Olympic National Park
Nature travel has many positive effects which makes it important to get on board with a National Park vacation. A National Park is a large area of public land set aside for native plants and animals. It protects the places that were important to Aboriginal people and places that show how they lived in the past. Olympic National Park provides a beautiful arena for bird watching.
Visiting National Parks became necessary to safeguard our economy, our cultural, spiritual, and aesthetic values and the intrinsic value of species and ecosystem. One such park is Washington’s Olympic National Park. It covers nearly 1 million acres of land and its stunning landscapes have earned this park World Heritage Status.
Overview of Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park was established in 1938. Located in the state of Washington, the park was designated as a National Park by Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt.
The typical image of the park is a dark, damp, overwhelmingly beautiful temperate rainforest. But the park also shelters alpine highlands, tranquil lakeshores, and a wild Pacific coastline that seems totally untouched by humans. This also gives a great opportunity to bird watch as well.
It is possible to enter the park from almost two dozen spots off the Olympic Highway but the most popular is via Port Angeles. The city’s Visitor Center provides the usual range of information including books, maps, as well as a hands-on exhibit of the park’s human and natural history.
Hurricane Ridge is a popular place of interest in Olympic National Park. Besides offering amazing views, Hurricane Ridge offers a variety of spectacular hiking trails too.
Lake Crescent, also in Olympic National Park, is a crystal clear, glacially carved lake. Some interesting activities at this popular spot includes boating, hiking, and camping.
Mora and Rialto Beach is another famous spot in the park that offers dramatic coastal scenery. It is also a great place to look for sea lions, otters, whales, seabirds, and eagles. Sol Duc Valley, Kalaloch and Ruby Beach, Hoh Rain Forest, and Staircase are other spots in the park worth visiting.
With over 503 species of birds spotted in the state of Washington, Olympic National Park is a popular bird watching site too. Birders and ornithologists from across the globe visit it to identify unfamiliar birds.
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Olympic National Park Hotels
There are almost a million acres in Olympic National Park. So you need to stay a night or two in the park to experience its beauty! There are a wealth of places including hotels, lodges, cabins, and motels where you can stay.
For instance, Kalaloch Lodge is a perfect lodging option in the park. While some prefer the coziness of the main lodge, others prefer the privacy of cabins.
Lake Crescent Lodge was built in 1915. It has comfortable and spacious rooms that are nestled among the giant fir and hemlock trees on the shores of the tranquil Lake Crescent. Here, you can unwind by the stone fireplace or take in the spectacular views of the sunset.
Another option is the charming Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. Its cabins are surrounded by towering evergreens along the river in a picturesque valley.
Lastly, Log Cabin Resort offers a rustic retreat with exceptional views. It offers a variety of accommodations including lakeside chalets, comfortable lodge rooms, camper cabins, camping log cabins, and rustic cabins.
Olympic National Park Camping
There can be no better way to experience one million acres of rainforest, coastline and alpine terrain of the Olympic National Park than staying in a camp. While camping you can also bird watch.
For incredible views in Olympic National Park, head to Deer Park Campground. It is one of the drier places in the park as it sits on the eastern side of the park.
Fairholme Campground offers you a chance to camp near the clear and blue waters of Lake Crescent. It has 88 sites that come equipped with fire pits and picnic tables.
You can also place yourself at the heart of the rainforest at Hoh campground. Surrounded by ancient trees, bigleaf maples, and vine maples, Hoh Campground’s 88 sites are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
There’s even a campsite alongside the Pacific Ocean, Kalaloch Campground . It is the largest campground in Olympic National Park and provides access to a dump station, flushable toilets, and potable water.
Olympic National Park Hiking
A first time visitor might find it difficult to figure out how to make the most of a visit to Olympic National Park. With over a million acres of park to explore and four varied ecological regions, there is just so much to see. In this case, hiking comes to your rescue. It is the best way to explore a National Park.
There are many wonderful hikes available in Olympic National Park. Some are short enough that they can be easily combined with others for a good day of exploration. Don’t forget your binoculars so that you can bird watch while hiking.
