As potentially historic weather barrels down on the Pacific Northwest, Olympic National Park officials are taking no chances on the safety of the public. Starting at noon on Thursday, eight campgrounds and three main roads will be closed, with closures expected to last through the weekend. With a series of powerful storms start Thursday afternoon, where high winds and very heavy rain are anticipated, the risk of falling trees and limbs, flooding and road damage are all too real in the Pacific Northwest’s most popular National Park. The storm will be bringing near hurricane force winds, over a foot of rain and even dumping 90 inches of snow on Mount Olympus in just four days. This could be a storm for the record books and the park closures make perfect sense.
With a storm looming in the near future, Olympic National Park announced a road closure for the coming week. The road from the Mora Ranger Station to Rialto Beach will be closed at 7am on October 13th for approximately one week. The road closure has nothing to do with the incoming storm. Instead, it is to fix a damaged section of the road from a storm that hit the region last year. The road will be closed to ALL entry.
Out on the wilderness coast of Olympic National Park, stunning sights and sounds seem to be endless. As the crashing waves create the same soundtrack our ancestors heard millennia ago, exploration of the region leads to a calmness and a connection with nature that is long since lost by modern society. Earlier this week, before the series of storms is expected to slam into the Pacific Northwest, I took a trip to LaPush to enjoy the sun, warmth and solitude of Washington’s gorgeous stretch of wild coast. As the sun dropped in the horizon, it illuminated giant clouds in the distance, reminding me that my perfect day at the beach was a limited activity. A storm was coming and I got the first glimpse of the massive clouds on the horizon.
Dear residents of the Pacific Northwest,
The following weekend is going to be wet, windy an wild. You might lose power, you might see intense flooding, you might have trees come crashing down around your neighborhood. We might see numerous access roads to National Forest lands and National Parks washed out. We might experience the worst storm in 50 years and all hell could possible break loose. We ask you be prepared and know the weather. This is not the weekend to prove you are invincible. Be safe and smart and don’t take any unnecessary risks. While the South Sound and southern stretches of the Olympic Peninsula may be spared from the worst, we will still see some pretty rough weather.
As America’s National Park Service celebrated their 100th birthday, National Parks around the country saw a huge increase in visitors. Highlighted by the centennial celebrations and free entry to every 4th grader in the US, hundreds of millions flocked to experience the very best of America’s public lands. In the Northwest corner of Washington State, Olympic National Park was part of the visitation boom, seeing large amounts of visitors in every corner of the park. From the visitors centers to the backcountry trails, Olympic National Park’s summer was full of people from all over the world trying to experience true wilderness in the wildest lands of the Pacific Northwest.
The Quinault Rainforest’s Graves Creek Road is reopening just in time for wilderness enthusiasts to appreciate first-hand the rain and transformation of Olympic National Park’s saturated rainforests. You read that right- the Graves Creek Road in Olympic National Park is scheduled to reopen to vehicle traffic and campers on October 15th, 2016!
As winter is quickly approaching, Olympic National Park is closing down some popular camping regions to the public for the season. This is a normal announcement, but it is one that needs to be shared by all to make sure no-one drives far out of the way to discover their camping dreams are crushed. I couldn’t image traveling for hours and hours, getting more excited with every passing mile for a unique car camping experience in Olympic, only to find out that the destination of my daydreams wasn’t open. While a handful of campgrounds will be closing, many others will remain open year round, perfect for your off-season adventures into one of America’s favorite wilderness destinations. If you haven’t seen Olympic National Park in the winter, you are missing out on amazing views and experiences!
For the next two weeks, the Graves Creek Campground and access to Quinault Rainforest destinations like Pony Bridge and the Enchanted Valley will be off limits to all Olympic National Park visitors. Starting on Monday, September 19th, road crews will begin repairs along several sections of the Graves Creek Road. Since last winter, the road has been closed to vehicles due to large washouts caused by heavy rains and an always shifting riverbed. Access to Graves Creek was cut short, forcing backpackers and hikers to walk along the road for two extra miles before reaching the official start of the trail system in the region. The road is now closed to all access, including hikers, bicyclists and stock, and will closed for at least two weeks.
We’ve been in contact with Patti Case from the Green Diamond Resource Company, the company owning the land around the historical, magnificent and dangerous Vance Creek Bridge outside Shelton in Mason County. Yesterday we reported on the possible end of the bridge as Instagram knows it.
In the remote stretches of Mason County, out near the wilderness regions of the Olympic Peninsula, a historical structure is quietly being destroyed, one board at a time. What should be a major attraction to the area, the picturesque Vance Creek railroad bridge, spanning a forested creek, is being destroyed in secret. You can blame the trespassers, you can blame out of town vandals, but at the end of the day, we might have to start blaming the land owners. You are sitting on a tourism gold mine and instead of being a people-friendly company, you are appearing out of touch. Keeping this historical wonder to yourselves is an outdated way of thinking. You could turn this into a tourist destination, like British Columbia’s Kinsol Trestle and show that you are a company that cares about the region’s historical landmarks. Instead, we get silence.
