As of March 30th, 2016, the road to Rialto Beach is open. Be aware that there is just one-lane travel near the damaged section of the road, but it is open to vehicle traffic, once again!.
Original Story from March 9th, 2016
Olympic National Park officials have announced an immediate closer of Rialto Beach and Mora Campground ahead of an incoming storm. With winds expected to reach peak gusts well over 60MPH on the coast, and ocean swells expected to be between 18 to 22 feet on Wednesday night and reaching 20 to 25 feet on Thursday morning, this storm could be quite intense. While just two inches of rain are expected to fall at Forks, the combination of the wind, the new rain and the already soaked ground from a record setting winter could also leave numerous trees down and reduce access to all roads in the region, including Highway 101. The closure of Rialto should be taken as seriously as the August 29th, 2015 closure that severely limited access and caused quite a bit of damage.
Yet another closure is hitting the wilderness of the Olympic Peninsula. This time, it is the Bogachiel River. This winter, a record setting rainfall has hit the region, causing rivers to flow full, eroding the sediment filled banks of rivers across the region. The rains and raging rivers washed out the road to the Elwha and Quinault regions of Olympic National Park, and now have closed the route into Olympic National Forest’s Bogachiel region. While plans are in the works to fix the washed out sections of the trail, the road has now been ordered closed, and hiking access seriously limited. With nowhere to park and a trail that has dropped into the river, we welcome another temporary casualty of winter.
Get ready to see your Instagram and Facebook feeds fill up with pictures of a ghost town in the North Cascades.
The Washington Cascade’s most famous “ghost town” will soon be reopening for hikers and backpackers to explore. On March 8th, 2016, the US Forest Service announced that the trail and site of the old mining town will be reopened to the public by the end of May. Located along the South Fork of the Sauk River, Monte Cristo was closed to the public to remove hazardous toxic minerals left behind from the mining boom that occurred in this region over a century ago. With the cleanup nearly complete, the public will once again be able to travel back in time and see a mining boom town in the middle of the wilderness. While the buildings are derelict, Monte Cristo is a great family destination to explore the beauty of the Cascades and the history of the region.
On Feb 23rd, 2016, the first grizzly bear of the the year was spotted in Yellowstone National Park. The announcement and picture sent a jolt through the hiking and wildlife watching community of America’s original National Park. This bear sighting comes before the normal first sightings, which usually occur in March. The 2016 grizzly sighting is a few weeks earlier than normal, but not as early as 2015, when the first grizzly was spotted on February 9th 2015, 14 days earlier. With the bears waking up and roaming, hikers need to be aware, as active bears earlier in the year increase the potential for unexpected bear encounters.
On Saturday, February 20th, 2016, one of the classic regions of Olympic National Park finally reopened. Three months ago, a winter storm, combined with the now free roaming Elwha River combined and carved a new channel, wiping out a huge section of the road leading to some of the prettiest areas of Olympic. Today, Olympic Crews completed a temporary foot path into the Elwha Valley, restoring access to popular day hiking and backpacking destinations. This washout the closure impacted quite a few locals hoping for awesome winter adventures. While the new trail is great news, it is temporary and visitors are used to use caution.
I love data, and I love National parks, so when I can create a post where the two of them go hand in hand, I get extra excited. Earlier this week, the National Park Service released their official totals for National Park visitation. As usual, my January 5th estimations of the 10 Most Popular Parks was correct. However, I am not here to celebrate my victory in predicting the order of park’s popularity. Instead, this post will be shedding insight into how popular Washington State’s National Parks are nationally and how they compare to local sporting events.
Residents of the Pacific Northwest will have a hard time forgetting the summer of 2015. We broke heat records, had intense fires and saw the sun more than we ever have in our corner of the country. It was the year it didn’t rain, the year the lakes vanished and the year the rainforest of Olympic National Park caught on fire. For 170 days, a forest fire burnt the rainforest, but few saw any of the impact of the huge blaze. Today, with the release of new images of the Olympic Peninsula from NASA, we truly see the devastation to the immense section of wilderness that was on fire for half of 2015.
As heavy rains, strong winds and otherwise nasty conditions blasted the Pacific Northwest, the Quinault River ran high and wild, shifting its banks as it always has. In previous years, the river shifted course 14 miles upriver, threatening to wash away the Enchanted Valley Chalet. In late 2015, the river shifted further downstream, wiping out a huge section of the only road leading to Graves Creek Campground. The Graves Creek Road in Olympic National Park is now closed to ALL vehicle traffic and only accessible to hikers on foot. Anyone heading to this area needs to be cautious while working their way around the washed out section of the road.
After a record low snowpack during the winter of 2014-15, the Olympic Mountains have once again returned to their snowy splendor. The winter of 2015-16 is on record as being a normal year, but compared to the barren peaks of last year, normal seems quite impressive. Across the mountain tops and even down in the low valleys, the snow has not only fallen this year, but is sticking around. As of February 9th, the Olympic Mountains are sitting at 106% of normal snowpack around the four monitoring stations in the Olympic Mountains. The difference between this year and last year is staggering.
Olympic National Park is full of gorgeous scenery as far as the eye can see. Whether you are on the wilderness coast, along the lakes and rivers, up on ridges or deep in the rainforest, it is hard to not see beautiful nature all over. The scenery of the park inspires adventure and wanderlust, and something as simple as a picture can make you fall in love with Olympic. Starting in June of 2016, a new picture used for the annual pass for Olympic National Park will feature a stunning picture of the Queets Basin by Jake Morrison of Quinault, Washington. The image, shown below, was the winner of a Facebook contest sponsored by friend of the Park Discover Your Northwest. Picked from nearly 200 images, the picture of the Queets Basin is inspiring, beautiful and a fantastic representation of the diversity of landscapes in America’s 7th most-visited National Park.
