Olympic Peninsula

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Satellite image of Olympic Peninsula Olympic Peninsula with Puget Sound by Sentinel-2, 2018-09-28 (small version).jpg
Satellite image of Olympic Peninsula
The peninsula and Olympic National Park Image OlympicPeninsulaMap.jpg
The peninsula and Olympic National Park
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary OlympicCoastNationalMarineSanctuary.jpg
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
Queets River Queets river.jpg
Queets River
Mount Olympus Mount Olympus Washington.jpg
Mount Olympus

The Olympic Peninsula is a large arm of land in western Washington that lies across Puget Sound from Seattle, and contains Olympic National Park. It is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the east by Hood Canal. Cape Alava, the westernmost point in the contiguous United States, and Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point, are on the peninsula. Comprising about 3,600 square miles (9,300 km2), the Olympic Peninsula contained many of the last unexplored places in the contiguous United States. It remained largely unmapped until Arthur Dodwell and Theodore Rixon mapped most of its topography and timber resources between 1898 and 1900. [1]



Clallam and Jefferson Counties, as well as the northern parts of Grays Harbor and Mason Counties, are on the peninsula. The Kitsap Peninsula, bounded by the Hood Canal and Puget Sound, is an entirely separate peninsula and is not connected to the Olympic Peninsula.

From Olympia, the state capital, U.S. Route 101 runs along the Olympic Peninsula's eastern, northern, and western shorelines.

The Olympic mountain range sits in the center of the Olympic Peninsula. This range is the second largest in Washington State. Its highest peak is Mt. Olympus.

A major effort called the Wild Olympics campaign is under way to protect additional wilderness areas on the Olympic Peninsula, protect salmon streams under the Wild and Scenic River Act and provide a means for Olympic National Park to offer to buy land adjacent to the Park from willing sellers.


Koppen climate types of the Olympic Peninsula Olympic and Kitsap Peninsula Koppen.png
Köppen climate types of the Olympic Peninsula

Most of the peninsula has an oceanic climate, or Cfb under the Köppen climate classification. Most populated areas, however, have a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, or Csb.

The Olympic Peninsula is home to temperate rain forests, including the Hoh, Queets Rain Forest, and Quinault. Rain forest vegetation is concentrated primarily in the western part of the peninsula, as the interior mountains create a rain shadow effect in areas to the northeast, resulting in a much drier climate in those locales.


Major salmon-bearing rivers on the Olympic Peninsula include, clockwise from the southwest, the Humptulips, the Quinault, the Queets, the Quillayute, Bogachiel, the Sol Duc, the Lyre, the Elwha (see Elwha Ecosystem Restoration), the Dungeness, the Dosewallips, the Hamma Hamma, the Skokomish, and the Wynoochee River.


Natural lakes on the peninsula include Lake Crescent, Lake Ozette, Lake Sutherland, Lake Quinault, and Lake Pleasant. Two dammed rivers form the reservoirs of Lake Cushman and Wynoochee Lake; two previous reservoirs, destroyed in the Elwha Ecosystem Restoration were Lake Aldwell (behind the former Elwha Dam) and Lake Mills (behind the former Glines Canyon Dam).


The peninsula contains many state and national parks, including Anderson Lake, Bogachiel, Dosewallips, Fort Flagler, Fort Worden, Lake Cushman, Mystery Bay, Old Fort Townsend, Potlatch, Sequim Bay, Shine Tidelands, and Triton Cove state parks; Olympic National Park; and the Olympic National Forest. Within the Olympic National Forest, there are five designated wilderness areas: The Brothers, Buckhorn, Colonel Bob, Mt. Skokomish, and Wonder Mountain. Just off the west coast is the Washington Islands Wilderness.


The Olympic Peninsula is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Democrat Derek Kilmer. It is represented in the Washington State Legislature by Democratic state senator Kevin Van De Wege and Democratic state representatives Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger.

Cities and towns in the Olympic Peninsula

Population of at least 10,000

Population of at least 5,000

Population of at least 1,000

Population of less than 1,000

Related Research Articles

Clallam County, Washington County in Washington, United States

Clallam County is a county in the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2020 census, the population was 77,155, with an estimated population of 77,750 in 2021. The county seat and largest city is Port Angeles; the county as a whole comprises the Port Angeles, WA Micropolitan Statistical Area. The name is a Klallam word for "the strong people". The county was formed on April 26, 1854. Located on the Olympic Peninsula, it is south from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which forms the Canada–US border, as British Columbia's Vancouver Island is across the strait.

