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Destinations, Geography, History, Mountains

Olympic Mountains

Olympic National Park

Image by Travis S. via Flickr

The Olympic Mountains is a mountain range on the Olympic Peninsula of westernWashington in the United States. The mountains, part of the Pacific Coast Ranges, are not especially high – Mount Olympus is the highest at 7,962 ft (2,427 m) – but the western slopes of the Olympics rise directly out of the Pacific Ocean and are the wettest place in the 48 contiguous states. On the wetter end of the spectrum, 140 and 170 inches (3,600 and 4,300 mm) of rain falls on the Hoh Rainforest annually.Conversely, areas to the northeast of the mountains are located in a rain shadow and receive as little as 16 in (410 mm) of precipitation.Most of the mountains are protected within the bounds of the Olympic National Park.

The mountains were originally called “Sun-a-do” by the Duwamish Indians, while the first European to see them, the Spanish navigator Juan Perez, named them “Sierra Nevada de Santa Rosalia”, in 1774. But the English captain John Meares, seeing them in 1788, thought them beautiful enough for the gods to dwell there, and named them “Mount Olympus” after the one in Greece

Physiographically, they are a section of the larger Pacific Border province, which is in turn a part of the larger Pacific Mountain System.

The Mount Olympus National Monument was proclaimed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1909, and made into a park in 1938.

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