I recently fell in love with Crater Lake, visiting it twice in three months. I spent the rest of the year trying to convince everyone I knew that they needed take a trip to Oregon’s only National Park. I would rant and rave about the stunning scenery, the incredible drive down Oregon from the Dalles to the park, and even tell them they had to get an amazing slice of pie at Beckie’s Cafe while they were down there. Crater Lake had me running around like a smitten adolescent. Even while there I yelled it from Crater Rim, overcome with glee and giddiness. After numerous days explore, I had thought I had seen the ancient volcano from every angle. One picture changed that.
Tucked away in the upper left corner of the contiguous United States, Olympic National Park is one of America’s most popular wilderness destinations. Best known for stunning coastlines, dense rainforests, salmon filled rivers and glaciated summits, the region has brought Nirvana to life twice and forever changed how we view wilderness in America’s public lands. Consistently ranked in the top 10 most-visted National Parks, Olympic has inspired generations to explore this mind-blowlingly stunning part of the world. In 2015 Olympic National Park continued to be one of most-visited Parks, drawing over three million visitors in the wild 12 months. During the year, Olympic saw everything from severe drought burning the rainforest to death in a hot springs. In 2015, Olympic had washouts, wind storms, a winter of no snow and a winter of amazing snow. The exact number of visits to Olympic National in 2015 was 3,262,719, according to park statistics obtained by The Outdoor Society.
For those who don’t already know, 2016 marks the 100th year of the National Park Service. To celebrate the anniversary of America’s Best idea, the National Park Service is offering 16 fee free entry days to our National Parks. While some will complain that our parks should always be free, we here at The Outdoor Society understand budgets and the problems of bureaucracy, and applaud the National Park Service for adding seven more free days than in 2015. The fee free days also extend to National Monuments, National Refuges, Forest Service land and more.
In a year where National Park’s around America saw record numbers of visitors, it should come as no surprise that Yellowstone had an amazing year. According to a press release, issued by YNP officials, 2015 saw 4,097,710 “visits” to Yellowstone National Park. This number is up an incredible up 16.6% from 2014, which was the previous record. While the park faced issues like idiots approaching bison for selfies, the year of 2015 should be remembered as the year even more people fell in love with the majesty and splendor of America’s first National Park. Yellowstone National Park was the third most-visited National Park in America for 2015.
Along the northern end of the Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca, the faults are waking up. Mere months after The The New Yorker wrote an article saying residents in the greater Seattle area were doomed, the region has been rocked by thousands of earthquakes. From January 1st, 2016 through January 4th, 2016, there were 2,413 earthquakes in the Salish Sea region of the Pacific Northwest. Even more amazing is that since Christmas Day, nearly 8,000 small quakes have hit Vancouver Island, the Salish Sea and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.
While the skiers and snowboarders are dancing on the slopes and the lowlands are covered with snow, most sane people are sit by the fire with a cold or warm beverage. How romantic, right?
As the snow continues to pile up after a well-deserved winter, the sane people relax while the “kinda off” people are scheming in front of laptops, looking for the perfect way to be exhausted. Known as trail runners, the non-sane people are already deep in their adventure planning process for the upcoming years. They are looking at race routes, finding new trail run, and training for something greater than the present can offer. They are twisting to push their body and to be rewarded with amazing views and moments of clarity in the wilderness. Long story short, many of us are looking forward to a year of incredible trail running adventures.
Crater Lake National Park had a really tough winter in 2014-15.
In February, the Outdoor Society took our inaugural expedition to the region and were shocked at the little amount of snowfall. Usually, by February Crater Lake should see nearly 300 inches of snowfall. In February of 2015, it had nearly 100 inches. It was a pathetic snow year in the Pacific Northwest, and Crater Lake took a serious winter hit. Luckily, 2015 ended on a ridiculously high note for Oregon’s only National Park. In the 31 days to end the year, Crater Lake received nearly 200 inches, nearly double of the entire winter of 2014-15.
Chances are, you visited one of the 59 National Parks that are scattered around the country. America’s National Park’s have never been more popular, with 2015 seeing 300 million visitors to National Park Service lands. Around the country, numerous parks shattered visitation records and gave wilderness experiences to many who had previously not seen the most-beautiful protected lands in America. From the geysers at Yellowstone to the rainforests of Olympic, and everywhere else sea to shining sea, America’s National Parks had an amazing year.
While 2016 is probably going to shatter every record in every National Park due to the 100 year anniversary of the Park Service, #FindyourPark, 2015 should not be overlooked. Despite congress constantly trying to underfund and take away these public lands, Americans came out in droves to see the best wilderness and nature in all of existence. While the official numbers for recreational visitation won’t be released until mid-January of 2016, The Outdoor Society is proud to present the ten most-visited National Parks for 2015.
Most days, Instagram looks like the wild west of Leave No Trace Principles and proper stewardship rules in the wilderness. On nature pages across the app, scenes of rule breaking are shared and loved. Remote areas in the wilderness become shutterbug shrines, luring scores of outdoor enthusiasts. Birds are fed, signs are ignored and laws are broken. Typically, nothing happens to the photographer and/or the company.
Unless you are REI and got lectured publicly by Mount Rainier National Park.
As the year winds down, so do the number of individuals who head outdoors to Olympic National Park. What started as an endless onslaught of wilderness lovers flooding Washington State’s most popular National Park has slowly turned into a trickle. In November of 2015, when large retailers like REI encouraged everyone to #OptOutside, Olympic saw a 37.8% increase in visitation, with 104,297 people exploring and reconnecting with the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula. For the year, Olympic National Park has seen over three million people for the third consecutive year and the 17th time in the Park’s 77 history.