Tumbling down from the craggy summits of the Olympic Mountains, the rivers of Olympic National Park are as wild and scenic as anywhere in the world. Fueled by glaciers, melting snowpack and endless deluges of rain, the waterways of the Pacific Northwest’s iconic peninsula are our lifeblood. Water transforms the region into a hydrological wonderland- a land where being damp and wet means you are home. For thousands of years, the rivers of the Olympic Peninsula were a source of food and remained mostly untouched. The riverbanks shifted through the valleys in which they ran, swinging wildly back and forth, searching for the lowest point to reach the ocean.
If you want to get into a National Park for free in 2018, you’ll need to put down these dates in your Outdoor Society calendar. Just announced by the National Park Service, the fee free days for 2018 have been released and the list is incredible disappointing. Offering just four fee free days for the new year, down from 10 in 2017, those on a tight budget that hope to see America’s best ideas in person will need to plan well.
The Outdoor Society is pleased to announce the release of our brand new book, 52 Olympic Peninsula Hikes. Created out of love for the region, which we call our home, Douglas and Mathias have poured their heart and soul into creating an instant classic for hikers and adventurers hoping to get to know the Olympic Peninsula even better. Finally filling the void of stunningly beautiful and informational guidebooks, 52 Olympic Peninsula Hikes is the inspirational, locally written guide for which you have been searching.
We all have a mountain or trail in our “backyard,” which is hiked often and still captivates your sense of adventure and wanderlust. For me, it is Mount Ellinor above Hood Canal in Washington State, just 90 minutes from my door. At 5,944 feet above sea level, which is found less than 20 miles away, Ellinor is one of the classic hikes in the Pacific Northwest. Year round, it can be summited, rewarding those with a love of breathtaking views with a world class panorama. I have climbed her rocky flanks dozens of times over the past few years, each time different than the last. She is my crush, the object of my desire and more often than not, I find myself daydreaming of trips up her beautiful summit. One such trip was a winter trek, one that I look back on years later with the fondest of memories.
Sunsets are some of the most awe-inspiring moments in our lives. Plunging down beneath the horizon, there is something un-mistakingly soul-nourishing about them. In the most depressed days of my life, I always found a sunset in nature to be one of the most rewarding parts of my day and I am sure I am not alone. While many sunsets blend together, we all have a handful of moments, before darkness takes over, that stay with us forever. For me, one of those sunsets was found along a remote canyon in Southeastern Montana. Before I saw this sunset, I had no idea the location existed, but now the sights are forever etched in my mind’s eye.
“Winter means everything to us. Riding snow is our passion, and Hurricane Ridge is our Valhalla.” ~ Mitch Zenobi
There are those who gaze up at the Olympic Mountains from the beautiful, remote city of Port Angeles, Washington. Sitting on a bar stool, sipping a local brew and looking at the clouds, a handful of Olympic Peninsula residents wait impatiently for it to snow. Watching 5,000 feet from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, pairs of eyes scan the ridges, hoping that powdery magic has fallen. While I don’t live in Port Angeles, my eyes also dart toward the Olympic summits, eagerly anticipating the return of winter snow. Go and explore Hurricane Ridge in the winter wonderland this weekend!
As you may have heard, the rates to enter America’s favorite public lands may be increasing to $70 during the peak season of 2018. While many are in a panic about the rate increase, those of us in the know for visiting our federally operated public lands already pay just $10 more a year for entry to all federal lands. Known as the America the Beautiful Pass, this $80 expense is one of the smartest purchase you can make. For the cost of a movie and popcorn for a family of four, you can have unlimited access to the very best outdoor destinations. With our further ado, we share seven reasons why you should purchase this pass ASAP.
Update: Looks like the secret is out! Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons have seen a dramatic increase in the sale of the America the Beautiful passes. Pick up yours today before the Department of Interior decides to raise the price for these passes!
You might have seen the news that the cost to enter America’s most-popular National Parks might increase.
The Department of Interior has issued a proposal for a fee increase to some of America’s most-visited public lands. The fees are currently slated to occur only during the peak visitation season at 17 of the nation’s 59 National Parks, starting in 2018. If accepted, visitors buying passes at the gates of National Parks will be handing over over double the amount they paid in 2017.
The world is not going to end soon. Sorry to burst your bubble. As much a many may want it, thanks to the current climate of politics in America, the demise of the human race isn’t going to be happening. At least, not from the Yellowstone Supervolcano that has been garnering so much attention in recent days. In case you have missed it, news recently broke that the huge volcano looming under America’s first National Park has “Planet Killing Potential” and “Yellowstone supervolcano could blow faster than thought, destroy all of mankind.” The news doesn’t look good to the outside observer, but like most things, dig a little deeper and the truth is easy to find. These headlines screaming about the demise of humanity should only be viewed as bullshit sensationalism.
We all know the Olympic National Park is pretty much the greatest park to hike. With beaches on the wild Pacific Coast, thousands of rocky, high-alpine ridges that lead amazing panoramic views, and rainforests as green and dense as a lobotomized Kermit the Frog, Olympic National Park is home to some of the greatest trails in the country. Over 611 miles of trails weave through the various eco-systems of Olympic National Park, but one trail encompasses nearly all of them. Made even better by the brilliant colors of autumn, the trek up to Upper Royal Basin will leave you blown away by beauty.
