Olympic National Park’s Rialto Beach Closed For Six Weeks

Another month, another closure to a popular area in Olympic National Park. Seems like a familiar tune, right?

This time though, the closure will be a good thing, as the reason for the lack of access is a repair to a the road leading into one of Olympic’s most popular coastal destinations. The closure to Rialto Beach is expected to last through the month of June, meaning that there will be NO ACCESS to this classic Olympic National Park beach until the summer. You read that right, Rialto Beach is off limits until the end of June. (Except Memorial Day Weekend)

Flood damage repair work on Mora Road will begin this Wednesday and last for up to six weeks. That means Rialto Beach will be inaccessible to all visitors until the end of June. Rialto Beach will be accessible to visitors and hikers over Memorial Day weekend starting Friday, May 26, at 5pm through Monday, May 29, at 5pm. The Mora Campground will remain open throughout the project, but you won’t have beach access, so camping here will be more of a basecamp to go to LaPush than anything else.

This project will restore the flood-damaged road to two lanes and address additional slope instabilities. Due to the nature of the road repair there will be no access to Rialto Beach until the completion of the road work with the exception of Memorial Day weekend.  This includes backcountry trips through the North Coast Wilderness beginning and ending at Rialto Beach.

Near Hole in the Wall, along Rialto Beach along the Wilderness Coast of Olympic National Park

Considered to be one of the classic, beach day hikes in Olympic National Park the trek down Rialto Beach to Hole in the Wall is easy, beautiful and a perfect representation of the ruggedness of the Washington Coast. With sea stacks, tide pools, and a chance to see seals, otters and even a whale, the four mile round trip hike is ideal for everyone. There is a small creek crossing along the beach, but wet feet are well worth it once you see the gorgeousness of Hole in the Wall. While Rialto may be closed until around the end of June, there are six more stunning coastal destination around Olympic National Park, all worthy of your time and exploration.

Access is restricted to the work site for visitor and worker safety.  Heavy equipment will be positioned on the roadway to drill soil nails into the road bank and a boom will extend out over the side to complete the work.  The soil nails and facing reinforcement will extend approximately 8 to 10 feet down the existing bank from the road shoulder.  The soil nails will be embedded up to 20 feet horizontally into the bank. The reinforcement system also includes high-strength galvanized mesh and structural shotcrete (concrete sprayed at high velocity using a hose).

Images via ONP.
Images via ONP.

In addition to the necessary work to reinforce the road and repair the pavement and current slope failures, this project will also proactively stabilize adjacent sections along the river side of the Mora Road which are currently showing signs of instability. This preemptive work will help protect against future issues. Overall, this project is crucial for continued long-term access to Rialto Beach.

Mora Road was reduced to one lane after winter storm flooding in 2015-2016 caused a major wash-out. The road slumped and continued monitoring of the pavement cracks indicates ongoing downward movement of the road sub grade. Geotechnical engineers determined the road could not support vehicle loads safely. Further erosion has led to increased undermining of the road bed.

For current road and travel information, visitors should consult the park website at www.nps.gov/olym or call the recorded Road and Weather Hotline at 360-565-3131. For questions about backcountry permits contact the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles at 360-565-3100.

One last thing: Starting in a week or two, the loved and trusty podcast from the The Outdoor Society will return! You read that right! The Adventure Dispatch will return in all it’s glory soon – we promise!


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By Doug and Mathias on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

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