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.

We’re Lovin’ the McSki, Sweden’s Ski-Thru McDonald’s

Per-Olof Forsberg, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Per-Olof Forsberg, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Gliding down the slopes for a few hours can leave you happily exhausted and so ravenous that you wish you could stuff a big, juicy burger in your mouth before you even get back to the lodge. At one Swedish ski resort, you can.

Lindvallen, a ski resort located approximately 200 miles northwest of Stockholm, is home to the McSki, a quaint, wood-paneled McDonald’s that you simply ski right up to. If all the surrounding snow leaves you with a hankering for a McFlurry, have at it; Delish reports that you can order anything from the regular McDonald’s menu. (Having said that, we can’t promise the McFlurry machine will actually be working.)

The ski-thru window is ideal for skiers and snowboarders who don’t want to break for a lengthy lunch, but there’s an option for people who would rather not scarf down a combo meal while standing up: According to the blog Messy Nessy, the indoor seating area can accommodate up to 140 people.

The McSki has been delighting (and nourishing) vacationers since it opened in 1996, and it’s definitely a must-visit for ski lovers and fast food aficionados alike. It’s not, however, the strangest McDonald’s restaurant in the world. New Zealand built one inside an airplane, and there’s also a giant Happy Meal-shaped McDonald’s in Dallas. Explore 10 other downright bizarre McDonald’s locations here.

[h/t Delish]

More Than 100 National Parks Are Waiving Fees on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

noblige, iStock via Getty Images
noblige, iStock via Getty Images

The National Park Service is hosting five "free days" in 2020—the first of which lands on January 20. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the NPS is waiving its regular entrance fees at 110 national park properties around the country, USA Today reports.

Of the 400-plus parks managed by the agency, 110 charge admission fees ranging from $5 to $35. These include some of the most popular sites in the system, like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon national parks.

Every one of those parks will be free to visit on Monday. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a day of service, and parks across the U.S. will be hosting service projects for volunteers looking to give back to their communities. If you'd like to participate, you can find volunteer opportunities at your local NPS property here.

If you're just looking for a place to reflect, you can't go wrong with any of the sites in the national park system. Before planning a visit to one the parks below participating in the free day, read up on these facts about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here are the National Parks that will be free on January 20, 2020:

  • Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Adams National Historical Park, Massachusetts
  • Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland
  • Arches National Park, Utah
  • Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland/Virginia
  • Badlands National Park, South Dakota
  • Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
  • Big Bend National Park, Texas
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  • Cabrillo National Monument, California
  • Canaveral National Seashore, Florida
  • Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  • Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
  • Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
  • Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
  • Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Florida
  • Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
  • Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Georgia
  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Maryland/West Virginia/Washington, D.C.
  • Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Georgia
  • Christiansted National Historic Site, U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Colonial National Historical Park, Virginia
  • Colorado National Monument, Colorado
  • Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, Idaho
  • Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia
  • Death Valley National Park, California
  • Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
  • Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
  • Dinosaur National Monument, Utah
  • Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
  • Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, New York
  • Everglades National Park, Florida
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado
  • Fort Davis National Historic Site, Texas
  • Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Maryland
  • Fort Pulaski National Monument, Georgia
  • Fort Smith National Historic Site, Arkansas
  • Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, South Carolina
  • Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Oregon/Washington
  • Fort Washington Park, Maryland
  • Gateway Arch National Park (formerly Jefferson National Expansion Memorial), Missouri
  • Great Falls Park, Virginia
  • Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah/Arizona
  • Golden Spike National Historical Park, Utah
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  • Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Colorado
  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida/Mississippi
  • Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii
  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia/Virginia/Maryland
  • Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
  • Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, New York
  • Hovenweep National Monument, Colorado/Utah
  • Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
  • James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Ohio
  • Joshua Tree National Park, California
  • Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Georgia
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada/Arizona
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
  • Lava Beds National Monument, California
  • Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Oregon/Washington
  • Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
  • Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
  • Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona
  • Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
  • Muir Woods National Monument, California
  • Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
  • Olympic National Park, Washington
  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona
  • Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
  • Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas
  • Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial, Ohio
  • Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
  • Pinnacles National Park, California
  • Pipe Spring National Monument, Arizona
  • Pipestone National Monument, Minnesota
  • Prince William Forest Park, Virginia
  • Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, Hawaii
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, New York
  • Saguaro National Park, Arizona
  • Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, New Hampshire
  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, California
  • San Juan National Historic Site, Puerto Rico
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California
  • Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
  • Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
  • Thomas Edison National Historical Park, New Jersey
  • Tonto National Monument, Arizona
  • Tumacácori National Historical Park, Arizona
  • Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico
  • Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, New York
  • Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi/Louisiana
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument, Arizona
  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, California
  • White Sands National Park, New Mexico
  • Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, Missouri
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial, North Carolina
  • Wupatki National Monument, Arizona
  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Idaho/Montana
  • Yosemite National Park, California
  • Zion National Park, Utah

[h/t USA Today]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER