Good news for everyone who overeats on Thanksgiving day! To help encourage people to get outside after the Thanksgiving, Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park are offering free entry to all who wish to visit these public lands. Called Green Friday at Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks, officials are excited to a help create new family traditions outside in wilderness.
As the Pacific Northwest recovers from last weekend’s storms and prepares for more wind and rain, we thought we’d take a few minutes and review just how impressive the last week has been weather wise. Before the storm, many scoffed at Olympic National Park closing sections around the nearly one million acre park. From the mountain tops to the ocean, and everything in between, the Olympic Peninsula in particular got blasted with an incredible storm lasting about 72 hours.
With a strong fall storm barreling down on the Pacific Northwest, the officials at Olympic National Park have decided to close six entrances to the park, and even close down a campground. With nearly a foot of rain expected to fall between Thursday and Saturday in and around Olympic National Park, visitors are urged to stay away from the entire region. This comes as a precautionary measure after a strong storm in late August of 2015 forced a closure and evacuation of many of the parks more popular areas. The closure will impact major areas of the park starting no later than 5pm on Thursday, November 12th.
Short Answer: Nope. Nature is unpredictable and people will ignore signs.
Long Answer: No, but they will be safer…kind of. Nothing is safe, and statistically speaking, your chances of being injured in a car accident on the way to the caves is much higher. However, the US Forest Service is working hard to make it as safe as possible.
On July 6th, 2015, one of Washington’s more popular day hikes, the Big Four Ice Caves in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, closed. The popular tourist and local destination was closed after the collapsing ice killed two individual, but it appears that the National Forest Service will try to reopen this popular destination in spring 2016, this time with more warning signs. At least that is what reports are saying.
This week has been a rollercoaster of emotions for the Elwha Region of Olympic National Park. The week started with an announcement that the incredibly popular Olympic Hot Springs would be closed due to a 61 year old man dying in one of the pools. Now, we get good news, as the Whiskey Bend Road has once again reopened to vehicle traffic. The road, which is 4.5 miles in length had been closed to access after a storm in late 2014 washed away a small section of the popular drive. With the opening of the Whiskey Bend Road in Olympic National Park, locals and wilderness lovers will once again have a short hike to stunning views like Goblin’s Gate, Michael and Humes Ranches, and of course, the stunning Dodger Point Bridge spanning the mighty Elwha River.
On Monday, a body was discovered in the Olympic Hot Springs in the Elwha Region of Olympic National Park. The discovery forced the closure of the hot spring areas of one of America’s most popular National Parks. The news is sad, as it appears the 61 year old deceased man from Silverdale, WA died from natural causes. Because the body was discovered in the hot springs, Park officials have decided to close the pools for health and safety concerns.
The Elwha Region is already mostly closed to access due to the repairs of the Whiskey Bend Road leading to some of the best hikes in the area. With the closure of the Hot Springs, the Elwha might be a place to skip for a few weeks until things return to normal.
As summer officially ended, visitation numbers in Olympic National Park continued their slowing trend, reflecting a bit of burnout and fatigue from the impact of an endless summer. While the park didn’t quite break the three million visitor mark, seeing 2,950,225 through the first nine months of 2015, the sharp decrease in visitors was not as bad as last month. Total visitation to the park was nearly even compared the numbers from 2014, when 2,948,304 visitors came to Olympic in the first three quarters of the year. In September of this year, 391,895 visitors were counted entering Olympic National Park, down from 394,495 during the same month in 2014.
The Olympic Hot Springs Road will soon reopen!
Changes in access are coming to the Elwha Region of Olympic National Park are starting on October 10th, and like most everything, there is both good and bad news. The bad news is for the Whiskey Bend Road. The Whiskey Bend Road, which leads trails that pass by old cabins, incredible gorges and stunning river views of the Elwha River has been closed to cars since late 2014, when a storm washed away a large section of the road. The region had been open to hikers, bikers and backpackers, but starting October 12th, it will be closed for repairs which will take five weeks or longer.
Love is in the air for the Roosevelt Elk in Olympic National Park, meaning the the fall elk rut is upon us. As the rain starts to fall and the leaves transition from green to orange, male elk, known as bulls, get quite excited. During this time, male elk attempt to become the dominant elk in the region, hoping for their chance to win and mate with their harem. During the rut, the local elk will bugle as a mating call, which can also attract other males in the region to battle for dominance. Because of the aggressive, mating, bull elk, the Hoh Rainforest Campground in Olympic National Park will be closed until the end of October, 2015.
