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.
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.
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.
Few hikes perfectly encapsulate the spirit and feel of a region like Gladys Divide does for the Staircase region of Olympic National Park. Full of stunning views, breathtaking lakes, wilderness adventure and relative solitude in the midst of unrivaled natural beauty, the long trek to Gladys Divide is one of those trails you’ll yearn to hike, year after year.
A rugged peak exists in the Southeast corner of the Olympic National Park where few hikers venture to go. The top is ragged in places, with exposed rocks teetering precariously at the top of a 3,000ft summit, giving unrivaled views of one of America’s most wonderful wilderness regions. Rarely visited, seeing only a handful of hikers each month, Olympic’s Cub Peak is a mountain you need to experience this summer. Considered to be the steepest hike, per mile, from a parking area in Olympic National Park, Cub Peak is one of our favorite destinations high above the Hood Canal.
In a simple and quick post to Olympic National Park’s Facebook page, the announcement we were all waiting for occurred on March 29th, 2017. It reads a follows: The Elwha (Olympic Hot Springs) Road is now OPEN to vehicle traffic, to just above the Glines Canyon Overlook. The Whiskey Bend Road is now OPEN all the way to the trailhead.
Tucked away in the forgotten corner of the Pacific Northwest, hours from what most consider civilization, 611 miles of hiking trails are ready to take you on an unforgettable journey into the most beautiful wilderness in the lower 48. Below dense fir and towering cedar trees, along wild and scenic rivers full of spawning salmon, out along the rugged and rocky coast or up on peaks only summited a handful of times, well beaten, unmaintained paths lead you to some of the most-scenic wilderness destinations in the world. Full of awe and wonder, every inch of Olympic National Park will rejuvenate your soul and replenish your desire to get outside and explore.
In March, April and the early parts of the month of May, the Washington Coast becomes a highway for 20,000+ Gray Whales migrating back to the cool waters of Alaska, with babies in tow. Swimming just 1/2 mile or less from the crashing waves on the rugged beaches of the Pacific Coast, the gray whales partake in not just an amazing migration, but also a chance for the millions who live with a few hours drive of the ocean to see these massive sea dwelling mammals.
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.
The world is a hectic place, with the noise of uncertainty distracting us from our own needs. We are stressed as a society, running full speed in the rat race of life, hoping our hard work is rewarded with a lot of cheese. We are often overwhelmed by the sheer responsibility of “adulting,” finding solace in binge watching shows and a release by screaming our lungs out for our favorite sport’s team. We have pushed for the legalization of marijuana, while creating more and more craft breweries and distilleries, helping us escape into substances. Millennials drink more wine than any other generation, downing half of all wine consumed each year. Washingtonians have spent $637,295,296 in three years on marijuana. We long for distractions from our jobs and responsibilities, turning to anything we can to numb the monotony. It seems that we are dying for an escape from reality, hoping to find meaning somewhere, somehow.