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Olympic National Park

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Olympic National Park was created in 1938 by enlarging a national monument on the Olympic Peninsula of western Washington, established in 1909. The park preserves a large portion of the virgin rain forest of the Olympic Mountains, as well as an 80-km (50-mi) strip of forested Pacific coast, a total area of 373,384 ha (922,651 acres). Precipitation rates there are among the highest in the United States, averaging 3,600 mm (142 in) per year in the western valleys, where dense forests of giant Sitka spruce and luxuriant growths of ferns and moss are found at lower elevations, and forests of Douglas fir, hemlock, cedar, spruce, and pine at the higher. Some 60 active glaciers lie scattered among the snowy summits. Among the largest of these is the Blue Glacier, 5 km (3 mi) in length, which descends the northern slope of Mount Olympus (2,424 m/7,954 ft), the tallest peak of the Olympic Range. The mountain slopes and forests are home to elk, deer, black bear, mountain lions, and mountain goats, while the ocean beaches and offshore rocks provide rookeries for seals and sea lions and nesting grounds for numerous shorebirds. The area was designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1976 and a World Heritage Site in 1981.

Bibliography: Kirk, Ruth, and Franklin, J. N., The Olympic Rain Forest (1992); Lyman, R. Lee, White Goats, White Lies: The Misuse of Science in Olympic National Park (1998).

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  • Subjects:
    Forests and Rainforests, Geography and Map Skills, United States
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