You might have heard the news: The road to Olympic’s Staircase region has been closed since late November of 2017 due to a washout. While the region is still accessible by foot, the washed out road means that those hoping to camp in the campground or those not able to hike are out of luck. Staircase is one of Olympic’s hidden gems and is growing in popularity, reenergizing the small town of Hoodsport and giving Hood Canal a much needed economic boost, so reopening the road is extremely important.
I have said it before and know I will say it again- America’s Public Lands are multi-sensory experiences.
As our eyes gaze out into the wilderness, our noses smell the scents of the terrain, while our mouths taste the pure, clean air. We wander through trails, touching the ground with our feet and occasionally reaching out to feel the bark of an ancient tree. While all of these are amazing experiences, the sounds found on our public lands are the things that I feel are most underrated and under-appreciated.
On March 2nd, 1909, Teddy Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to create Mount Olympus National Monument, now known as Olympic National Park. Thanks to people like Lieutenant O’Neil and the Press Expedition, the mystery of America’s mountainous Shangri-La started to be explored, mapped and shared with the world. Their experiences and stories captivated the minds of the nation, forcing Presidential action to protect both the land and the wildlife of the wettest corner of the country.
With visitors exploring the rainforests, hiking on the ridges and wandering along the rugged coast, Olympic National Park was a popular place in 2017. During a year which saw washouts and road closures, smoke-filled views and the reopening of popular areas, nearly 3.5 million people explored America’s 8th most-visited National Park.
Happy 146th Birthday to the first National Park!
On March 1st, Yellowstone National Park turned 146 years old! While the land has been around for millions of years, the region now known as Yellowstone National Park was formally protected by the United States Government in 1872. Signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, the Act of Dedication helped create the world’s first National Park and helped inspire a love and protection of Public Lands around the nation.
The majority of visitors to National Parks enter it the same way. Passing through a guard station, we pay our entry fee or show our America the Beautiful Pass and then drive into the beautiful landscapes that rekindle our wanderlust. In Yellowstone, you can drive under the Roosevelt Arch when entering from the north entrance, while other parks, like Mount Rainier, have their own memorable signage. While I love entering parks in the car, there is something incredible about entering into a park by foot, especially on a trail that is often overlooked. In my backyard of the Olympic Peninsula, there are dozens of entry points like this into Olympic National Park. Wild, rugged and removed from the masses, they the perfect entry point for those seeking true wilderness.
Happy Birthday, Olympic National Forest!
From the stunning mountain tops overlooking dense forests to wild and scenic rivers, breathtaking waterfalls and endless amounts of adventure, Olympic National Forest has been captivating the region’s outdoor dreams for twelve decades. We hope you have another 121 years of helping preserve and protect this stunning landscape for all to enjoy and thank you for all you have done.
We hike in wilderness to experience the most pure form of nature, hoping untouched lands still exist. We search for the wildest square miles on the continent, longing to get away from the metropolitans and pavement that brings stress and worry. When we find it, we become addicted, jonesing for the next fix of pure oxygen. We explore rugged ridges, wild coastlines and forests that feel like they are as old as human civilization. We return to a timeless wonderland for a day or a week, reconnecting with the history of Earth with each step. In wilderness, we never expect to see signs of civilization.
I was somewhere near Roaring Winds when the wanderlust began to set in. I remember mumbling something like “this place is flippin fantastic,” but not loud enough for anyone to hear. As a sea of ridges and snowcapped peaks rippled with the faintest wisps of smoke as far as the eye could see, I knew that this would be an adventure that would stick with me for a long time. As my eyes darted out toward Mount Olympus, and then back to the Salish Sea, I sat next to an old wooden sign, slightly askew, like me.
I am not a tall person. Not super short, either, but almost all of my friends are taller than me. It isn’t uncommon for me to feel like everything around me is huge. Yet, even standing next to the tallest of people doesn’t make me feel as small as when I am dwarfed by the awesome grandeur of wilderness. Climbing a peak to see barely finite wilderness expanding as far as the horizon makes me feel like an ant in a State Park and I love that feeling. I long for the days of being completely insignificant in the middle of pure wilderness and recall the days when I was with happiness. One such memory was my first trip up to Glady’s Divide in Olympic National Park. The link is to an old post with old books. Get your new Olympic Guidebook here.
Want to backpack in the very best and most-scenic areas of Olympic National Park for 2018? You better be ready soon! Olympic National Park officials have announced that they will be accepting wilderness permit reservation requests starting in mid-February. You better hurry and submit your permit reservation requests soon- in 2017, Olympic National Park saw 122,000 people in the backcountry, the third highest total out of any National Park in America. Wondering where you need backcountry reservations in Olympic? Keep reading.
Via Yellowstone National Park- Starting Thursday, February 1, visitors to Yellowstone National Park can purchase digital annual and seven-day entrance passes online at YourPassNow. The National Park Service (NPS) partnered with NIC Inc. to develop and administer YourPassNow to better serve visitors to Yellowstone.
Great news for hikers looking to stand atop one of America’s most famous volcanoes! Starting on Thursday, February 1st 2018 at 9am PST, this year’s climbing permits will be available for purchase to summit the stunning peak of Mt. St. Helens. Permits are $22.00 and are limited to just 500 a day from April 1st to May 14th. From May 15th to October 31st, only 100 permits are issued a day.
Sometimes, when in a National Park, unexpected things happen that forever change our nature-loving souls. We wander and explore, unaware that in just a few moments time, we will forge a lifelong relationship with a region that wasn’t at all planned. I refer to them as soul-soothing moments, and in 2017, I had one in Joshua Tree National Park.
In 2017, America’s National Parks celebrated their 101st birthday an welcomed tens of millions of visitors to their stunning scenery. Spurned on by the total eclipse in August and a warmer than average summer, the 59 National Parks had another incredible year. While wildfires and construction hindered visitation to many popular National Parks, the trend of visitation over the past few years continued upward. Some parks moved up on the list, while others dropped, but the 11 most-visited parks in 2017 remained the same as 2016.
Olympic National Park is one of our specialties, and there are few people who know the ins and outs of the park as well as we do. This isn’t said to brag- it is just the truth. As one of America’s most-visited National Parks, the day to day operations are important to us and we want to do our best to keep everyone hoping to explore the wilderness playground on the Olympic Peninsula as informed as possible. To do that, we sometimes share press releases by the NPS about Olympic. The following is the official press release about the government shutdown in Olympic National Park:
Many of us remember the Government Shutdown of 2013. For me, I recall the National Parks closing their gates to millions of visitors over 16 days, and restricting visitor access in nearly every way. I recall stories of armed guards entering busses in Yellowstone, foreign exchange students being ticketed in Olympic National Park, people losing out on their once-in-a-lifetime rafting trip down the Grand Canyon, and a whole list of problems across the country at our Public Lands. The entire thing was a debacle, and luckily, it looks like D.C. may have learned from their previous mistakes.
Sometimes a stormy day in a National Park isn’t a bad thing. As the bad weather approaches, you can sit back and watch as the strength and power of nature shows off in full force. I have had many days of inclement weather on our Public Lands, and while not all were incredible, many stand out as some of my favorite days. Here is one of them, as written for my weekly #NatureWritingChallenge.*
In Yellowstone National Park, 52 bison are missing from a containment pen near the north entrance to the park. Neither hide nor hair have been seen since the night before they went missing. The Yellowstone bison, which are the official mammal of America, were being held for possible quarantine at the Stephens Creek facility, which is closed permanently to the public. The release of these bison is being investigated as a crime, as bison can’t really open fences on their own. The following is from Yellowstone National Park officials: