US 101 provides the main access to the park, with numerous spur roads leading to the interior. No roads pass through the heart of the Olympic. Rain forests can be seen along the Hoh, Queets, and Quinault Rivers. Hurricane Ridge, accessible via a paved road, offers motorists an opportunity to look into a superb part of the Olympic wilderness. The coast area can be reached directly from US 101 at Kalaloch and from spur roads to the mouth of the Hoh, to La Push, and to Rialto Beach.
Olympic is a wilderness park, with much of its interior accessible only by trail. A variety of spur roads lead to various destinations around the park. Scenic drives to Hurricane Ridge, along the Pacific Coast and through the forested valleys of the Sol Duc, Hoh and Quinault Rivers provide glimpses of Olympic's diversity.
The best way to see the park, however, is by getting out of your car. Short (one-quarter
to one-half mile) nature trails are located at Hurricane Ridge (spring through fall
only), Elwha, Sol Duc, the Hoh Rain Forest and Quinault. Some of these are wheelchair
accessible. Longer trails provide access to other areas of the park, including the
park's wilderness beaches and rugged mountainous interior. Click on the Hiking Page
for a few day hikes.
Boulder Creek from the gate at the trailhead to the Boulder Creek camping area is open to the use of bicycles.
Spruce Railroad Trail along Lake Crescent is a designated bike trail.
Ski and snowshoe rentals, ski tow, and ski instructions are all offered at Hurricane Ridge.
Olympic Hot Springs
The Olympic Hot Springs consists of 21 seeps located in a bank on Boulder Creek, a tributary of the Elwha River. Several of these have been trapped by human-made rock lined depressions. The depth of these pools is about one foot and water temperatures vary from lukewarm to 138 degrees F (54 degrees C). A resort existed in the area until 1966, when the lease expired. Heavy winter snows caused many of the old buildings to collapse. They were removed, but the seeps remain. The impounded pools frequently fail water quality standards for public bathing. Use at your own risk.
Sol Duc Hot Springs
The Quileute name for the hot springs is si'bi', stinky place. In the 1880's, Theodore Moritz nursed a native with a broken leg back to health. In gratitude, the Indian told Moritz of the "firechuck" or magic waters. Moritz staked a claim, built cedar-log tubs and soon people were coming great distances to drink and bathe in the healing water. Michael Earles, owner of the Puget Sound Mills and Timber Company claimed he was cured of a fatal illness after visiting Sol Duc. When Moritz died in 1909, Earles bought the land from his heirs and built a $75,000 road to the springs from Lake Crescent. Three years later, on 15 May 1912, an elegant hotel opened.
The grounds were immaculate - landscaping, golf links, tennis courts, croquet grounds, bowling alleys, theater, and card rooms. A three story building between the bathhouse and hotel held the sanatorium. With beds for one hundred patients, a laboratory, and x-ray it was considered one of the finest in the west.
Four years later, in 1916, sparks from a defective flue ignited the shingle roof of the hotel. The water had not yet been turned on as it was early in the season. Wires were short circuited on the organ and Beethoven's "Funeral" march began to play as the hotel was consumed in flames in just three hours.
The Sol Duc Resort of today may be more modest than the one that existed sixty years ago, but people enjoy the "hot tears" of the Sol Duc dragon. The resort is open from late spring through early fall and offers cabins (some cooking cabins), a dining room, gift shop, a swimming pool, three mineral water pools, therapeutic massage, snackbar, and RV sites.
An 82 unit National Park campground lies on the bank of the Sol Duc River.
Record Trees in Olympic National Park
The record size of trees of the following species have been found in the Olympic National Park. The trees are recognized by the American Forestry Association as the largest living specimens of the species in their list of approximately 750 National Champions. The following list gives the size and location of Olympic's record trees:
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