Welcome to Road School: October Edition! We’re helping parents everywhere to get kids off of Zoom calls and into nature where it’s safe to do so. Get out and explore! Thurston County has natural experiences that will spark curiosity in both kids and adults!
This month, we’re studying ecosystems. Ecosystems are made up of very specific living creatures that coexist and, in some instances, depend on each other for survival.
Throughout the fall, and beyond, our team will concoct monthly daycation itineraries. Let us take away the indecision and pressure of making plans and give you an easy option to enjoy ALL our region has to offer.
Hit The Beach
Begin your day with a visit to Thurston County’s Burfoot Park, located at the north end of Olympia. The park is an intertidal zone, where the ocean meets the land between high and low tides. A short hike will bring you to a salt water beach providing habitat for a variety of ecosystems and many species of marine life; including sea urchins, sand dollars and crustaceans.
Part of being in nature is respecting all of nature’s creatures. Did you know that you should leave all shells, rocks and driftwood on the beach? Some creatures depend on these for shelter! Make sure to check out this video courtesy of the Puget Sound Estuarium for all the tips before you explore.
Lunch And Learn At The Refuge
On your way from Burfoot Park, pick up lunch to go at Miso Asian Bistro for a locally-owned, family-friendly experience featuring all combinations of healthy ingredients in wraps, bowls or salads (kids can be picky here!)
Continue up the Interstate for about 10 minutes and you’ll find one of the best examples of a coastal salt marsh system remaining in the Pacific Northwest, the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Famous for the more than 275 migratory bird species that use it for migration, wintering or breeding, the refuge provides rearing and migration habitat for steelhead trout and several salmon species. It also supports a variety of threatened and endangered species, including Coho Salmon and the Peregrine Falcon.
Multiple Choice at Mima Mounds
Round out your afternoon about 20 minutes south of the refuge at the Mima Mounds Preserve. In 1966, the National Park Service designated the Mima Mounds a National Natural Landmark for its representation of our nation’s natural landscape. The site supports a variety of prairie-dependent birds and butterflies. Depending on conditions, many state and federal endangered species of butterfly can be found in the preserve, including Mardon Skipper, Zerene Fritillary, Puget Blue and Taylor's Checkerspot.
The most prevalent feature in the preserve is the dozens of low, domelike, natural mounds composed of loose, often gravelly sediment. The origin of these mounds is not fully understood by scientists, but popular theories range from them being glacial formations to accumulations of wind-blown sediments around clumps of vegetation. Another theory blames a small burrowing rodent called a pocket gopher for digging up the ground. Which one do you think it is?
Extra Credit: The Depths of Puget Sound
An estuary is a transition zone between river environments and a partially enclosed coastal body. Parts of Olympia’s original estuary are still found on local docks and beaches on Budd Inlet. The Puget Sound Estuarium connects people of all ages to this delicate and vibrant ecosystem. The specimen collection includes preserved creatures from the depths of Puget Sound and an extensive shell collection.
The Estuarium is open Saturday & Sunday, 11a-4p and is located in downtown Olympia.
Don’t forget to share.
Don’t miss out on any of these easy to plan adventures. Check back monthly for new trip ideas and daycations (or staycation if you’re a local) and don’t forget to share! Tag your social posts #DecidedlyDifferent and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter (@Experience_Oly) and Instagram (@ExperienceOly).