Olympic National Park
The park is located on the Olympic Peninsula to the west of Seattle, in the northwest part of the US State of Washington.
The gross area is 922,651 acres (373,384 hectares). It consists of rugged coastline, rain forests, wilderness, glaciers, and mountains.
When the continental glaciers finally retreated, rounded hills and marshy meadows – but no dense forests – remained.
There is archaeological evidence that the area was populated by a people who were hunters and gatherers as long as 12,000 years ago.
Eventually, the terrain became rugged and tree-covered. The forests provided food, fibers, medicine, and shelter.
In 1774, the first well-documented discovery of the peninsula’s coast was by the Spanish explorer Juan Perez Hernandez.
In 1788, an Englishman, Captain John Meares, named Mount Olympus.
In 1885, Lieutenant Joseph O’Neil made the first documented exploration of the northern Olympic Mountains
This was followed in 1889-1890 by a expedition known as the Press Party crossing the mountains. Some settlements were made; but, for the most part, they were not very successful.
After the arrival of the Europeans in the late 18th century, the lives of the native people changed dramatically
Their land, their sources of food, and their forests were lost to the newcomers.
Eight tribes are trying to keep their culture alive in the peninsula. They are as follows: Hoh, Jamestown S’Kallam, Elwha Klallam, Makah, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Quileute, Quinault, and Skokomish.
In 1974, a court decision upheld tribal fishing rights retained in an 1855 treaty.
The rocks of the peninsula are continually being thrust faulting and folding. However, the water from the mountains erodes them at about the same rate as they are being thrust up.
Thus, the mountains are really not increasing in height. Igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks, and exotic rocks (erratics) are a part of the rock composition.
In 1897, President Grover Cleveland designated much of the Peninsula as the Olympic Forest Reserve.
In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt designated part of the reserve as Mount Olympus National Monument.
In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an act which established Olympic National Park.
In 1976, UNESCO designed the park as part of an international system of Biosphere Reserves.
In 1981, UNESCO designated the park as a World Heritage Site.
See maps of the park.
Some taxonomy lists are not included here as they are currently not available on the park’s website or in pamphlet form.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)