Towering up like an erupting volcano in the distance, the Godkin and Hayes fires continue to rage above the Elwha River in Olympic National Park. Transforming the view from Olympic’s Hurricane Ridge region from a picturesque quiet panorama to a blazing, smoke filled inferno, those visiting the Olympic Peninsula are hard pressed to remember seeing a fire like this. While the smoke and flames are intimidating and scary, it is important to remember that fires in the region are normal and an important part of keeping a healthy forest. Thanks to a huge flare up of the Godkin and Hayes fires, 2,188 acres have been burnt, up from just 350 acres six days ago. With above average temperatures returning to the region, the fires are expected to grow in size and select roads and trails will continue to be closed.
Maybe the fire will be blown out on August 25th, when the National Park celebrates the centennial birthday…
On July 21st, Olympic National Park was rocked by over 400 lighting strikes during a turbulent storm that swept over western Washington. Many will remember that storm through the countless pictures on social media over lightning over the Space Needle, but out in the wilderness of Olympic, the lasting impact of the lightening is still being seen and smelled. The lightning at the end of July started four fires in the wilderness of Olympic, all of which have slowly grown larger with the warmer weather that has smothered the Pacific Northwest. The fires in Olympic National Park have now burnt 315 acres, a number that will surely increase a bit after tonight’s flareups and the continuing warm weather.
In honor of the National Park Service turning 100 years old on August 25th,2016, images and love for our most precious of natural wonders has been coming in from all corners of the world. Today, as I checked Twitter, I caught a glimpse of a view of Olympic National Park that I rarely see. From high above the atmosphere on the International Space Station, Astronaut Jeff Williams shared both images and a video of America’s most-diverse National Park. From high above, the rainforest-lined river valley show off a stunning green, while the Olympic Mountains look perfect, pristine and as wild as they are. I don’t often need to wipe drool from the corner of my mouth while looking at pictures of my backyard, but these pictures truly are beautiful, inspiring and breathtaking.
As a busy July winds down in Olympic National Park, four wildfire continue to burn in the wilderness of one of America’s favorite parks. Over 250 acres have been burnt due to fires started by lightning strikes in the park, ranging in size from 150 acres to just 1/2 acre in size. Three of the fires are burning in Olympic National Park’s north region, with smoke visible from Hurricane Ridge. One fire, the Cox Valley Fire, is burning across the valley from the road leading to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. The fourth fire is burning in the Quinault region, 22 miles northeast of Lake Quinault. The fires have little impact on visitation to Olympic and visitors should not hesitate to explore the region.
UPDATE: On August 18th, the road was once again closed to the public over concerns for safety. A previous update on August 1st, reported that the Obstruction Point Road was reopened to the public. That was the case, but it is once again closed.
The Obstruction Point Road in Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge region is closed to to smoke from a wildfire. The popular area for hikers, backpackers and marmots is usually packed during the end of summer, but thanks to a wildfire burning nearby, the region is inaccessible for vehicle traffic until the fire is contained. See high quality pictures of this fire in here. Please read the latest information about the Olympic National Park wildfires here: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4906/#
“For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.”
Those words are atop the iconic Roosevelt Arch that greets visitors to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana. On June 10th, 2016, a visitor from Texas decided to add his initials to the famous arch, in what he later descried as a “a bad decision.” According to a NPS press release, the man responsible was sentenced Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by U.S Magistrate Judge Mark Carman, who ordered him to serve three days in jail, pay a $250 restitution fee for repairs, and $40 in court fees.
ONP sent out an announcement today that an approximately seven-acre wildland fire is burning in the wilderness of the Elwha River valley. The Seven-Acre Godkin Fire is located about 25 miles south of Port Angeles, in approximately the geographic center of Olympic National Park. The fire was ignited during last Thursday’s series of storms, which led to over 400 lightning strikes over the Olympic Mountains, along with significant rainfall.
There’s good and there’s bad news.
The good news is that the Olympic Hot Springs road will be repaired starting Monday. The bad news is that all access to the Elwha Valley will be closed during construction.
We’ve been mentioning this closure on our Adventure Dispatch podcast weekly and now it’s happening, which is exciting.
“Olympic National Park visitors are reminded to stay at least 50 yards away from mountain goats and other park wildlife at all times. Park regulations state that all visitors must maintain a distance of at least 50 yards, or half the length of a football field, between themselves and any park wildlife. If any animal approaches closer than 50 yards, visitors should move away to maintain the minimum distance.”
The Outdoor Society has received unconfirmed reports that a fire is burning on the bottom of the trestle of the Vance Creek Bridge in Mason County, Washington. According to numerous social media reports we have been directed to, as well as a source we have in the area, a fire is burning under the famous bridge’s trestle, presumably started by trespasser in the region celebrating America’s birthday. Early reports are saying that the fire is two acres in size and the bridge is still standing.
Fireworks are the leading theory for the cause of the fire, currently burning in an area where firefighters can only use helicopters to try and douse the flames. Those in the area reported smelling the burning of the railroad ties on the bridge, as well as seeing smoke rising from nearby vantage points. Calls to the land owner and fire department have not been returned, but we expect to only hear confirmation. We will continue to monitor this story as we can and report what we hear.