After what has felt like a decade’s worth of bad weather hitting us over the past seven days, the effects of the storms are continuing to wreak havoc on travel plans around Washington State and in our National Parks. Across the state, numerous roads are closed, with many more damaged and/or flooded. Rivers are flooding and spilling their banks, while waterfalls blast down like huge firehoses; the weather here has made the power of nature quite impressive. Sadly, while this weekend will be the ideal time to explore the wilderness of the region, sections of the most-popular National Park in the Pacific Northwest will be closed.
Due to strong winds and heavy rains slamming into the Hood Canal, the Staircase area of Olympic National Park is closed throughout the weekend due to downed trees. Best known for the Staircase Loop Trail and stunning views of the North Fork of the Skokomish River, the Staircase region is becoming one more popular each year. The reason for the closure is due to trees down across the road, and it is likely that crews won’t have Staircase open for the entire weekend. We might get surprised, but anticipate Staircase being closed until at least Monday, December 14th.
In the always incredible Quinault Rainforest, the road to Graves Creek is closed once again, with rumors of a shifting river threatening the road spreading in the outdoor community. While these are unsubstantiated, Graves Creek can be one of the harder places to access in Olympic, thanks to roads washing out, fallen trees and a wildly shifting river. There is no time frame for reopening Graves Creek at this time. If you are dead set on going to the Quinault Rainforest, the north fork of the Quinault, and the road is still open, as are the trails in Olympic National Forest around the Lake Quinault Lodge.
The Olympic Hot Springs Road leading to the Elwha River has been wrecked, with a campground nearly vanishing. That means the Elwha area is closed to vehicle traffic for an undetermined period of time. We will keep you updated on this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if repairs last through the summer. An alternative to the Elwha will never happen, but heading to the Gray Wolf or Bogachiel will come close.
The road to Sol Duc is also closed due to the earlier storms. The road should reopen soon, but be aware that in the event of low-elevation snow or ice, the Sol Duc Road may close at any time throughout the winter. While no falls are as amazing and easily accessible as the Sol Duc Falls, heading to Marymere Falls or walking along the Spruce Railroad Trail serves as a nice substitute.
Finally, Hurricane Ridge will be hit and miss this weekend. In the winter, the road road to Hurricane Ridge is scheduled to be open Friday through Sunday, but closed rest of the week. Be aware that this may change quickly by the Park Service due to always changing conditions. The officials at Olympic want you to know that the road may close on extremely short notice due to weather or unsafe road conditions. Your best bet it to check the Hurricane Ridge Access Twitter Page and/or call (360)565-3131 for a recording of the most current road information.
Please contact the Outdoor Society and Olympic National Park for updates.
If you need help finding another Olympic National Park adventure for this weekend, pick up a copy of The Definitive Guide to Olympic National Park.