Winter in the National Parks: Olympic

Cold enthusiasts rejoice, the national parks are open all season

Olympic National Park.     Photo: John Pierce/Shutterstock

Entrance Fee

$15 per vehicle, $5 per biker/hiker

FOUNDED: 1938
SIZE: 922,000 acres

Olympic preserves one of the most climatologically diverse regions in the U.S. The park supports 11 separate river systems and the old growth forests in this area produce three times the biomass of the Amazon Rainforest.

HOW TO GET THERE
The easiest way to get there is to fly into Seattle International Airport and connect to the airport at Port Angeles, which is right outside the park. But the drive from Seattle isn’t bad. With stunning views of mountains and bays on the way, this 2.5-hour drive will fly by. You can also take a ferry from Seattle to Port Angeles.

WHERE TO STAY
While some of the park’s facilities close for the winter, there’s plenty of camping available. And, if you’re not trying to rough it, you can stay at wonderful Kalaloch Lodge or the quaint Roosevelt Cottages.

WHAT TO DO
Olympic has three distinct ecosystems: coastal forest, temperate rainforest, and alpine glaciers. Because of the diversity of ecosystems, you can plan several adventures at once while you’re there. Hiking and mountain biking are still possible at lower elevations, but it’s best to bring heavy cold weather gear and possibly snowshoes. On the weekends, Hurricane Ridge is open for skiing, but be sure to check the park's Twitter feed for information before you go. Fishing is allowed, but there are extensive regulations because the park is in the process of rehabilitating some of its rivers.

THINGS TO REMEMBER
⇢ Tire chains are required at the park during the winter due to snow and mud.
⇢ Olympic Hot Springs Road is closed due to dam removal.
⇢ You are right next to the coast; consider a whale watching tour while you’re there.

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