Rushing rivers There’s nothing more powerful than the roar of a river as it turbulently rushes by. Linking ocean and land, rivers and streams provide a highway for fish and other wildlife to move both up and downstream. Multiple rivers radiate from the park’s highest peak, Mount Olympus. For those seeking adventure or those seeking to silence the cacophony of the city, Olympic National Park has myriad rivers that will bring you back to nature. The Elwha River is a popular waterway on the Olympic Peninsula thanks in part to the recent removal of two dams. The Elwha River Restoration is a National Park Service project that began in mid-September 2011. The project, the largest dam-removal project in history, entailed tearing down the 108-foot Elwha Dam and the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam and restoring the Elwha River watershed. The removal of both dams was completed in August 2014. The ongoing restoration work has allowed the Elwha River to flow through its native channel for the first time in more than 100 years and allowed salmon to migrate upstream to spawn in the nutrient-rich habitat. The mighty Elwha River can be seen from several vantage points in Port Angeles, including: • Elwha River Bridge: Cross the Elwha River bridge to get a gorgeous view of the rushing river. Drive down Crown Z Water Road to a parking area to get up close and personal with the river. Here, you can connect to the Olympic Discovery Trail, too. Elwha River Road/Crown Z Water Road. • Elwha River Viewpoint: Observe the changing landscape where the Elwha River flows through the site of the former Lake Aldwell reservoir. West U.S. Highway 101. • Elwha Valley: The Elwha Valley area is closed to vehicle traffic beyond the Madison Falls parking lot at the park boundary due to extensive flood damage/road washout. Use caution when exploring on foot. Olympic Hot Springs Road. • Place Road access point: Off state Highway 112, follow Place Road to the end, where you’ll be able to walk out and see where the mouth of the Elwha is changing. As this access point is located in a residential neighborhood, please respect private property. Place Road. The Sol Duc River serves as a key highway for coho salmon, running through the valley and ascending toward the lakes and headwaters in the mountains. Chinook and coho salmon ascend the Sol Duc River in late summer and spawn in late fall, while cutthroat trout and steelhead run in the fall and winter and spawn into the
THE ELWHA RIVER
spring. The Sol Duc is one of the few places where salmon run in every season. To get to the Sol Duc area of Olympic National Park, take U.S. Highway 101 west from Port Angeles or east from Forks. Turn southeast on Sol Duc Hot Springs Road and follow it 12 miles. Sol Duc Falls, a 1.6-mile roundtrip, is a hike that wanders through the forest to a cascading falls. The trailhead parking lot is off of Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. Father west on Highway 101, the Sol Duc has several other access points for fishing. Another popular fishing river is the Hoh, south of Forks. The Hoh is fed by glaciers on Mount
28 OLYMPIC PENINSULA VISITORS GUIDE • SUMMER 2018
Olympus, such as the Blue Glacier. The glaciers grind rock into a fine glacial flour which turns the Hoh River a milky, slate-blue color. With several access points, visiting the Hoh can lead you to a few different microclimates, including the wet rainforest or the blustery coast, where the mouth of the Hoh empties into the Pacific Ocean. Other rivers on the Olympic Peninsula include Quinault, Quillayute, Duckabush, Dosewallips, Queets, Bogachiel, South Fork Hoh and Lyre. Many smaller or harder-to-reach rivers flow throughout the park. Check out a park map or stumble across a few as you explore.