2016 was an excellent year for Olympic National Park, seeing what is slated to be its 6th most-popular year on record. In 366 days of 2016, thanks to a leap day thrown in at the end of February, over 3.4 million people are estimated to have experienced the beauty and majesty of the Pacific Northwest’s favorite National Park. In fact, the year was so good that it nearly became a top five year for this incredible stretch of Pacific Northwest wilderness, missing out on passing 2001’s numbers by mere thousands. For 2016, Olympic was once again the seventh most-visited National Park in America, continuing a streak of top 10 listings since records were officially started in 1979.
As the snow falls on the mountains and hills around the Pacific Northwest, the hiking community struggles to find someplace new and remote, rewarding, accessible and beautiful. Franklin Falls, Lake Wenatchee, Hurricane Ridge, Artist Point, Paradise; the crowds gather at popular winter destinations around the region, bottlenecked by a lack of accessibility to other regions. Surrounded by a wealth of natural wonders, residents of Washington find ourselves repeating the same trips, or staying indoors until the weather gets better. Don’t fall into that trap. In the winter, while many will try to be awesome and climb high for epic, snowy, panoramic views, hundreds of miles of trails are sitting mostly empty along the wild and scenic rivers of Olympic National Park and Peninsula. One such river, the Dosewallips, is the ideal place to get away and experience the beauty of nature, just a short drive from the major cities of the Puget Sound.
As we near the end of the year, many will celebrate the end of a rough 2016. While it wasn’t an ideal year for many, it was a still a banner year for nature, The Outdoor Society and the hiking community. In a year that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the National Parks, witnessed an election that divided the country and experienced incredible weather events, we saw our greatest year yet. Receiving amazing traffic to the website, fantastic book sale numbers and dozens of stunning trips to the best scenic wonderlands in the West, 2016 was a good year for The Outdoor Society. We thank you all for your support and have even more amazing things planned in 2017.
As a brutal and difficult 2016 ends and the days of 2017 become a reality, we are taking one last look back at and celebrating an awesome year for America’s National Parks. In 2016, over 80 million people visited one of America’s 59 National Parks on the centennial of their creation. All across the country, millions of people explored America’s best idea, all looking to reconnect to someplace wild, beautiful and soul soothing. From the Smoky Mountains to the desserts of Joshua Tree and everywhere in between, the following areas encouraged and inspired future generations to connect and protect these beautiful destinations.
As a resident of the Puget Sound Region of the PNW, I never expect a White Christmas. If you are a resident of Western Washington, you shouldn’t either. Over the last century, the city of Seattle has only had four Christmas Days with snowfall. In outlying areas, the total is higher, but not much. In the Pacific Northwest, snowy holidays are what we see on Instagram or what we hear crooned on our holiday Pandora station. Around the Puget Sound, Salish Sea and wilderness coast, if we crave a snowy Christmas experience, we usually head to the mountains. This year, with an above average snowpack for the entire Pacific Northwest, you can have a white Christmas with ease. While my last two snowpack articles have been full of data and a bit long winded, this is going to be short and sweet so we can all enjoy the holidays.
Few places in the world produce pure joy and happiness with just one glance, but Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge does that with ease. A mile above the Strait of Juan de Fuca and just a short 17 mile drive from the fantastic outdoor recreation town of Port Angeles, Washington, Hurricane Ridge is one of America’s most-underrated nature destinations. Open year round in the summer, the area is only accessible during the snowy months on the weekends, making a trip to the region a limited edition experience. Plan ahead, grab your snow gear and camera and hit up The Ridge this winter. This is a family-friendly adventure you don’t want to miss.
Over the last 32 years, the forests of the Olympic Peninsula have slowly been returning. Recovering from the heyday of the logging industry, hillsides and valleys, ridge lines and fields have once again become filled with trees. Thanks to a series of satellite images, we can now see just how much of the Olympic Peninsula has been reclaimed by nature. In just over three decades, the region is starting to recover from the sixty years of mass deforestation and we think it looks awesome.
It should really come as no surprise.
Leading up to this nearly 8,000 foot mountain in the center of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, the Hoh River Valley is known for endless rain that creates the Hoh Rainforest. Receiving over 14 feet of rain a year, the Hoh region of Olympic is one of the wettest spots in the contiguous United States. While most who visit this popular wilderness National Park fall in love with the endless green the rain produces, the mountains above are filled with more glaciers than Glacier National Park and get slammed by endless, powerful moisture-filled storms rolling off the Pacific Ocean. For the past two weeks, Mount Olympus, the highest summit in the Olympic Mountains, has been getting the brunt of this incredible winter weather.
