The Himalayas are shrouded with mystique. The gateway to Shangri-La and the roof top of the world is known for diverse plant life, wildlife and natural features. These bring millions of tourists to Kathmandu to experience the Himalayas, and everyone wants to experience the raw and awesome power of nature that they can offer. While the Himalayas are beautiful, awe-inspiring and breath-taking, one can find a place in America that is almost as diverse and able to serve as a place for a spiritual journey to connect with nature.
Nestled in the northern most point in the continental United States, tucked away deep within a National Park, the Olympic Mountain range juts out from the rainforest canopy. Just a few hours’ drive or ferry ride from the emerald city of Seattle, a local Shangri-La exists. While few of the Seattleites make this pilgrimage, millions of visitors each year come to the Olympic National Park. As the 7th most popular National Park in America, the Olympics need to be seen. If you take the time or have the passion for exploration, a journey deep into the heart of the Olympic Mountains will change your life.
With hundreds of peaks about 5000ft and over 89 peaks over 6500ft (with over a 400ft of cleared prominence) climbers have a wide variety of skills sets to master in order to experience them all. Like the Himalayas, the Olympic Mountains offer little as far as infrastructure inside the National Park. Much of the trekking in both locations is done up old animal trails and through weather beaten landslide and avalanche prone areas.
In both the Olympic Mountains and the Himalayas, weather can change quickly and it can be weeks before you can be warm or dry. Bugs, flooding and natural disasters can also all ruin what would normally be a good trip. While the Himalayas are world renowned, the Olympic Mountains serve as a miniature version of them, allowing for exploration, isolation and developing a deeper connection to nature while you are at either place.
To best appreciate the vastness of the Olympic Mountains, one needs to journey to the Port Angeles, or as I call it, the Kathmandu of the Olympic Peninsula. Port Angeles is located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and short ferry ride from Victoria British Columbia, Canada. With almost 20,000 people, this small town acts as a Port of Entry to the United States, to the Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic National Park. Port Angeles is the headquarters for the Olympic National Park, which was created in 1938. Sitting at Sea Level, the city has a few rolling hills, but a 17 mile road leads to you the ultimate view of the Pacific Northwest’s Shangri-La.
FUN FACT: Port Angeles is the birthplace of Quarterback John Elway.
Don’t Want to Hike for miles for a view? Check out Hurricane Ridge!
Hurricane Ridge stands at over 5,000 feet above sea-level, which is 600 feet higher than Kathmandu! Huge sweeping valleys dive deep along gorges of old growth forests, only to jut back up into the heavens with yet another ridge of mountain peaks. With a new lodge, miles of trails, and opportunities for Winter Skiing, Hurricane Ridge offers the entire family a great wealth of activities to do. Visitors of all ages enjoy standing taking in the impressive vistas of the interior of the Olympic National Park. From the lodge, one can see miles in every direction, resting their eyes on peaks that otherwise may be hidden from view. The Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge allows the imagination to take over, giving the viewer the full force and greatness of nature.
Hurricane Ridge provides tourists with a vantage point to see what lies deep within the temperate rainforest. With views of Mt. Olympus, and numerous other peaks, Hurricane Ridge is the place to go to be inspired to explore the green, alpine jungles of the Pacific Northwest. With miles of snowshoe and cross-country ski trails in the winter, and days of summertime hiking on ridge-lines trails with sweeping vistas, blooming wildflowers and an abundance of wildlife, the Hurricane Ridge area in the Olympic National Park is the rooftop to the Pacific Northwest.
Visit today and remember that we need to fully fund our parks to ensure they are open for our Benefit and Enjoyment.
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