10 Facts About Olympic National Park

Located on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, Olympic National Park features one of the most unique collections of landscapes in a U.S. national park. This wilderness area offers over 3 million annual guests a look at old growth forests, glacier-covered mountain peaks, temperate rainforest, and over 70 miles of coastline. Here are a few facts to know about this natural wonder in the Pacific Northwest.

1. THE PARK HAS GROWN IN AREA AND STATUS SINCE THE LATE 19TH CENTURY.

The area that would eventually form Olympic National Park was originally preserved as Olympic Forest Reserve by President Grover Cleveland in 1897. It became Olympic National Forest in 1907. This evolved into Mount Olympus National Monument under President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909, before finally earning the designation of national park in 1938.

2. ROOSEVELT ELK WERE KEY IN THE PARK’S PRESERVATION.

Ken Lund, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Visitors are most likely to spot Roosevelt elk—named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt—in Olympic’s rain forests. Overhunting nearly wiped out the elk in the late 1800s but the creation of Mount Olympus National Monument ensured that the animals would be protected and hopefully avoid extinction. In fact, protecting the elk was so important that, according to the National Park Service, Olympic was almost named Elk National Park.

3. YOU CAN VISIT MOUNT OLYMPUS WITHOUT TRAVELING TO GREECE.

At 7980 feet, Mount Olympus is the highest peak in Olympic National Park. It's also the highest point in the Olympic mountain range.

4. IT'S HOME TO ONE OF THE FEW TEMPERATE RAIN FORESTS IN THE WORLD.


Olympic protects a region of the North America’s remaining temperate rain forests. Filled with mosses and Sitka spruce, the Hoh, Quinault, Queets, and Bogachiel river valleys all have characteristics of this ecosystem. In fact, the Hoh and Quinault Rain Forests are among the park’s most notable features.

5. UNUSUAL WEATHER SPARKED A RAIN FOREST FIRE IN 2015.

Considering that the Hoh Rain Forest receives 12 feet of rain annually, it might seem impossible for the area to catch on fire. However, 2015 was an unusual year for precipitation. When minimal snowpack from the previous winter was followed by the driest spring in over a century, Olympic was more susceptible to fire than ever. A lightning strike in the drought-stricken forest resulted in what became known as the Paradise Fire, which burned from the beginning of June through September.

6. HURRICANE RIDGE IS A POPULAR DESTINATION YEAR-ROUND.

Earning its name from the winds that whip through the area at 70 mph and above, Hurricane Ridge is one of the most popular spots in Olympic National Park. Summer hikes offer striking views of the Olympic Mountains and a chance to spot Pacific Northwest wildlife. The heavy snowpack through much of the year makes it an ideal place for skiing and snowboarding, which is largely overseen by Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area—one of the few lift service ski areas located in a U.S. national park.

7. THE OLYMPIC MARMOT IS ONE OF THE PARK’S FEW ENDEMIC ANIMALS.

Native to the area, the Olympic marmot is one of the endemic species you might spot on a visit to the park. These animals weigh between 8 to 20 pounds and communicate by whistling. Having adapted to the mountain environment, the park’s marmots can hibernate up to two-thirds of the year [PDF].

8. ONCE USED FOR HYDROPOWER, THE ELWHA RIVER NOW RUNS WILD.

claumoho, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Known for its incredible variety of fish, the powerful Elwha River is a prominent and formerly controversial feature in the park. Two dams were constructed on the river in the early 20th century to supply power to local milling operations. While harnessing hydropower helped the economy, it created several negative environmental effects. The Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act was passed in 1992 and by 2014, both the Elwha and Gilnes Canyon Dam had been removed in the largest dam removal project in U.S. history.

9. A COASTAL LOOKOUT PROGRAM WAS ESTABLISHED DURING WORLD WAR II.

Coast guard stations were established on Olympic’s beaches during World War II, because of its highly vulnerable location on the Olympic Peninsula. If an attack were to come from the Pacific, the peninsula was one of the most obvious choices for entry. The strategically placed stations didn’t see much action, although a Russian shipwreck in 1943 stirred up some excitement at the station near La Push.

10. ANCIENT DRAWINGS CAN BE FOUND ON A POPULAR BEACH HIKE.

Visitors can make the most of their Olympic experience by hiking the Ozette Triangle trail and visiting Wedding Rocks, a rocky outcropping on the coastline that showcases drawings carved into the rock. The carvings of whales, hunters, and other symbols are called petroglyphs and were left by the Makah tribe.

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

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The 10 Most Visited National Parks in 2019

Josiah Weiss, Unsplash
Josiah Weiss, Unsplash

The U.S. National Park System comprises more than 400 sites, 62 of which are national parks. Within the parks, visitors can explore forests, deserts, volcanoes, and more. But even with the diversity the National Park System has to offer, many visitors find themselves going to the same iconic parks year after year. To see the most-visited national parks in 2019, check out the list below.

This list comes from recreational visitation data gathered by the National Park Service. It doesn't include national monuments, parkways, or similar units—just the sites with the official "national park" designation.

The Great Smoky Mountains tops the list with roughly 12.5 million visits last year. Stretching across five counties in North Carolina and Tennessee, it's less than a day's drive away for one-third of the U.S. population. The accessibility plus the free admission and gorgeous mountain scenery help make it the country's most popular national park.

It's followed by Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park, which saw 5.97 million visits in 2019 to witness its world-famous views. Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park takes third place with 4.7 million visits, and Utah's Zion National Park takes fourth with 4.5 million. Read on for the full top 10.

The National Park Service was established just over a century ago, and it's amassed a fascinating history. Here are some more facts about the United States's national parks.

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  2. Grand Canyon National Park
  3. Rocky Mountain National Park
  4. Zion National Park
  5. Yosemite National Park
  6. Yellowstone National Park
  7. Acadia National Park
  8. Grand Teton National Park
  9. Olympic National Park
  10. Glacier National Park