Top 10 Wonderful Olympic National Forest Facts

If you like amazing landscapes and fascinating forests, then you need to head over to the utmost northwestern corner of the United States.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some interesting Olympic National Forest facts, one of the most remarkable pieces of nature in the country.

1. It’s located on the Olympic Peninsula

The Olympic National Forest is a U.S. National Forest, which means it’s a protected federal land area. It’s located on the Olympic Peninsula in the U.S. state of Washington in the northwest of the country.

The forest is located within the borders of the Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, and Mason counties. The huge Seattle metropolitan area is located just to the east of it as well.

The headquarters of the forest is located in Olympia, the capital of the state of Washington which is located to the southeast of the forest.

Olympic national forest facts
Part of the amazing forest / Pixabay

2. The forest is part of a U.S. National park

The Olympic National Forest is part of a larger area referred to as the Olympic National Park. This national park was established on June 29, 1938, even though it was designated as the “Mount Olympus National Monument” on March 2, 1909, by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The park covers a total area of 922,650 acres (3,733.8 square kilometers) and consists of 4 separate regions:

  • The Pacific coastline
  • Alpine areas
  • The west-side temperate rainforest
  • The forests of the drier east side
Olympic national park marmot pass
Olympic National Park / Maurice King /

3. The National Forest was established in the late 19th century

The forest pretty much encircles the national park and was the first area on the Olympic Peninsula to be designated by the government.

It was established as the “Olympic Forest Reserve” on February 22, 1897, and renamed the “Olympic National Forest” in 1907.

The entire area of the National Park was designated as an International UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1976 and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

Olympic National forest fun facts
Part of the amazing forest / Jason Pratt /

4. Almost 1/3 of the forest consists of old-growth

The National Forest covers a total area of 628,115 acres (2,541.89 square kilometers), which is just over 68% of the entire area of the Olympic National Park.

According to a study conducted in 1993, the old growth in the forest covers a total area of 266,800 acres (1,080 square kilometers). This means that over 42% of the forest has been able to grow without human interference for hundreds of years!

This obviously provides extremely rich biodiversity and some of the most pristine natural areas in the world.

Old growth forest Olympic
Old-growth forest / Rachel thecat /

5. The rainforest features some of the tallest trees in the world

One of the most fascinating areas in the forest is the “Quinault Rainforest.” This area is nicknamed the “Valley of the Rain Forest Giants,” mainly because it features some of the tallest trees in the world.

The giants consist of the Western Red Cedar, Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Alaskan Cedar, and Mountain Hemlock. The forest also contains 5 of the 10 tallest Douglas-firs, some of the tallest pine trees in the world.

This area doesn’t just contain the tallest trees in the world outside of California (in the Redwood National Park) and New Zealand, it’s also believed that it’s home to the most giant tree species in the smallest area in the world!

Douglas-firs in the Quinault Rainforest
Douglas-firs in the Quinault Rainforest / Wiki Commons

6. The forest consists of multiple wilderness areas

Because many parts of the forest have pretty much remained untouched from any human intervention, there are also a total of 5 distinct wilderness areas. These are true natural areas that are protected so there is little to no impact from human behavior.

These wilderness areas are:

  • The Brothers Wilderness – 16,337 acres (6,611 hectares) on the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula.
  • Buckhorn Wilderness – 44,319 acres (17,935 hectares) in the northeastern section.
  • Colonel Bob Wilderness – 11,855 acres (4,798 hectares) in the southwestern corner.
  • Mt. Skokomish Wilderness – 13,291 acres (5,379 hectares) in the southeastern corner.
  • Wonder Mountain Wilderness – 2,349 acres (951 hectares) in the central part.

There’s also an ongoing campaign referred to as “Wild Olympics” to further protect areas that can be considered as wilderness areas and which consist of old-growth forests.

Buckhorn Wilderness
Buckhorn Wilderness / Seth Cowdery /

7. It surrounds a famous mountain range

One of the most remarkable Olympic National Forest facts is that it pretty much completely encircles a famous mountain range in the state of Washington called the “Olympic Mountains.”

This is far from being the highest mountain range in the United States and is part of the Pacific Coast Ranges. The highest mountain in the range is called “Mount Olympus” (not to be confused with the world-famous mountain in Greece) and has a height of 7,962 feet (2,427 meters).

Regardless, the landscape and surroundings near this section of the forest look absolutely astounding!

Mount Olympic range
Olympic Mountains / Doug Kerr /

8. It’s bounded by an immense fjord to the east

An even more remarkable natural wonder in the area is a fjord referred to as the “Hood Canal,” even though it’s a 100% natural waterway that is part of the relatively small Salish Sea.

A fjord is a natural inlet that is dominated by cliffs on each side. The Hood Canal is relatively wide, though, with an average width of 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers).

This immense fjord has a total length of 50 miles (80 kilometers) and forms the natural eastern border of the forest and National Park.

Aerial view of Hood Canal in Washington
Hood Canal / Walter Siegmund /

9. The forest is home to a couple of wonderful lakes

Mountains, old-growth forests, and a magnificent fjord. Is it possible that there are even more natural wonders in this wonderful area?

Yes, there are several amazing lakes located within the borders of the Olympic National Forest! Some of these are:

  • Lake Cushman
  • Lake Crescent
  • Lake Quinault

These lakes are located in areas with some of the most fascinating scenic landscapes in the forest!

Aerial view of Lake Quinault
Lake Quinault and Quinault River / Wiki Commons

10. The forest is truly a hiker’s paradise

The Olympic National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. It welcomes well over 3 million yearly visitors who want to enjoy this magnificent region.

One of the most fascinating Olympic National Forest facts is that several roads are leading up to the park, but none of them really go deep into the interior of it. There are, however, countless scenic hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the wilderness.

And yes, these hiking trails offer some of the most astounding views imaginable!

olympic national forest hiking
Amazing views of the hiking trails / Pixabay