One of the most beautiful areas of the Olympic National Park is Lake Crescent. It is one of the national park system's most diverse national parks which contain snowcapped peaks, temperate rain forest, and windswept ocean coastal areas. The park is located along the Olympic Peninsula in the extreme northwest corner of Washington State and is surrounded by the Strait of Juan De Fuca on the north, the Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Puget Sound. Although it is only a short distance to Seattle across the Puget Sound, the park seems very remote as the population of Washington's Olympic peninsula is limited.
The large lake lies in the extreme northern part of the park not far south of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is 600 feet deep in places. The lake was formed by the action of Pleistocene glacier. This curved, deep, freshwater lake is surrounded by high mountains, including 4,534-foot Storm King Mountain. At ten miles long and 624 feet deep, the highly scenic lake is attractive to swimmers as well as anglers hoping to land their share of its plentiful trout. Due to its consistency, recreation at the lake includes fishing. Before heading out on a fishing excursion, consultation with local area guides and resources prove beneficial.
Aside from fishing, boating is especially good in Lake Crescent. Visitors can rent paddleboats, rowboats, and canoes at the Log Cabin Resort. Visitors can get to Lake Crescent from U.S. Route 101, 17 miles west of Port Angeles.
The park itself is very large and contains 922,000 acres. The area include 60 glaciers, 13 rivers, 57 miles of coastline, over 600 miles of trails, the greatest remaining true wilderness forest in America, and the largest herd of Roosevelt elk in the United States. The park includes three separate and diverse ecosystems-subalpine forest and wildflower-rich meadows, temperate rain forests, and the Pacific coastline.
The Olympic peninsula has a long history of human habitation and use, dating back some 12 thousand years to a time when human beings fed on animals such as mastodons. Some nine Indian tribes made use of the area for fishing, hunting, and gathering food. The area provided ample resources such as sea food, berries, roots, elk, and deer for food, and the bark of cedar trees for robes, mats, and baskets.
European explorers first became aware of the area in 1774 on a voyage by Spanish navigator Juan Perez. In 1788 sea captain John Meares sighted the park, and named its highest mountain, Mt. Olympus. Although the Spanish established a settlement near Neah Bay in 1791, the rugged topography and dense vegetation made the park area itself somewhat impenetrable and the mountains were not crossed until the James Christie expedition in 1889. Mt. Olympus itself was first climbed in 1907. Rich in history and beauty, the Crescent Lake offers wilderness at its finest preservation.