Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is the Olympic National Park Going to be your Summer Fling?

Entry to Dosewallips

Cape Flattery

With summer just around the corner, there is a huge park in the Northwestern part of America, specifically, the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, just waiting for you to visit it. Yes, I know, Yellowstone is also waiting, tempting you,  with its hot geothermal features and wildlife. I see that Moab is also flirting with you, trying to get your attention with its smooth sandstone, hot summer days and clear night skies. Yosemite is also on the line, with its California accent trying to entice you with its history, rocks and waterfalls. The Grand Canyon is vying for your attention, flirting at you with rafting trips, sweeping vistas and uniqueness. They are all vying for your attention, your affection, your love and desire, but up here in the northwest, we are playing it coy and are being a little shy.

Storm King
Devil's Punchbowl, Lake Crescent
You see, the Olympic Peninsula is unique,esoteric and still surrounded with mystery. It is isolated and isn’t romantic in society yet. The Olympic National Park is a bit scared to have so many visitors hiking it trails, camp in its campgrounds, climb its peaks, explore its waterfalls and enjoy the diversity that it offers. The Olympic National Park is the park next door, the location often over looked because you are used to it, or maybe you just haven’t seen it in the right setting. This summer, the Olympic National Park wants you to visit, get to know it, and hopefully fall in love.

Moss, Fungi and Ferns

The Rainforest
You may be asking yourself, “What does the Olympic National Park have to offer that we can’t get from one of those other parks?” We know what the other parks are working with, as they strut their goods on National TV with endless documentaries dedicated to how great they are and how everyone needs to experience them. The Olympic National Park has been around long enough to know how to show off its assets. From stunning beaches where you can camp, beachcomb, watch sea life and experience beautiful sunsets, to its peaks jutting up in the air, rising from rainforest canopies dense with moss and large Jurassic Park looking ferns this park will keep your enchanted with it.

Marymere Falls
Tide pool at Ruby Beach
 With so many animal species, so much to see, so much uniqueness, and so much to be in awe about, this park is the park you can grow old with and/or come back to, summer after summer. Remember the first time you saw the view at Hurricane Ridge, the rocks at Shi Shi beach, and the Hall of Mosses at the Hoh Rainforest. Maybe years from now, you will flash back to the first time you saw Mt. Olympus, or stayed the night at the Chalet in the Enchanted Valley. Maybe these will be the memories you share with your grandkids, years from now, reminiscing about the uncharted depths of Lake Crescent or glissading down Mt. Ellinor with Exotic Hikes. The Olympic Park wants you to fall in love, wants your visits and wants you to know, that no matter how crowded it gets in years to come, you will always have a special place in its heart.  
Pony Bridge on the way to Enchanted Valley

The Hoh Rainforest
Yellowstone, Yosemite, Moab and the Grand Canyon won’t remember you when you are gone. To them, you are just another number, another visitor and another notch on their entry gate. I love the Olympic National Park, and it loves me back, as I am sure it will love you. It is true, pure and consistent. It may be rugged at times, hard to get to know in places, but once you are lucky enough to experience the Olympic National Park, it will be the love of your life. 

Douglas Scott
Exotic Hikes

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why come to the Olympic Peninsula??

Marymere Falls
Recently, far away from any large city, deep in a moss filled forest that is more reminiscent of Jurassic Park than of a typical national park, a question I was once asked popped back into my head. The question, asked by a good friend and well respected business person, was “what makes the Olympic Peninsula so special” to you. In fact, he went on to ask why anyone should visit this place when amazing areas such as the Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Yosemite National Parks are so much more developed and accessible.  At the time, I really didn’t have an answer. I love the area; I consider it my home and think that everyone should come to the Olympic Peninsula. Here are     just a few reasons…

Devil's Punchbowl, Lake Crescent
Hoh Rain Forest
The Olympic Peninsula is not only one of the most diverse areas in the United States, it is also one of the youngest developed. The Olympic Peninsula, in some ways, is like how the Yosemite Valley was in the 1920s. Sure, we have roads, the timber industry and all that, but we also have pristine, untouched wilderness, rugged views and nature that feels natural. Comparing Yosemite to the Olympic Peninsula may seem absurd, but that is just what I am going to do. In the early 1900’s, tourists flocked from the East Coast to go to Yosemite to see the wilderness of the west. Much of the east had been developed, and Yosemite offered amazing views, rivers, waterfalls and mountains to climb. It was a place of wonder and excitement, a place to reconnect with nature. Now, Yosemite is overcrowded. It is still beautiful, but when everyone comes to the same place to connect with nature, it tends to lose the natural feeling. The Olympics offer what Yosemite has and more. From hundreds of mountains to climb, to waterfalls around every corner of trails, The Olympics rival Yosemite for natural beauty, and beat it for crowds and truly have a unique vacation. With just under 3 million people in the park last year, the Olympic National Park seems nearly empty to all of us who frequent it, yet, this number of tourists is consistent and you are rarely alone unless you want to be.

Neah Bay
Ruby Beach
The Olympic Peninsula has all the amenities one would want, from fantastic, scenic hotels, to the latest in culinary arts. The proximity to Seattle Tacoma International Airport makes it easy and affordable to get to, unlike Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons. We also have many places to stay at all levels of price, rarely selling out. Numerous times I have been forced to drive to Yellowstone straight through, or car camp because of large amounts of tourists in the area. This has never happened to my family or I in the Olympics.

Sunrise from the Olympics
Mt. Olympus
From Hurricane Ridge
As far as mountains on the Olympic Peninsula, well don’t get me started! With well over 200 mountains in the area and 89 peaks between 6500ft and the tallest point, Mt. Olympus, stands at 7,969ft; the Olympic Peninsula is a mountain climber’s playground. In fact, says that “For their height, the Olympic Mountains are quite possibly the most spectacular mountains in the world outside of the polar regions. Nowhere do the Olympics crack the 8000 foot barrier, making them of almost Appalachian stature, but their incredible array of jagged peaks, massive glaciers, and epic approach marches is only matched in one or two other ranges in the entire "Lower 48" United States.” Many of these are visible and accessible after just a 17 mile car trip to Hurricane Ridge from Port Angeles!

Roosevelt Elk
Danger: Mountain Goat
Let’s say you want to see animals. The Olympic Peninsula may not be as animal friendly as Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Tetons, but we have quite a bit going for us!   Just a s a brief summary, on the Olympic Peninsula there are many species of Fish, Birds, Amphibians,Reptiles, Marine Mammals and Terrestrial Mammals. From the unique OlympicMarmot, the Roosevelt Elk in which the park was created to the many species of Salmon and the awesome, yet phallic Geoducks and Banana Slugs, as well as Whales, Porpoises and Otters, the Olympic Peninsula is full of unique and amazing wildlife.

Mt. Ellinor
Friendly Deer
The Olympic Peninsula is one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. With stunning views of the ocean, the rain forest, numerous species of flora and fauna, as well as some of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states, the Olympic Peninsula will leave you and your family with memories to last a lifetime. The Olympic Peninsula has something for everyone. Instead of going someplace with everyone, come and experience the Olympic Peninsula with Exotic Hikes. 

Until I see you on the trails,
Douglas Scott
Exotic Hikes