Olympic National Park National park in Washington state, United States

Olympic National Park is a United States national park located in the State of Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula. The park has four regions: the Pacific coastline, alpine areas, the west-side temperate rainforest, and the forests of the drier east side. Within the park there are three distinct ecosystems, including subalpine forest and wildflower meadow, temperate forest, and the rugged Pacific coast.

Olympic Mountains Mountain range in Washington, United States

The Olympic Mountains are a mountain range on the Olympic Peninsula of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The mountains, part of the Pacific Coast Ranges, are not especially high – Mount Olympus is the highest at 7,965 ft (2,428 m); however, the eastern slopes rise out of Puget Sound from sea level and the western slopes are separated from the Pacific Ocean by the low-lying 20 to 35 km wide Pacific Ocean coastal plain. The western slopes are the wettest place in the 48 contiguous states. Most of the mountains are protected within the bounds of Olympic National Park and adjoining segments of the Olympic National Forest.

Quinault people Native American peoples

The Quinault are a group of Native American peoples from western Washington in the United States. They are a Southwestern Coast Salish people and are enrolled in the federally recognized Quinault Tribe of the Quinault Reservation.


Klallam refers to four related indigenous Native American/First Nations communities from the Pacific Northwest of North America. The Klallam culture is classified ethnographically and linguistically in the Coast Salish subgroup. Two Klallam bands live on the Olympic Peninsula and one on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington state, and one is based at Becher Bay on southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

The Hoh or Chalá·at are a Native American tribe in western Washington state in the United States. The tribe lives on the Pacific Coast of Washington on the Olympic Peninsula. The Hoh moved onto the Hoh Indian Reservation, 47°44′31″N124°25′17″W at the mouth of the Hoh River, on the Pacific Coast of Jefferson County, after the signing of the Quinault Treaty on July 1, 1855. The reservation has a land area of 1.929 square kilometres and a 2000 census resident population of 102 persons, 81 of whom were Native Americans. It lies about halfway between its nearest outside communities of Forks, to its north, and Queets, to its south. The river is central to their culture. The main resources they used included cedar trees, salmon, and the nearby vegetation. They also traded and bartered with other tribes closer to Eastern Washington, near the Plateaus and Great Plains.

Olympic National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in Washington, USA. With an area of 628,115 acres (2,541.89 km2), it nearly surrounds Olympic National Park and the Olympic Mountain range. Olympic National Forest contains parts of Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, and Mason counties. The landscape of the national forest varies, from the temperate Olympic rain forest to the salt water fjord of Hood Canal to the peaks of Mt. Washington.

Hoh River River in the United States

The Hoh River is a river of the Pacific Northwest, located on the Olympic Peninsula in the U.S. state of Washington. About 56 miles (90 km) long, the Hoh River originates at the Hoh Glacier on Mount Olympus and flows west through the Olympic Mountains of Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest, then through the foothills in a broad valley, emptying into the Pacific Ocean at the Hoh Indian Reservation. The final portion of the Hoh River's course marks the boundary between the coastal segment of Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest, the Hoh Indian Reservation.

Skokomish River

The Skokomish River is a river in Mason County, Washington, United States. It is the largest river flowing into Hood Canal, a western arm of Puget Sound. From its source at the confluence of the North and South Forks the main stem Skokomish River is approximately 9 miles (14 km) long. The longer South Fork Skokomish River is 40 miles (64 km), making the length of the whole river via its longest tributary about 49 miles (79 km). The North Fork Skokomish River is approximately 34 miles (55 km) long. A significant part of the Skokomish River's watershed is within Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park.

Chimakum Near-extinct ethnic group of Washington state, US

The Chimakum, also spelled Chemakum and Chimacum are a near extinct Native American people, who lived in the northeastern portion of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, between Hood Canal and Discovery Bay until their virtual extinction in 1902. Their primary settlements were on Port Townsend Bay, on the Quimper Peninsula, and Port Ludlow Bay to the south.

