I usually write about Olympic National Park for my #NatureWritingChallenge, but sometimes I need to bring it all back to the wilderness around America’s first National Park and celebrate the public lands that help bring the conservation revolution to the forefront of America. Yellowstone has always had a special place in my heart, captivating my imagination since my first trip there as a seven year old. I have seen the park in every month of the year, one winter, I witnessed something I had never seen before.
It was probably the 1990s. I recall being full of teen angst at the world, my “pain” encapsulated by the melodic mumbles of fellow harborite Kurt Cobain. It was summer and I was visiting my grandparents yet again, exploring everything interesting that the lavender-filled fields of Sequim had to offer. I had visited them every weekend for months, exhausting the wonders that this small Olympic Peninsula town had to offer. We went to the game farm a few times. We went out to Dungeness Spit. We drove to Port Angeles. It was the 90s, the Peninsula was a much different place.
In case you missed the news, Secretary Zinke and the Department of Interior WILL NOT be upping entrance fees to $70 per visit to our National Parks. With hundreds of thousands of comments, 99% of which were against the ridiculous fee increase, Interior backed away from the proposal. While we should celebrate the fact that our voices mattered in this, I regret to let you know that I am the bearer of bad news.
In late March, hundreds of runners gathered in Richland, Washington to run the mighty early-season Badger Mountain Challenge race.
With “just” 17,000 ft. of elevation change over a 100M distance on a seemingly reasonable course and with an affordable entry fee, this race is a perfect introduction to 100M races. The six UTMB points also make it a very tempting proposition for folks drawn to the iconic race in Chamonix. For many, southeastern Washington is off the beaten path and an early season race can be difficult to train for in the rough, winter months. An injury prevented me from consistent training and the dream of six UTMB points and a first 100M under my belt were out the window. But others went and did amazing.
There are places on America’s public lands that are often overlooked, skipped over for the more popular and well-known destinations. Each year, as millions explore the must-see spots around our National Parks, a handful of adventurers find themselves satiating their wanderlust on trails that are off the beaten path. For me, one of those favorite, underrated regions is the Bogachiel Rainforest region of the Olympic Peninsula. Here, where dense forests meet stunning river scenes, the wildness of the Olympics is impossible to ignore. While many overlooked areas are far from cities or roads, the Bogachiel is right off of Highway 101 by Forks, making it a perfect “secret” spot to explore for all who pass through the region.
Glacier National Park, known as the backbone of America, is quickly readying itself for another busy summer. As one of America’s most-popular National Parks, Glacier has a tough job getting ready after each snowy winter season. Considered to be the crown of the continent, Glacier National Park gives visitors unrivaled access to pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. However, before we can all explore this amazing, alpine-wilderness destination, roads must be cleaned and cleared.
Heading to Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge this summer? Be prepared for some traffic delays due to needed construction starting on April 9th, 2018. While the delays may be a bummer to your trip to the Shangri-La of the Olympic Peninsula, don’t let the traffic stop you from visiting this stunning region. At worst, the delays, which take place on the first five miles of the gorgeous 17 mile road, will only be for 20 minutes at a time.
The first hint of warm weather after the rainy season is enough to drive someone mad with glee. After a long winter, full of wind and rain and what always feels like an oppressing gray cloud both in the sky and in the mind, the first sunny day of spring stirs up long lost emotions. Maybe it is the first hit of Vitamin D, or maybe it is the anticipation of what is to come, but that first sunny day after a long winter has me grinning from ear to ear.
National Park visitors love bears. If you don’t believe me, just hit up Yellowstone National Park in May or June and see people lose their minds at the sight of a grizzly or black bear. Bear jams will snarl traffic for hours, and if cubs are around, you might witness people jumping out of their cars to try and snap a picture. Bears in National Parks make people indescribably giddy, and now that spring is here, the bear madness will start again. Luckily, we can nw watch bears from our screens, thanks to a webcam at Glacier National Park.
Good news for those going to Yellowstone between now and April 20th, 2018. Many of the park’s roads are open for foot traffic! That means you can explore some sections of the park on your bike or on foot without worrying about cars or traffic. Below is a press release from Yellowstone National Park, as well as a few pictures from my road adventure in the park on March 27th.
Where America’s longest free-flowing River leaves the nation’s first National Park, you find Paradise Valley. Flanked by towering summits, high-alpine lakes and a lifetime of backcountry exploration, this small section of Montana truly is one of the last best places around. Known for hot springs and fly fishing, backpacking and grizzly bears, this region is often the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Beautiful beyond words, Paradise Valley lives up to the name, but if mining interests have their say, that might not be the case for much longer.
Spring has officially started, so you know what that means! Roads around Olympic National Park are starting to reopen. While we are still months away from Deer Park and Obstruction Point Road opening up, we are happy to announce that the road leading to Sol Duc opened on March 23rd, 2018. Home to waterfalls, hot springs and incredible camping, the opening of this road gives access to yet another truly stunning wilderness gem in Olympic National Park.
I am an old millennial. The youth of my generation is eating a mortgages worth of avocados while I worry about my changing glasses prescription and needing a new pair. As others in my generation galavant around the globe ruining chain restaurants and department stores, I do things like read reviews to see what the best envelopes are to send out books. Sometimes, I don’t get the rest of my generation at all, feeling ostracized when I say I don’t really like LaCroix. I think I am the old man of the bunch, a geezer on the porch, sitting in a rocking chair at the old age of 36 shaking my head at these young whippersnapper. Well, back in my day…
Love marmots, hiking, alpine views and spending time in the great outdoors of the Olympic Peninsula? Now you can help a species and get into wilderness, thanks to the Marmot Monitoring Program in Olympic National Park. For those hoping to watch these furry, adorable, high-alpine dwellers, Olympic National Park is happy to announce that they are now accepting volunteer applications for the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program 2017 survey season! This is a fantastic way to explore the park, help out the official endemic mammal of Washington and support your Public Lands! Hurry though, the applications deadline is June 1st!
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.