There's nothing like a good book or two to help you prepare for a national park visit, whether you're looking for some historical background, a trail or two to hike, or interested in the natural resources or local culture. With that in mind, here are a few titles you might consider in preparation of a visit to Olympic National Park in Washington state.
Tim McNulty goes through Olympic National Park one ecosystem at a time, traveling from the mountains to the forests and on to the coast before turning his attention to the impact humans have had on the park's landscape. There's also a quick help section that tells you where to go to see wildflowers, old-growth forests, and wildlife. Too, he tosses in species checklists to help you keep track of what you've seen.
Once upon a time there was a superintendent of Olympic National Park who was willing to let some of its forests be logged. Fortunately, Carsten Lien couldn't believe it. Through painstaking research, much of it done at the National Archives and the Library of Congress, he shined a great light on what the Park Service allowed to happen within Olympic's borders. Between this book's covers, you'll learn about the magnificent old-growth forests of Olympic, the tug-and-push between the U.S. Forest Service and the Park Service over this landscape, the logging, and the need for ever-present watchdogs.
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, water stories of the past century arose from Olympic National Park, where two dams along the Elwha River watershed were torn down to allow the river corridor to reclaim its natural personality. The removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams has been described as the largest dam removal project in U.S. history. Trying to follow the story from afar is difficult, at best, which makes Elwha, A River Reborn a very good book to read. Through its 170 pages, you're handed the legislative history behind efforts to remove the dams and brought to understand the importance of unleashing the Elwha River. Too, there are the stories pulled from the communities and individuals connected to the river, and those tied to the science conducted in conjunction with the dams' demolition.
Hiking quite often is part and parcel of a visit to Olympic National Park, and Douglas Lorain explains where to go and what you'll see in this title. There are tables to quickly help you see which trails you might want to hike, and which you definitely might not want to tackle (thanks to icons for difficulty of trail and distance). The tables divide the park by region - the Olympic Coast the Northwest Region, North Central Region, Northeast Region, and Southeast Region - so it's easy to look at possible hikes in the general vicinity of where you entered the park. You'll find trail descriptions, pointers on what season is best to hike a particular trail, and "milestones" to watch for along your walk.