In a move that should not come as a shock to anyone paying attention to the weather forecast, officials in Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest have canceled the fire restrictions that started on September 1st. With significant rain fall around the region and snow levels dropping down to 5,000 feet this week, the danger of forest fires has dramatically been reduced. While the fire danger is now reduced, please continue to follow fire safety rules. If you do have a fire while camping in Olympic, be smart, safe and always extinguish your fire fully before leaving camp.
Fall in Olympic National Park is full of beauty and wonder unlike anywhere else in the world. The moment snow dusts the towering, craggy peaks of the Olympic Mountains, the rainforest river valleys below become alive. When the snow hits the mountains, rain in the lower elevations triggers something in the plants and animals. Almost overnight, the forest floor erupts in mushrooms, the leaves on the huge maples in the Hoh and Quinault start to turn color, slowly falling on the elk majestically bugling away the morning and evening hours. Salmon, returning to their spawning grounds after years at sea swim upstream, jump over logjams and rocky cascades to the arriving to fulfill their life mission in the famous waters of the Hoh, Quinault, Sol Duc and Elwha Rivers.
Just like that, fires in the Pacific Northwest have closed part of a National Park. Announced Tuesday, September 5th of 2017, the eastern side of Mount Rainier, including the Tipsoo Lake, White River and Sunrise areas are closed to the public. While the closure comes after the Labor Day holiday, the fires are impacting the visibility, mood and spirit of all residents of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. This announcement is only for Mount Rainier and the surrounding region. Please be smart and safe and support the firefighters working the region.
In news that should come as no surprise, thanks to the ridiculous streak of high temperatures and next to no rainfall, Olympic National Park and Forest officials have issued a ban on campfires in the backcountry, including the coastal sections of the park. According to a press release from Olympic National Park, campfires will be allowed ONLY in developed campgrounds and picnic areas only until further notice. The ban and restrictions will last until further notice, which could stretch through September. Those looking to cook food in the wilderness backcountry of the park and forest are only able to use stoves wilderness backcountry, which need to be operated away from any and all flammable vegetation and forest litter. Extreme caution with any open flame is required.
VIA ONP: The Olympic Hot Springs Road in the Elwha Valley re-opened today above the Glines Canyon Overlook to the Boulder Creek Trailhead. Olympic National Park road and trail crews completed the demolition and removal of the Crystal Creek bridge on Boulder Creek Trail and installed an alternate route and foot log at that location to restore access for hikers. Stock access on Boulder Creek Trail will be restored later this fall after additional rock work is completed.
The Outdoor Industry is flexing some serious economic muscle around the country. In a study released at the end of July of 2017, the economic impact of outdoor enthusiasts is more than most realize, generating billions of dollars in taxable revenue and creating millions of jobs around the country. America’s Outdoor Recreation Industry is the 4th highest consumer spending industry in the nation, thanks to millions of people who get outdoors each year. Washington State is one of the regions leading the way in the Outdoor Industry and the impact of hikers, climbers, bikers and campers is flabbergastingly huge.
On the Olympic Peninsula, mountain goats have been known to cause a lot of drama. Introduced to Olympic on January 1st, 1925 the United States Forest Service released four mountain goats near Mount Storm King above Lake Crescent. The goats, from the Selkirk Mountains in Canada, were placed on Mount Storm King as an experiment to see how adaptable they would be to the rugged mountains of the Olympics. The goat’s ability to adapt, as well as reproduce, saw their numbers increase rapidly, making mountain goat sightings a frequent event on numerous peaks on the Olympic Peninsula. Now, the Park wants to know your thoughts on the goats and their future.
Visitors to America’s First National Park have a new trail to take in the splendor and beauty of one of the world’s most-iconic Hot Springs. Located at the Midway Geyser Basin next to the Firehole River, the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring has been captivating visitors to the park since it was first viewed. Now, thanks to a joint effort between Yellowstone National Park, Montana Conservation Corps and Yellowstone’s Youth Conservation Corps anew viewpoint platform and path lead to a breathtaking view of this gorgeous region.
Just like in late July 2016, the waters of the Hood Canal are turning a brilliant blue, causing many residents and visitors to wonder what had happened to the usually dark waters of Washington State’s most famous fjord. The answer is actually a pretty simple one- the water color changed due to a phytoplankton bloom. Thanks to satellite imagery, we are able to see just how impressive the bloom is, as it was visible from space. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory website, the bloom turned the waters a milky blue color, due to microscopic plankton called Coccolithophores that are plated with white calcium carbonate. The plates can impart a milky, turquoise hue to the water that is often visible from space.
Now that summer is in full swing, hiking season is going strong. Each weekend, trails around the region are packed with enthusiastic nature lovers, hoping for an incredible adventure around the region. As the snow is melting out from all but a few spots of our favorite high alpine trails, the entire Pacific Northwest’s wonderland of trails is accessible and ready for you! We return to our old favorite trails, long ignored from a winter’s worth of snow while new hikers are discovering their own favorite places far from the confines of simple trails. Even those of us who have been hiking year-round are reaching further and further into the interior of the beauty of Cascadia, reconnecting with nature one step at a time. While 99.9% of us will hike out and back with no issues, we find the start of summer hiking season to be a great time to remind everyone to stay safe and to be smart.