Ranger Dave Reynolds
Encompassing three distinct ecosystems and nearly one million acres, Olympic National Park has limitless opportunities for outdoor adventure, discovery and relaxation. With Pacific Ocean beaches, rainforest valleys, glacier-capped peaks, and a stunning variety of plants and animals, there’s something for everyone at Olympic.
In 2012, we checked in with Park Ranger Dave Reynolds about planning the perfect escape to Olympic National Park.
- Name: Dave Reynolds
- Position: Public Information Officer
- Park: Olympic National Park
- Age: 32
- Hometown: Summerville, PA
- Number of years at park: 1.5
- Number of parks visited: 7
- First park visit: Shenandoah National Park
Why did you become a Park Ranger?
I got lucky! I like the idea of working in support of something much larger than myself, so I’ve always been drawn to public service. I am especially proud to work for NPS because it’s government at its best, providing educational and recreational opportunities for all of its citizens, and highlighting our country’s natural and cultural history to others as well. The most inspiring thing is knowing that what we do here matters: not just here and now, but for future generations. I think what the National Park Service does truly is “America’s Best Idea” and I’m glad I get to help tell that story.
Can't Miss Activities
For a first-time visit to Olympic National Park, you’ve got to hit the Hoh Rain Forest. I definitely recommend a day hike up the Hoh River Trail. It’s about 17 miles to Glacier Meadows near Mount Olympus, but I’ve yet to make it that far. But you can follow the trail down to the river, walk along the gravel bars there and get an amazing view of Mount Olympus. For visitors with young kids, a leisurely stroll around the Hall of Mosses, a .8-mile loop from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, or Spruce Nature Trail, a 1.2-mile loop from the Visitor Center to the Hoh River and back, are great ways to learn more about one of the world’s largest remaining temperate rainforests.
In September 2011, the world’s largest dam removal began on the Elwha River. Elwha River Restoration is a $325 million federal project to restore the river’s anadromous fisheries and the entire valley ecosystem through the removal of two aging dams, built without fish passage in the early 20th century. During this historic project, a short overlook trail has been constructed, leading to a panoramic view of the Elwha Dam as it impounds the Lake Aldwell reservoir. To reach the trail, park at the top of Lower Dam Road and make the short hike to have a birds-eye view as the dam is deconstructed and the reservoir drains.
I think if you’d ask 10 people, you might get 10 different answers. But I’m going to go with Humes Ranch Loop trail in Olympic National Park’s Elwha Valley. From the Whiskey Bend trailhead, it’s a 4.5 mile loop to Humes Ranch and back. It’s a moderate-level hike through lowland forests and past historic homesteads. You’re highly likely to see a few deer and maybe an elk.
Touring the Park by Car
Take the winding 17-mile drive up Hurricane Ridge Road, breathe in the fresh subalpine air, and enjoy views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island, Mount Baker, and the Olympics. In 2012, for the second straight year, Olympic National Park is prepared to keep the road open 7 days a week (weather permitting of course) through the winter, thanks in part to a community fundraising effort which raised $75,000 to help cover increased costs. It’s about a 45-minute drive up the hill (watch for rocks) but well worth the trip and easily accessible from town. Note that all vehicles must carry tire chains during the winter season. Stop by the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center for brochures and maps before heading out on your drive.
Hurricane Ridge has a number of hiking trails, from ridgetop traverses to steep trails that descend to subalpine lakes and valleys. Obstruction Point Road (weather and snow permitting, open from July 4 through October 15), branches off right before the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, and provides access to a variety of trails as well. The Ridge can be enjoyed throughout the year. During the winter months, snow enthusiasts enjoy the winter scenery, along with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding. Ranger-guided snowshoe walks are offered on the weekends and are a popular way to explore and learn about the Ridge's winter environment.
Rafting at the Park
The park’s official concessionaire for rafting trips is Olympic Raft & Kayak, and they offer trips on the Elwha, Hoh, and Sol Duc Rivers.