While Enchanted Valley Trail takes you to coastal rainforest among old-growth trees and numerous waterfalls, Quinault Rainforest trail provides universal access to the most strewn landscape.
Additionally, Sol Duc Falls Trail provides access to the stunning Seven Lakes Basin on the north side of the park. Its route navigates lush forests encompassing towering trees and many shades of green.
Finally, Ozette Triangle Loop is one of the most popular coastal areas in the park. It combines the beauty of lush forests and rugged beachscapes.
Bird Watching in Olympic National Park
Over 300 species of birds have been spotted in Jefferson County, 375 in Clallam, 243 in Mason, and 358 in Grays Harbor, making Olympic National Park an ideal bird watching site.
The park encompasses four different ecosystems – mountains, rivers, forests and the coastline. Due to this, it attracts a huge number of bird species. The diverse habitats allow for diverse bird species, including Red-breasted Sapsucker, Rhinoceros Auklet, Canada Jay, and Anna’s Hummingbird.
10 Birds to see Year Round in Olympic National Park
Brant is a small goose of the ocean shores and breeds in high Arctic Tundra. It has a black head, neck, and chest. It is also known as ‘Brent Goose’ and resembles a Canada Goose.
The Harlequin Duck is a medium-sized diving duck. They are generally found in rushing rivers, diving and swimming. It eats mollusks, crustaceans, and insects. Sometimes, it also feeds on small fish and aquatic worms. Its nest site is on ground, usually near water, well hidden under bushes, or among rocks.
California Quail are plump, short-necked birds with a small head and bill. Its tail is fairly long and square. Both male and female have a comma shaped topknot of feathers projecting forward from the forehead. Adult males are rich gray and brown with a black face outline with white stripes while females are plain brown and lack facial markings. Both sexes have a pattern of creamy and chestnut scales on the belly.
Anna’s Hummingbirds are medium-sized and stocky for a hummingbird. A straight bill and a fairly broad tail are other characteristics of these hummingbirds. They are mostly green and gray with reddish-pink feathers on head and throat. These hummingbirds can be found in yards, streets, parks, riverside woods, savannah and coastal scrub. They hover around flowers for nectar and insects.
Black Oystercatcher is a large shore bird with a black head and body. It has a large, red-colored bill, and dull pink legs. A noisy bird of the Pacific Coast, it can be found along rocky shores from Alaska to California.
Rhinoceros Auklet is a medium-sized, stocky water bird. It is dark gray except for white belly. Breeding adults have a horn that protrudes from their orange bill and two white plumes on its face. Non-breeding have reduced white plumes on the face.
Northern Pygmy Owl
Northern Pygmy Owl is small with a large, circular head that lacks ear tufts. Their tail is long and wings are fairly short and rounded. They are brown with fine white speckles on the head and white spots on the back. Their eyes and bill are yellow. They mainly eat small birds and are found in western North America. These owls can also be spotted in towns, especially during winters when they move to lower elevations.
Red-breasted Sapsuckers are the denizen of coniferous forests of northern Pacific Coast and usually found at middle and lower elevations. Beautiful plumage, red-head, and bold white slash on the shoulder are some physical characteristics of the Red-breasted Sapsucker. They usually feed on small insects.
Peregrine Falcons are one of the largest falcons with long, pointed wings and a long tail. Adults are blue-gray above with barred underparts. Juveniles are heavily marked with vertical streaks. They catch medium-sized birds and are also very skillful at catching pigeons. They feed especially on shorebirds and ducks. Peregrine Falcons can be found perching or nesting on skyscrapers, water towers, cliffs, power pylons, and other tall structures.
Canada Jays are stocky, fairly large songbirds with a short, stout bill. They have a round head and long tail with broad and rounded wings. They are dark gray above and light gray below. Canada Jays are typically found in small groups. Their diet is broad, eating anything from berries to carrion to handouts from hikers.
National Parks are one of the best destinations for those seeking adventure. But heading to National Parks requires a certain amount of preparation. Do not expect seasons to give you the perfect weather forecast. Always plan ahead, especially if you want to camp in the park.
Lastly, try to explore as much as you can and click splendid shots as memories of your trip to Olympic National Park. Don’t forget to take in all the bird watching!