Nature’s Champion Olympic National Park, National Geographic: Winter Mountain Wilderness

Bird's eye view looking down on white, snowy mountains with light clouds.

Rising nearly 8,000 feet, Mount Olympus (top center) and its sister peaks in Olympic National Park govern weather.

When sodden ocean air blows in, the mountains force it to high elevations where it cools, releasing moisture, resulting in up to 200 inches of precipitation annually. The high peaks can receive 125 feet of snow.

The Olympics are some of the youngest mountains on earth—thrust up from the sea only 35 million years ago, and they are still rising. Seven glaciers formed around 2,500 years ago that continue to shape Mt. Olympus. Olympic is one of the wildest places remaining in the contiguous U.S. and is protected by the Wilderness Act of 1964.

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