The Pacific Northwest is a place of breathtaking beauty. With seemingly endless greenery and crisp, clean air, getting outdoors and enjoying nature might as well be a requirement for anyone visiting the area.
In Olympic National Park, located in the northwest corner of the state of Washington, exploring the great outdoors is easy. Whether your family enjoys hiking, fishing, camping or just going for a scenic drive in the car, the park has something for everyone.
The park, which covers more than 1,400 square miles, is home to several ecosystems. During your visit you can experience everything from wild ocean and rugged mountains to tranquil lakes and serene rainforests.
Olympic National Park is well-designed with some great programs to make sure kids of all ages enjoy their visits. The Junior Ranger Program is a great way to get kids excited about nature and man’s role in protecting it. Program booklets are available at the visitors center and come with a list of tasks for little ones to complete to start them on their way to enjoying, understanding and being responsible for the beauty of nature.
Tidepooling in the park is a great activity for families of all ages. There are several beaches along the coastline ideal for viewing the wondrous creatures of the Pacific Ocean during low tide. The park offers ranger-led programs that can provide valuable information about the creatures and their natural habitat or you can go exploring on your own. Mora’s Hole in the Wall, at the end of Hole in the Wall Trail just north of the popular La Push Beach, is one of the best places in the park for tidepooling.
Stargazing is another family-favorite activity at Olympic. The majority of the park is a designated wilderness area that restricts the presence of unnatural light. This makes for ideal stargazing conditions, especially during the summer months when the weather is at its most cooperative. During those warm months the park sponsors free programs to gaze at the impressive array of stars, constellations and planets that are easily visible. Telescopes are provided by the park and a ranger helps you identify what you are seeing.
Stop in at the park’s main visitor center so the little ones can have some fun with the activities in the Discovery Room. There you will find interactive displays that will orient kids to the park’s wildlife and vegetation, as well as the local culture and history, preparing them for what they will encounter during their stay.
There are plenty of fun activities available throughout the park that will guarantee your teens have as much fun as the little ones. Depending on the season there are great opportunities for kayaking, mountain biking, snowboarding and surfing. There is also a great volunteer program that allows them to give back by lending a helping hand during their stay with activities like a coastal cleanup.
Entrance fees are $30 per car and guarantee access for seven days. Camping permits require an additional fee, depending on the campsite, as does back-country camping and the use of the park’s RV dump stations. The park is open year-round and offers a different experience each season, however Mother Nature’s whims can create road closures in inclement weather.
Traveling with the whole crew, solo or with your partner can really shake up your routine. Whether you’re an early morning runner, late afternoon city explorer or looking for any excuse to get to the park and tire out the rambunctious kids on your next family trip, wouldn’t it all be so much more fun if you had a rescue dog along?
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