Located in the heart of the Olympic Penninsula, Olympic National Park is a beautiful combination of over 100,000 acres of old-growth forests and towering rocky peaks.
Surprisingly this Olympic National Park is not nearly as well-known as its nearby neighbors, North Cascades National Park and Rainier National Park. Still, it's just as worthy of the "national park" title.
On this list, explore a few of the surprising facts that make Olympic National Park worth visiting and which should rank it high on your list of the best national parks in the country.
Make sure to check out our Complete Guide to Olympic National Park article for everything you need to know before visiting!
13. The world's greatest annual snowfall occurs on Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park.
The towering Mount Olympus is the tallest peak in the park and is home to some incredible glaciers. These include the Hoh Glacier, the largest on the mountain, at 3.06 miles long. You can expect to see snow on trails as late as July some years!
12. The Olympics was the site of the world's largest dam removal.
The Elwha Dam, along with the Gilens Canyon Dam, was removed from Olympic National Park in order to replace them with more environmentally friendly solutions.
Removal of the Glines Canyon Dam and the Elwha Dam began in September 2011. Today, both areas are still being restored.
11. Olympic National Park one of the largest national parks in the country
At nearly 1,000,000 acres of land, shoreline, mountains, and forest, the park is one of the largest wilderness areas in the lower 48 states. You could spend an entire lifetime exploring the innumerable trails, streams, waterfalls, rivers, mountains, and glaciers that fill the park's landscape.
10. You can adopt a fish at the park!
A 2014 project known as the Adopt-A-Fish radio tracking project worked to track fish movements in the Elwha River. Individual fish are caught and tagged. If you adopt a fish, you're also supporting the critical wilderness within the park for years to come!
9. The Olympic Mountains formed 30 million years ago.
The mountains formed when two tectonic plates, the North American Plate and the Juan de Fuca Plate, crashed together. The latter is being forced under the former, resulting in the still-developing Olympic Mountains.
8. There are over 200 glaciers in the Olympics.
There are over 200 incredible glaciers in this unique national park, along with some perpetual, or year-round, snowfields that visitors can explore. Unfortuantly, due to climate change, scientists have predicted that every glacier within the park could disappear by 2070.
7. Olympic National Park was first established as a national monument.
When the park was first established in 1909 as a national monument, and then President Theodore Roosevelt made the area a national park in 1939.
A national monument is established due to its historical importance, while a national park, which the Olympics is today, is created due to its scenic beauty and environmental importance.
6. The park includes 73 miles of coastline.
Olympic National Park is also home to more than 70 miles of coast. This includes beaches and coastal forests that are begging to be explored. The area is also well-known for its tidepools which are home to thousands of incredible marine creatures. The most popular area for tidepooling is Kalaloch Beach.
5. Mount Olympus (7,979 feet) is the tallest peak in the park.
Mount Olympus is the tallest mountain in Olympic National Park and stands in stark contrast to the small, rolling hills seen in some sections of the park. The mountain is also home to the Blue Glacier which contains 580,000,000 cu ft of snow and ice. It is one of the lowest glaciers in the United States but is only accessible after hiking in nearly 20 miles.
4. Olympic Marmots are only found in the national park.
These small, house-cat-size creatures with bushy tails are endemic to the region. Adults weigh around 15 pounds and hibernate during the winter. Their preferred habitat is about 4,000 feet. Luckily, new protections in the park have bolstered their numbers since they drastically fell in the 1980s and 90s.
3. There are 611 miles of trails to hike in Olympic National Park.
No matter if you prefer hard hikes up steep, scree-covered trails to rocky summits or peaceful walks through the dense Pacific Northwest rainforest, the park has something for you! There are so many incredible hikes in the area that we made a list of our top 10!
Make sure to check out our 10 Best Hikes in Olympic National Park for everything you need to know about the best hikes in the park!
2. The Hoh Rainforest receives over 12 feet of rain a year.
The Hoh Rainforest is a popular area of the park, world-renowned for its densely moss-covered trees. Take a hike along the Hoh Rainforest Hall of Moss trail for a true PNW experience!
1. Olympic National Park has over 3,000 miles of rivers and streams.
It wouldn't be the Pacific Northwest without cascading streams and rivers. The park features more than 3,000 of them! Some of the largest are:
Hoh River - 56 miles long
Elwha River - 45 miles long
Sol Duc River - 78 miles long
What are two historical facts about Olympic National Park?
The park was initially a national monument until Theodore Roosevelt changed it to a national park. It is also one of the largest wilderness areas in the country, with nearly 1,000,000 acres.
What is Olympic National Park known for?
It is known for dense, green forests, snowy peaks, and Mount Olympus, which is one of the most heavily glaciated peaks in the lower 48.
How old is Olympic National Park?
The park was established in 1938, making it 84 years old. But, the formations within the park are more than 30 million years old!
How many animals are in Olympic National Park?
There are 62 different land mammals in the park. This includes the Olympic marmot which only lives in the park, numerous fish and bird species, and more!
What predators are in Olympic National Park?
Some predators in the park include bobcats, cougars, and black bears.
You Might Also Like
Explore: Ecola State Park Visitor's Guide
Explore: Oregon State and National Parks
Read: Mount Mazama
Visit: Enchanted Valley Campgrounds