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1441 E Washington St. Sequim, WA 98382