Olympic National Park Travel Guide

USA  #3 in Best Cheap Vacations in the U.S.
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Olympic National Park Area Map

Neighborhoods

Considering the park is almost 1 million acres in size, it's no surprise there are many safety considerations for travelers to keep in mind, from weather-related issues to wildlife. As in any natural setting, never approach, startle or feed any wild animal you encounter. Observe wildlife from a distance and at Olympic, that means at least 50 yards away, according to park regulations. Make sure you also have food contained properly.

Animals in Olympic National Park include mountain goats, some of which have become accustomed to people and can get aggressive. If a goat approaches you, the park advises you slowly move away. If it's not deterred by your retreat, chase it off by yelling, waving your arms or clothing, or throwing rocks. Bears are another species you could encounter. The park reports that there have been instances of aggressive bears, but only property was damaged, no people were injured. If you do encounter a bear on the trail, the park says to give it a wide berth and if it comes into your camp, make noise to scare it away. Never get between a female bear and her cub. Cougars, or mountain lions, also live in the park, but it's extremely rare to encounter one. More mundane nuisances include black flies, deer flies, horse flies, mosquitoes and yellow jackets, so wearing insect repellent, long-sleeved shirts and long pants are a good idea.

Many popular points along the coast are only accessible at low tide, so it's important to always carry a tide chart, available at visitor centers and coastal ranger stations. You don't want to get trapped by a rising tide since it can cause hazardous hiking conditions. The National Park Service suggests carrying a tide table, topographic map and a watch whenever you're hiking along the coast. Visit the NPS website for links to tide predictions and topographic maps.

Avalanches are another threat from Mother Nature. The terrain and the weather in the Olympic Mountains can create perfect conditions for avalanches. Since the risk of avalanche can vary daily or even hourly, the park suggests checking in at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center or Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center for current conditions if you are planning to go to Hurricane Ridge or elsewhere in the high-country of the Olympics.

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