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Olympic National Park is a national park located in the state of Washington, USA. The park has four basic regions: the Pacific coastline, alpine areas, the west side temperate rainforest and the forests of the drier east side. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt originally created Mount Olympus National Monument in 1909. It was designated a national park by President Franklin Roosevelt on June 29, 1938. In 1976, Olympic National Park became an International Biosphere Reserve, and in 1981 it was designated a World Heritage Site. In 1988, Congress designated 95% of the park as the Olympic Wilderness.
The coastal portion of the park is a rugged, sandy beach along with a strip of adjacent forest. It is about 100 kilometres long but just a few miles wide, with native communities at the mouths of two rivers. There are thick groves of trees adjacent to the sand, which results in chunks of timber from fallen trees on the beach. The mostly unaltered Hoh River, toward the south end of the park, discharges large amounts of naturally eroded timber and other drift, which moves north, enriching the beaches.
Within the center of Olympic National Park rise the Olympic Mountains whose sides and ridgelines are topped with massive, ancient glaciers. The western half of the range is dominated by the peak of Mount Olympus, which rises to 2,428 metres. Mount Olympus receives a large amount of snow, and consequently has the greatest glaciation of any non-volcanic peak in the contiguous United States outside of the North Cascades. It has several glaciers, the largest of which is the Hoh Glacier, nearly five kilometers in length. Looking to the east, the range becomes much drier due to the rain shadow of the western mountains. Here, there are numerous high peaks and craggy ridges. The tallest summit of this area is Mount Deception, at 2,374 metres.
The western side of the park is mantled by a temperate rain forest, including the Hoh Rain Forest and Quinault Rain Forest, which receive annual precipitation of about 3,800mm, making this perhaps the wettest area in the continental United States. As opposed to tropical rainforests and most other temperate rainforest regions, the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest are dominated by coniferous trees.
Olympic National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, although some roads, campgrounds and other visitor facilities close in winter. Call the Olympic National Park Visitor Center at (360)565-3130 for the most current information.
Entrance fees are:
Annual passes for the park and for all American parks are available as well.
All park destinations can be accessed by U.S. Highway 101, which circumnavigates the Olympic Peninsula. From the greater Seattle area and I-5 corridor, you can reach the park by several different routes:
The Washington State Ferry system has a number of routes which access the Olympic Peninsula across Puget Sound.
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