Park officials say the road will be closed this weekend while crews work to install Jersey barriers and traffic safety signs while continuing to monitor the stability of the road surface.
“As important as this road is to our visitors and neighbors, visitor and employee safety take precedence over all else,” says Olympic National Park Superintendent Bill Laitner.
Initial assessments made last week revealed damage to the road shoulder; an inspection this past Monday showed that the road itself is being undercut. The most heavily damaged site is located just above the Switchback Trailhead, about two miles below Hurricane Ridge. A total of three sites along the road have been reduced to one lane.
The damage was initially caused by a major slide near the Switchback Trail that brought mud and debris onto the road. The slide caused water to overflow the road, leading to extensive erosion and slumping along the downhill edge.
Other parts of the park also remain closed as cleanup from the storm continues.
“Park crews are stretched very thin by this most recent storm, but are working throughout the park to restore access as soon it’s safe to do so,” says Superintendent Laitner.
Here's an update of conditions across Olympic National Park:
Sol Duc Valley – The Sol Duc Road remains closed due to a mudslide about a half-mile south of Salmon Cascades, along with downed trees.
Hoh Road – The Hoh Road is closed at milepost 7.8 within Jefferson County (outside the park boundary) where one lane of the road was washed out. Minor damage has also occurred within the park.
Queets – The Queets Road is closed due to water damage and downed trees. The park road crew is working this week to restore access to the Queets.
Quinault Valley – The North Shore Road is open from the Highway 101 intersection to just past the Clark Spur Road. Beyond that point the road is closed to all traffic due to downed trees and other damage. The South Shore Quinault Road is closed at the park boundary; 400 feet of roadway were washed away by the December 3 flooding and many trees are down. The Graves Creek Road is closed with severe damage at six locations, including areas where the road is completely gone. The North Fork Road is littered with downed trees and remains closed.
Staircase – While the Staircase area is closed for the winter season, park crews have made an initial damage assessment. The Staircase access road outside the park boundary is covered with gravel and debris as a result of last week’s storm and flooding. Within the park, both the Staircase Road and Staircase Campground sustained damage from flooding along the North Fork Skokomish River.
The Elwha, Lake Crescent, Mora and Ozette areas are open. Visitors are urged to use caution when traveling through the park and to come prepared for a variety of weather conditions, along with damaged trails and downed trees.
Groups and individuals interested in volunteering to help the park with storm recovery are urged to check the park’s website. Once damage assessments are complete, volunteer opportunities will be posted on the park’s volunteer page.
For current road information, people should call the Olympic National Park recorded road and weather information line at 360-565-3131.