The numbers for Total Recreation visits through August, 2015 are in, and they come as quite a shock. Despite the long summer and the incredible weather, visitation for Olympic National Park has dropped in August, a usually peak month for tourism. Some say it dropped because of the wildfires and burn bans ruining camping trips. Others think that numbers are low because summer started in the Pacific Northwest in April, or maybe coincided with back to school apprehension and the start of Seahawks football. The numbers are likely also down because of a wind storm that closed sections of the park during the last weekend of August. For whatever reason, less people visited Olympic National Park in August of 2015 than in August of 2014. With other National Parks seeing an increase in tourism and having record years, it appears Olympic National Park is in danger of losing its place as one of America’s most-visted National Parks.
While the rest of Washington seemed to be consumed with news of the return of the Seahawk’s Kam Chancellor, the Chinese President’s visit, and his impact on traffic, a group of 65 people met quietly in a small parking lot in Olympia, Washington. Surrounded by fir trees and the crisp fall sun, one of the biggest issues facing the wilderness of the Olympic Peninsula was being met head on. As the rest of the state and country talked about the news of today, concerned citizens from around the Pacific Northwest met at the offices of Olympic National Forest with a single mission, protecting the future.
Every hiker knows about the Appalachian Trail, and millions across the nation know of the Pacific Crest Trail. The north/south trails running along the mountains of each coast have been featured in movies, written about in books, and have been responsible for millions of dollars of endorsement deals from outdoor companies around the world. Everyone and their dog wants to hike the AT or the PCT, but there is now a contender to make those two trails look pedestrian, and their scenery look average. There is a new Thru-hike coming, and it is amazing.
Good News Update!!!
Park officials announced Thursday morning they have found a hiker missing near Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. David Galbraith, missing since Tuesday evening, was found alive, cold, tired and hungry, by an Olympic National Park search team at about 11:15 this morning.
Original Post: The man, David Galbraith of Victoria, British Columbia is 51 years old and was hiking near Mount Storm King in the northern section of the park. Currently, there are over 20 people searching for him, including 14 ground searchers, searchers in a helicopter and two search dog teams are scouring the Mount Storm King area. A description of the event was sent out as a press release by Olympic National Park.
As the temperatures drop and rain returns, Olympic National Park and National Forest kick off their fall tourist season with some great news. After 76 days (June 25th to September 9th) with no fires allowed in the backcountry, along the beaches or outside of established fire pits, campers around one of America’s most popular wilderness destinations can now have fires. With twenty fires burning in the park and forest during the summer of 2015, the burn ban was needed, and helped prevent making this fire season even worse. Now, if you are heading out into the back country, or to a campground along the coast or in the woods, fires are now allowed.
Pikas are adorably cute, and nearly everyone who sees these tiny animals is taken aback by their adorableness. The American Pika is one of the toughest animals in the contiguous United States, living high above the tree line, thriving in cold temperatures, small spaces and some of the most unfriendly terrain around. Yet, despite their ability to survive in ridiculous climates, the American Pika is disappearing in the mountains of the west, with sightings becoming less and less common around America and Canada.
I refrain from writing weather posts, as they tend to lose their usefulness quickly. However, this week’s forecast is something I can’t skip over. During the first week of September, 2015, there is a chance of snow for the mountains around the Pacific Northwest, something drastically needed during the driest, hottest summer in recorded history. From September 2nd to the 4th, snow could fall on mountain peaks as low as 5,500 feet, with accumulations up to a few inches.
Update- As of 5pm September 1st, 2015, Olympic National Park is reopen. A few trails might be closed, but the park and campgrounds are open!
The 29th of August will long be remembered around the Pacific Northwest. After a record long drought and more 70, 80 and 90 degree days than in any year on record, most thought the summer would never end. Instead, as August was winding down, a strong storm slammed into Cascadia. Knocking down trees, causing power outages, dumping rain, taking lives and closing highways and parks, the August storm of 2015 was powerful. While the entire region felt the impact of the detrimental weather, the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park felt it strongest, causing America’s sixth most-visted National Park to closed and evacuated. Twenty-four hours later, the park slowly started to reopen, with images of the fast moving destruction trickling in over social media.
8/29/2015 Updated 12:16PM
In a press release just sent out by Olympic National Park officials, Olympic National Park entry roads and campgrounds have been closed. Wind speeds up to 30+ MPH and gusts up to 70+ MPH have been reported, and numerous downed trees are rumored to be blocking major roads in and around Olympic National Park. With the weather looking to get worse throughout the day, Park officials have closed nearly every aspect of the park. The National Park says they are currently evacuating ALL campgrounds and no new campers will be allowed.
According to officials, Olympic National Park is experiencing high winds across the park. Trees are falling across park roads and Highway 101. Roads and campgrounds may be closed today and tomorrow. Travel to the park is not recommended at this time.