The Evergreen Playground

America's Last Frontier: An Ideal Vacation Land


The Olympic Peninsula--offering everything from majestic views of the Olympic Mountains to wild seacoasts along the Pacific Ocean-- attracts visitors from all over the world. Accessible by ferry, car, bus, or plane, the peninsula's heritage of rustic natural beauty continues to astonish.

The history of tourism on the peninsula began in the 1890s. The interior of the peninsula was at that time an impenetrable wilderness cloaked in mystery. While indigenous people had explored the Olympic Peninsula interior for decades, the first recorded exploration was by the Press Expedition of 1890. John Muir would later proclaim the need for preservation of this priceless wilderness after his own exploration in 1896.

The agriculture, lumber, and tourism industries invigorated the local economy in the early 1900s. The creation of the Olympic Loop Highway system (present day Highway 101) in 1931, in conjunction with the ascendancy of the automobile as family transportation, brought new residents to the peninsula and established the area as a bona fide tourist destination. Advertisements for resorts, health spas and Native American villages encouraged visitors from far and wide to experience this scenic corner of the northwest.

“The Olympic Peninsula is a land of myriad wonders. Glorious lakes, sapphire-hued, forest edged; towering mountains; streams that teem with gamey fish; winding highways that lead to enchanted spots; delightful resorts lure the outing enthusiast, the fisherman and the vacationist. Here one finds Nature at her best-brilliant, masterful, soul-stirring. A scenic wonderland, unsurpassed in the world, is the Olympic Peninsula.”

-“Where-to-Go, Directory of the Pacific Coast,” ca. 1930s

The establishment of Olympic National Park in 1938 was the culmination of a drama between timber yield and preservation of a wilderness wonderland. Today, Olympic National Park encompasses almost one million acres and is designated as a World Heritage site.


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The Community Museum is a project of community organizations and Tribes across the Olympic Peninsula and the University of Washington.
Support for the project comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Preston, Gates and Ellis, LLP.