The last week of fall is here, meaning that true winter is just around the corner. For most of the Olympic Peninsula, winter has been in full force for the better part of December. After a wet and wild fall, cold air is sitting on our region, giving our mountains a well-deserved blanket of snow. While the past seven days have been snowy in places, the majority of the snowpack around the Olympic Mountains has seen small, incremental growth. No major storms rolled in, but the current snowpack is still a whopping 170% of normal for this time of year. This is awesome!
Life is hard and then, for most of us, it somehow gets harder. We keep fighting to keep our head above water, to stand tall in the face of adversity and to fight on. That is one of the reasons so many of us resonate with the Root Tree at Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park. Defying the odds, this tree is holding on by its roots, surviving against the power of erosion and the elements. Struggling and somehow living another day, we are inspired by its resilience, strength and beauty. As one of the unofficial representatives to the Washington Coast, the Kalaloch Root Tree is an introduction to the beaches of Olympic and a gateway to beautiful, rugged wilderness and the power of the Washington Coast.
Overlooked by the masses who head to the mosses of the Hoh, the Bogachiel Rainforest might be one of America’s best kept secrets. Just a few short miles form the small logging town of Forks, Washington, this wild and scenic river on the Olympic Peninsula is home to iconic rainforest trails and access to a remote corner of Olympic National Park. Closed in March of 2016, when the Bogachiel River shifted course and wiped out part of the trail, the area has now reopened, once again allowing endless wilderness exploration in a hidden corner of the Olympics. Full of history, majestic forests and a lifetime of breathtaking rainforest views, the Bogachiel needs to be your next Olympic destination. The beauty of the Bogachiel helped inspire the creation of Olympic National Park, so why not explore it on your next day off?
Snow has fallen all around the lowlands of the Pacific Northwest, so you know what time it is!
Welcome to the first of many snowpack updates for the Olympic Mountains for the winter of 2016-17. As I am writing this, I am watching the four inches of snow we received last night in Olympia melt away while looking at forecasts for more snow in the Olympic Mountains. So far, this winter has been great for building up our snowpack and the trend of snow in the mountains without serious melt-off looks to continue. Did you see the Olympics, covered in snow, from space?
Join us in downtown Olympia at Three Magnets Brewing on December 19th. There will be stories, laughs, calendars and good times!
Our LIVE events are held at Three Magnets Brewing in downtown Olympia.
They have delicious beer and food and have a family-friendly atmosphere.
Three Magnets Brewing Co. – 600 Franklin St SE Olympia, WA 98501
Another day, another ridiculous political story.
Like a monstrous earthquake along a huge fault line running the length of the Washington Cascades, Eastern Washington wants to break away from Western Washington. Legislators from the eastern side of the Evergreen State are hoping they can form a new state, called Liberty. They are apparently hoping to break free from the evilness that Western Washington has plagued upon the pastoral region.
Every now and then, we get cool satellite images of the Pacific Northwest that leaves us in awe at the beauty of our home. Under clear skies, we get to see incredible glimpses of our corner of the world in ways unfathomable a few generations ago. On December 6th, 2016, after what seemed like months of rain and then a cold streak that brought lowland snow, the skies parted and let us stare in wonder at the snowy summits surrounding the Puget Sound.
Each year, when daylight hours start to dwindle and the temperature hovers around freezing, an excitement builds around the Pacific Northwest. As newscasters pretext not whip us into a frenzy over incoming winter weather conditions, the freezing level starts falling toward sea-level, raising our expectations for a chance to experience a winter wonderland. When it snows in the Pacific Northwest, our normal world full of endless green transforms, wrapping itself in a silent blanket of white. The first winter snowfall on our favorite trails leads us into an unexpected wonderland, inspiring snowy adventures in what no feels like a foreign landscape.
Winter in our National Parks can give the most spectacular memories and experiences of any season. America’s seventh most-visited National Park, Olympic, is home to seven of the most unique winter experiences in the country. From skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing on snowy ridges, to walking along rainforest rivers full of salmon, and watching storms on the coast, Olympic has something for everyone. 611 miles of trails await you in this park that is 95% wilderness, making Olympic a perfect destination to get away from it all before and after the winter season.