100 Days of National Parks: Day 12 – At the Goblin Gates, Olympic National Park

At the Goblin Gates

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The Goblin Gates of the Elwha River in Olympic National Park are fairly easily accessible, located just a few miles from the Whiskey Bend Trailhead in the northern part of the park. This dramatic start of the Elwha Gorge is breathtaking in person, as the narrow gap in the rocks funnels the river past in a rushing torrent, the swirling waters outside the “Gates” a dizzying eddy in the impressive, and important, river.

A few miles downstream from this spot, the Elwha passes through another, far deeper canyon, Glines Canyon, where the biggest dam removal project in U.S. history was completed in 2014, allowing access to critical spawning grounds for several species of salmon.  This proved to be one of the most important ecological victories of the conservation movement in recent memory, and a testament to the importance of clear waterways.  Since the dam’s removal, there has been a significant rise in spawning salmon and trout populations, and the ensuing increase in biodiversity has been directly linked to the removal of the dam.  More information about the removal can be found here.

I look forward to my next trip up the Elwha, perhaps later this spring when the melting snow higher in the mountains pushes the flow through the canyon to its heights.  It’s really an impressive place, and just one of many spectacular sights in the Olympic Wilderness.


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