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).