Green Gem: Olympic National Park

by Emily on June 1, 2011

We just spent the weekend camping in Olympic National Park and most specifically in the part that is considered the temperate rain forest.  You might be thinking, why on earth would you want to camp in a rain forest…luckily it didn’t rain but just for a brief time one night!  One of my favorite things about this location is the lush green you see everywhere.

Located on the Olympic peninsula on the western coast of Washington state, Olympic National Park hosts many different eco-systems from snow capped mountains to the misty coastline.  And what falls in between is the spectacular coastal rain forest.  The National Park Service website is filled with loads of really helpful information and has helped me to learn how unique this area really is:

These rain forests once stretched from southern Oregon to southeast Alaska, but little remains outside of protected areas. Other temperate rain forests grow in a few isolated spots around the world including Chile, New Zealand and southern Australia.

How does a rain forest like this exist?  A few items are necessary:  lots of rain, moderate temperatures year-round, various moss, ferns and lichens grow on anything they can, a huge forest of really big trees (100-250 ft tall & 30-60 feet in circumference), then you throw in the dead logs that line the ground and are quickly covered in new lush green vegetation and you’ve got your rain forest!

Small waterfall from creek running off of the Sol Duc River.

Trilium flowers are blooming all over the ground this time of year.

New fern growth are unraveling on the forest ground as well.

The Olympic National Park is really a special place to visit and I would highly encourage it.  There is so much new growth this time of year that a short hike will open your eyes to various species just waking from a cold winter.  As spring/summer has been slow to start here in Washington, it was certainly a treat to see all the green begin to unravel in the campground and along the hiking trails.  A must see green gem if you’re in Washington!

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