Douglas Scott | Feb 16th, 2017

Heavy Rains Closes Access Into Olympic’s Elwha River Valley (Again)

Yeah, access to the Elwha is limited. Again.

After being only open for three weeks after being closed for 14 months. Hopefully, this closure is much shorter. In case you haven’t noticed, February has been a wet one. Records are close to being broken for the wettest February on record in Seattle and the story is the same on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. Heavy rains over the last few days have flooded our rivers and swollen our streams, resulting in closures to one of Olympic National Park’s most vulnerable regions of access. Olympic Hot Springs Road, also know and The Elwha Road, is closed yet again after being open for only three weeks. 

Announced via the Olympic National Park Facebook page,


The closure is a tale all too common for those who frequently the region. The Elwha River has been swinging wildly since the dam was removed, washing away campgrounds and roads while the river works to find a new path after a century of blockage. The Olympic Hot Springs Road was closed since late November 2015, finally reopening with much excitement 21 days ago. In three short weeks, access has once again been restricted to the Elwha region, but this is only temporary. As the announcement above says, the plan is to reopen the road once it is safe to do so. It better not be another 14 months.

Obviously, this sucks for anyone hoping to get to the Elwha this President’s Day Weekend, but you never know, the road conditions might change (Call 360.565.3131 for current road conditions), only time will tell. Until then, plan to check out one of the other regions of Olympic this weekend. The waterfalls will be raging, making Marymere and Lake Crescent a great option. The coast will also be great, as will the Hoh and the Bogachiel Rainforest. Or go to Quinault, or Staircase or up to Hurricane Ridge. The options are endless, but the closing of the Elwha, even for a few days, is a bummer.

NPS Photos by JFriedman.

NPS Photos by JFriedman.

NPS Photos by JFriedman.

National Park Sources talked to by the Outdoor Society seemed confident that the closure will be temporary. We hope they are right. The Elwha Region is best know for classic day hikes such as the trail to Goblins Gate, Humes and Michaels Cabins, Olympic Hot Springs and the Grand Canyon of the Elwha. To see the highlights of the Elwha, please follow this link.

The Elwha is also the route of the 1889-90 Press Expedition that crosses Low Divide and drops into the Quinault Rainforest. For more hiking ideas and destinations, consider getting our Definitive Guide to Olympic National Park. No trip to the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest is complete without Doug Scott’s definitive guidebook on this diverse and beautiful region. With over 400 pages of content, this book will help anyone visiting the region plan the perfect trip, and let those living in the area know more about the place they call home.