Great news, Mount Rainier lovers!
The road to Paradise is now going to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until winter snows close it again in late 2016. For the foreseeable future, access to one of the prettiest high-alpine regions in America is no longer restricted. According to a tweet sent on the morning of April 18th, 2016, Mount Rainier National Park officials announced the 24 hour opening of the gate from Longmire to Paradise. Now, visitors and locals to the region can head up late at night for stargazing and even enjoy both sunrises and sunsets from one of the most iconic mountains in America.
America’s first National Park is giving quite the gift to the American public for 2016’s National Park Week. While most parks will be giving are entrance to their parks, numerous events and awesome Junior Ranger programs, Yellowstone National Park is opening road to a few of the most picturesque destination in America. According to a National Park Service press release, Canyon and Old Faithful will once again be open to car travel, starting Friday, April 15th at 8am. From West Yellowstone and Gardiner, Montana, visitors to the World’s original National Park can see a few sites that inspired protected lands.
From the Desk of Olympic National Park:
Children of all ages are invited to bring their favorite adult to National Junior Ranger Day at Olympic on Saturday, April 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Olympic’s Junior Ranger Day will take place at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center located at 3002 Mount Angeles Road in Port Angeles.
We’ve been posting quite a few articles this Winter on how the weather battered the park. Downed trees and and rising rivers forced closures from Staircase to Elwah.
But, the sun is out and the staff of the Olympic National Park is getting ready for a busy Summer season.
Here is the official update which dropped into our mailbox today on what is open and what’s closed:
Despite extremely warm temperatures and sunny skies to end March and start April, the snowpack of the Olympic Mountains has barely changed. In fact, it appear that in the higher elevations, barely any snow had melted. Many of you will probably assume that the high temperatures put a nice dent in our snowpack, but the reality is that we have had an extremely wet and snowy winter. It will take more than four days of sun to start melting a significant amount of our above average amount. Serious snow melt-off didn’t happen last week, as I predicted. However, forecasts are calling for even warmer days in the next week, which could help double last week’s melt off.
Lightning destroys the summer hopes and dreams of thousands of backpackers to Mount Rainier National Park.
You can blame the weather and our reliance on technology, I guess.
According to rumors from park rangers, a lightning storm helped ruin the old reservation system for backcountry permits in Mount Rainier National Park. All who applied for backcountry camping permits, including permits for the Wonderland Trail, are subject to first-come, first-serve reservations.
For anyone that has headed out on a hike into the elevation of the Olympics, you know that the snowpack in the mountains is quite impressive this year. Last year, when we should have been neck deep in powder on our favorite trails, we were met with snow-free summits and dry creek beds. Hikers were spoiled last winter, heading out into the higher elevations early in the year, fueling an entire year of wanderlust quenching treks and destinations. Last year, the snow was non-existent and people roamed the mountain tops like the mountain goats placed in the region. That was then. This is now. We have a huge snowpack and I confidently predict it will last until at least June.
Due to ridiculously strong spring storm heading toward the Pacific Northwest, Olympic National Park officials have decided to close six of the most-popular areas of the region to ensure public safety. Winds over 60MPH are threatening to cause a havoc, and the park wants to prevent visitors and employees from being injured or trapped by falling trees or branches. These closures should be taken seriously, and avoiding heaving forested regions s the smart thing to do. The areas of Olympic that are closed will remain closed until at least Monday morning, when park staff will analyze the damage and ensure that the danger of falling branches and trees is minimal. Strong winds, combined with heavy rain and a high surf are forecasted for the region. All warnings and closures should be taken seriously!
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.