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8 under-the-radar gems of the National Park Service

By: Matt Hickman on April 2, 2010, 6:38 p.m.
Second Beach in Olympic National Park

Photo: Esther Lee/flickr

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Olympic National Park, Washington

Washington has a trio of knockout national parks: The North Cascades, Mount Rainer and Olympic National Park. The last is perhaps the loveliest... and the loneliest. Situated on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, visitors to this mysterious, isolated 922,000-acre wonderland can explore miles of rugged coastline that are ideal for beach backpacking, a dense temperate rain forest and, in the middle of it all, the snow-capped Olympic mountain range. Those easily spooked by extreme, primeval seclusion may want to opt to visit other parks; for those craving dramatic landscapes and even more dramatic quiet, the Olympics are the real deal.