Kalaloch, Washington Unincorporated community in Washington, United States

Kalaloch is an unincorporated resort area entirely within Olympic National Park in western Jefferson County, Washington, United States. Kalaloch accommodations are on a 50-foot (15 m) bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, west of U.S. Route 101 on the Olympic Peninsula, north of the reservation of the Quinault Indian Nation.

Queets is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Grays Harbor and Jefferson counties, Washington, United States. The population was 174 at the 2010 census. The primary residents of the community are Native Americans of the Quinault Indian Nation.

U.S. Route 101 (US 101) is a United States Numbered Highway that runs along the West Coast from Los Angeles, California to Tumwater, Washington. Within the state of Washington, US 101 connects cities on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and encircles the Olympic Peninsula around the Olympic Mountains. It also serves as the main access for Olympic National Park, several state parks, and other scenic and recreational areas.

There are many diverse trails within Olympic National Park. These trails traverse many different biomes, allowing hikers to explore from the coast of the Pacific Ocean to the summit of Mount Olympus. The trails vary in length from less than a mile and a few minutes hike to many miles and multiple days. The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail traverses the park from east to west, and has approximately 135 miles within its borders. The trails are divided into five separate areas, Staircase/Dosewallips Trails, Hurricane/Elwha Trails, Quinault/ Queets Trails, Hoh/Bogachiel/Sol Duc Trails, and Coastal Routes.

The Elwha Snowfinger is a perennial snow field located near the Dodwell Rixon Pass, which is 1452m/4763 ft high and separates the watersheds of the Elwha and Queets rivers in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state in the United States. This snowfield is created by continuous winter and spring avalanches into the upper pass area. It is the source of the Elwha River.

Mount Skokomish Wilderness

Mount Skokomish Wilderness is a designated wilderness area in the southeast portion of Olympic National Forest on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington in the United States. The wilderness area comprises 13,291 acres (5,379 ha) administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

Sequim Bay State Park

Sequim Bay State Park is a public recreation area covering 92 acres (37 ha) on the Puget Sound side of the Olympic Peninsula in Clallam County, Washington. The state park sits within the Sequim rain shadow, has over 4,900 feet (1,500 m) of shoreline and offers picnicking, camping, hiking, boating, swimming, clam digging, crabbing, athletic fields, beachcombing, birdwatching, interpretive activities, and horseshoes.

Mount Meany

Mount Meany is a prominent 6,695-foot (2,041-metre) mountain summit located deep within Olympic National Park in Jefferson County of Washington state. With a good eye and clear weather, the top of the mountain can be seen from the visitor center at Hurricane Ridge. The nearest neighbor is Mount Noyes less than one mile to the south, and the nearest higher peak is Circe (6,847 ft) on Mount Olympus, 4.07 mi (6.55 km) to the northwest. There are scrambling routes on the east side, via Noyes-Meany col, and via the ridge from Mount Queets. Due to heavy winter snowfalls, Mount Meany supports several small glaciers on its north and east slopes, despite its modest elevation. Precipitation runoff from the mountain drains into the headwaters of both the Elwha and Queets Rivers.

Mount Lincoln (Washington)

Mount Lincoln is a 5,868-foot-elevation mountain summit located in the Olympic Mountains, in Mason County of Washington state. It is situated on the boundary shared by Daniel J. Evans Wilderness and Mount Skokomish Wilderness, as well as the shared common border of Olympic National Park with Olympic National Forest. Lincoln is the second-highest point on Sawtooth Ridge, and the nearest higher neighbor is Mount Cruiser, 1.1 mi (1.8 km) to the northeast. Lincoln has two sub-peaks: a North Peak (5,690 ft/1,734 m), and a Southwest Peak (5,486 ft/1,672 m). Flapjack Lakes lie immediately west below the north sub-peak. Topographic relief is significant as the summit rises over 5,100 feet (1,555 m) above the Staircase Ranger Station at Lake Cushman in approximately two miles. Precipitation runoff from the mountain drains into tributaries of the North Fork Skokomish River, and partly into Mildred Lakes, thence Hamma Hamma River.


  1. Majors, Harry M. (1975). Exploring Washington. Van Winkle Publishing Co. p. 71. ISBN   978-0-918664-00-6.

Coordinates: 47°47′54″N123°37′05″W / 47.79833°N 123.61806°W / 47.79833; -123.61806