Olympic National Park is a 632,000-acre park in the northwest corner of Washington. According to the park's website, it is known for its diversity of ecosystems and its immense natural beauty. Learning about the park provides an excellent opportunity for you to instill an appreciation and a respect for nature in your child.
The land that was to become Olympic National Park had its first settlers in the 16th century. These inhabitants were hunters and gatherers, and their lives were relatively peaceful until the 19th century, when European explorers brought disease, resource competition, and disruption to the customs of the native population. By the turn of the century, many people feared the land was being depleted being repair. According to the National Parks Conservation Association website, President Grover Cleveland, in 1897, designated the forests of the peninsula on which the park sits as the Olympic Forest Reserve. In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt passed legislation designating the land as a national park, and in 1981, it received the honor of becoming a World Heritage site, according to the Olympic National Parks website.
Geological Facts: How the Park Formed
The rock that makes up the Olympic Park developed underwater, according to an article at NationalGeographic.com. Underwater lava vents produced basalt, an igneous rock produced from cooled magma. Thirty million years ago, the Pacific Ocean floor plate clashed with the one on which the continent of North America sits today. The heavier plate slid under the lighter one, causing the upper seabed layers to jam against the coastline, forming the Olympic Mountains. The icy glaciers and streams of water carved the profiles of the mountains you see today.
Olympic National Park has a diverse population of animals. According to the park's website, this includes the spotted owl, an endangered species, and the bald eagle. It is also home to the marbled murrelet, which is a type of plump seabird, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Also, you'll find fish such as the bull trout and the chinook salmon in the park's vast waters. If you visit the park, you might also notice several bugs, slugs, and salamanders crawling around.
Things to Do
Many opportunities exist in Olympic National Park for your children to learn lessons from this famous tourist attraction in the appreciation of nature. No matter what the season is, there's always an activity in which they can participate. In the spring, you can take your family birdwatching. In the fall, listen for the sound of the bugling elk on one of the park's river valleys, such as the Hoh, the Queets, the Quinault or the Bogachiel. In the winter, go snowshoeing at Hurricane Ridge. The park is open Wednesdays through Sundays year-round.
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