Olympic National Park, in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula, is a diversely beautiful corner of the country, combining features of Maine’s rocky coast and the snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains with the unique rainforests covering the park’s Pacific coastal valleys. The rugged, nearly million-acre landscape, ranging from rocky shores to impassably dense forests, resisted exploitation and development until the turn of the 20th century, when local conservationists persuaded Teddy Roosevelt to declare much of the peninsula a national monument, a movement that eventually resulted in the establishment of Olympic National Park in 1938.
There are no roads and few trails across the peninsula, so you have to choose your points of entry depending upon what you want to see. The different areas of Olympic National Park are covered in the surrounding pages, but the most popular part of the park is Hurricane Ridge, which rises high above Port Angeles and offers great views of the silvery peaks and the many glaciers that flank them. (The wildflowers can be spectacular in late spring.)
At the northwestern corner of the park, Lake Crescent sits serenely amid the forests and peaks, while on the western slopes, the temperate rainforests of the usually wet and rainy river valleys hold some of the world’s largest trees, all draped with a thick fabric of mosses. At the western edge of the peninsula, the almost completely undeveloped Pacific Ocean coastline, added to the park in 1953, offers miles of sandy beaches and rocky headlands, littered only with driftwood logs and vibrant tide pools.