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 Keeping this historical wonder to yourselves is an outdated way of thinking.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.
Have your Voice Heard!
Located in a picturesque rainforest valley, under the shadows of rocky peaks and quickly melting glaciers, Olympic National Park’s Enchanted Valley is one of the most popular and scenic backpacking destinations in the National Park Service. Now located 15 miles from the nearest trailhead, the Enchanted Valley lives up to its name, casting a spell on all who wander to this remote destination. Home to bear, waterfalls, majestic views and the shores of a glacial fed, rainforest river, for many the highlight is the historic chalet in the valley. Built in the 1930s, the Chalet has been an iconic structure deep within the wilderness of America’s rainforest park.
On Tuesday, June 7th, Yellowstone National Park officials responded to a call about a tourist incident at the Norris Geyser Basin region of the park. As this is being written, park staff are working to retrieve the body of the individual who reportedly left the boardwalk in the geyser and hot springs area. The hot springs that the body is in is said to be .13 miles from the boardwalk. This is the first fatality of what promises to be a difficult season for Yellowstone National Park Rangers.
As we have been reporting all year, the snowpack of Washington State is quickly vanishing after a slightly above average snowfall last winter. Right now, the majority of Washington State is below 50% of average snowpack, with some regions close to or at zero. The Olympic Mountains, which The Outdoor Society primarily focuses on, are at a staggeringly low 5% of normal. The only location in all of Washington that has a mostly normal snowpack are the mountains surrounding Mount Rainier. Otherwise, the situation is looking bleak. After a non-existent winter in 2014-15, we were hoping that this year’s snow would help restore normalcy to the area and that streams and rivers would be at strong flows all summer long. The warm temperatures that we have been experiencing and will continue to experience are shattering those hopes.
Sad news out of Yellowstone National Park this morning. In a press release from park officials, an update on the bison placed in a tourists SUV was given. Because of the actions of the visitors, which infuriated and angered many, the bison calf that was picked up and placed in the back of a car last week was forced to be euthanized by park officials. According to the park, the bison calf had to be euthanized because it was abandoned and was causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.
I feel bad for the National Park Rangers who work in Yellowstone. Upon entering the park, they give you a stack on information and make sure you are aware of the rules and regulations of the park. They answer questions with a smile on their face and hope for the best with each passing carload of guests. Sadly, more and more often, people are proving that they have absolutely zero understanding of how to behave in and with nature. After last year’s ridiculousness of tourists getting too close to bison, you’d have thought we would have seen it all. We were wrong.
Back in October of 2015, the endless summer of warm temperatures and sunny days suddenly vanished, replaced by endless, record setting rainfall and a ridiculously healthy snowpack in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Skiers and snowboarders rejoiced as their mountains became white and fluffy, while hikers slogged along on muddy, soaked trails. Numerous roads around the state were washed away, trees fell in cities and trails, and the entire Pacific Northwest experienced one of the nastiest winters on record. We were told that it was good and that the snowpack in the mountains would last well into summer. We were reassured that we had recovered from the historic drought of 2015 and that last winter was our savior.
It seemed that many of the cable media news forecasters thought they were correct and that the snowpack would last a long time. Those of us watching the weather stations around the state’s mountains, knew better. As we monitored the snowpack each week, we were seeing something different.