Enchanted Valley Reopens to Camping After Bear Scare Closure

Seven weeks. That is how long the actions of irresponsible campers forced the closure of the campsites in Olympic national Park’s Enchanted Valley. As we reported a few months ago, the Enchanted Valley camping areas were closed due to bear activity. The area was closed on April 24 after visitors reported that black bears had acquired and eaten human food, appearing unafraid of humans and approaching them. Before the closure, internet rumors spread like wildfire, saying that someone had left food around the entire Enchanted Valley Chalet, a historic structure that was moved last year before it fell into the Quinault River. For two months, campers were not allowed to say in the region, but today, June 15th, Enchanted Valley is once again open to camping…if you use a bear canister. 

Olympic National Park officials released the following press release full of the great news:

After a seven-week closure, Enchanted Valley has re-opened to overnight camping.

Rangers and wildlife biologists have monitored the area since then and have found that bear behavior appears to have returned to normal in recent weeks.

“It’s vitally important to human safety and the park’s bears that visitors are diligent about keeping all food, food waste and scented items secured and inaccessible to wildlife,” said Sarah Creachbaum, Olympic National Park Superintendent. “Bear canisters are required for anyone camping in Enchanted Valley – this change is necessary and will make it easier for visitors of all skill levels to securely store their food, garbage and scented items.”

Bear canisters are available for loan from the park’s Wilderness Information Centers (WICs) and some park ranger stations. A suggested $3 donation per canister helps sustain the canister loan program and provide visitor information and education.

Olympic National Park WICs include the following:

Olympic National Park Visitor Center WIC
Open daily 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. through June 17. Beginning June 18, this facility will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. all other days.

South Shore Quinault WIC
Open 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. all other days.

Hoh Rainforest WIC
Open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily.

Proper food storage is vital to maintaining safe distances between bears and humans and is required in all park wilderness and frontcountry areas of Olympic. Information about how to keep food and garbage safe from wildlife is available online at
http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wilderness-food-storage.htm

Wilderness use permits are required for all overnight hiking trips and are available for a $5 nightly fee at all Olympic National Park WICs.

Hikers and all visitors to Olympic National Park are reminded to stay at least 50 yards away from wildlife and to keep food, trash and all scented items properly stored and out of reach of wildlife at all times.

For information about wilderness hiking and camping, including current trail condition reports, people should visit the online Wilderness Trip Planner or stop by any of the Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Centers.

 

Hopefully, campers in the area will be respectful of bears, and all wildlife in the area.  The new requirements should let the region once again be the crown jewel of backcountry camping in the Quinault Rainforest. I am just excited that once again, those interested in connecting with this beautiful region will have the opportunity to stay in the Enchanted Valley of Olympic National Park. Bears still linger in the area, but finally, just in time for summer, dedicated backpackers can see the night sky in one of the most gorgeous and memorable locations in Olympic National Park.

 

 

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