Top Ten Parks for Spring

  |  Gorp.com

Olympic National Park

Only-in-springtime view: Hawks migrating north through Neah Bay
Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, paddling, climbing, camping

The Olympic peninsula is a chunk of land colliding with the main North American continent. North America doesn't want to give, so the Olympic Mountains keep getting pushed higher and higher. And for a long time the peninsula was biologically isolated by glaciers, allowing distinctive animal and plant species to evolve.

As a consequence, Olympic National Park takes the prize for the greatest topographical diversity, if not biological diversity, of our top ten parks. There's something to the clichi that this is three parks in one: the wilderness coast (the longest in the lower 48), the low-level temperate rain forest, and the exalted heights of the Olympic Mountains. In winter and spring, these peaks stop the incoming clouds, causing day after day of rain on the rainy side of the mountains.

So, spring is the time to explore the other side of the mountains, the"rain shadow." The area around Duckabush and Sequim can seem almost Mediterranean. In fact, lavender is an important crop around Sequim. But we know you won't want to be hanging around soap shops. Go for a hike in the Hood Canal Area for some dry(er) springtime tramping. GORP reader Nick Maddox reports that "Grand Valley is the best place I've found to go in years!"

All over the park, anglers will find some excellent rivers. And Olympic National Park has amazing wildlife, a surprise around every turn in the path.

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