Opening For Spring is a Struggle at Olympic National Park

Little by little Olympic National Park is opening for the spring season. Elwha River photo by John Woods, NPS.

Last fall's storms and this past winter's snows are slowing the opening of Olympic National Park this spring. But little by little the park's various areas are opening. That said, before you head out you might want to call the park to check on conditions.

Here's the latest report on area openings at Olympic:

Quinault Rain Forest

The North Fork Road and campground both reopened on Friday, April 25, after a nearly five-month storm damage closure. The Graves Creek Road also opened on April 25, but for foot, stock and bicycle use only. The Graves Creek campground is also open; no potable water is available. The road will remain closed to vehicle use throughout the 2008 visitor season.

Queets Valley

The Lower Queets Road is open seven miles to Matheny Creek, but has been closed beyond that point since 2005 due to a landslide. Opening of the alternative access route into the Upper Queets Valley has been delayed due to low elevation snow and saturated soils that have significantly hindered the final stages of road work. Access to the Upper Queets area is now scheduled to open on Friday, May 9.

The Queets campground and nearby boat launch are still scheduled to open on May 16.

Staircase

The Staircase Road is closed for the season and will likely open later than typically scheduled. The road sustained major damage during the December storm, both within and outside of the park boundary. The Staircase Campground was also damaged, with several riverside sites completely washed away. Staff from Olympic National Park continues to work closely with Olympic National Forest personnel to reopen the road by late June or early July.

Hurricane Ridge Area

Work began last week on a seven-month project to restore and rehabilitate the Hurricane Ridge Road; construction-related delays and restrictions will not be necessary until May 5. The road is currently scheduled to be open Friday through Sunday through this Sunday, May 4. Weather permitting, the road will open daily for the summer season (24 hours a day) on May 5. Winter weather remains a significant factor however, with nine new inches of snow recorded overnight at Hurricane Ridge and 129 inches on the ground.

Effective Monday, May 5, and continuing through mid-October, bicycles will be prohibited from using all sections of the road above the Heart O’ the Hills Campground.

Motorists should expect up to four miles of unpaved roadway during this time. On weekdays, delays of up to 30 minutes each way should be expected. Weekend work is not scheduled at this time, but may be added at any time if needed. Excavation beneath the road bed will begin during this time, allowing for installation of new sub-grade culverts and improved drainage under the road.

The Olympic National Park Visitor Center will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., beginning this Thursday, May 1. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center will be open and staffed on weekends during the spring, beginning this Saturday, May 3.

The Heart O’the Hills Campground is open for the season.

Sol Duc Valley

Late-lingering deep snow has delayed opening of the Sol Duc Campground until Friday, May 23. Two feet of snow remain at the campground.

The Sol Duc Road is now open to the trailhead, although visitors should expect two feet of snow at that location too.

Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center & Forks Information Center

The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center will begin its spring schedule on Friday, May 2; beginning that day, the visitor center will be open from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Thursdays through Mondays.

The Park and Forest Information Center in Forks will also begin spring hours on Friday, May 2, and will also be open Thursdays through Mondays. It will be open from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Coastal Destinations

Olympic’s road-accessible coastal destinations (Kalaloch, Mora, Ozette) are open, including all roads, campgrounds and trailheads. Coastal trails and wilderness travel routes have not been fully assessed, so hikers should use caution and be prepared for washouts.

The Kalaloch Information Station will begin spring hours on May 10, when it will be open five days a week (Friday – Tuesday) from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Lake Crescent

All roads in the Lake Crescent area are open. The Fairholme Campground and the LaPoel Picnic Area are open for the season.

Elwha Valley

All roads in the Elwha Valley are open. The Elwha Campground is open; the Altair Campground will open on May 23.

Deer Park Road

The Deer Park Road is closed for the season and is scheduled to open for the summer on June 13. However, this year’s snow pack at Deer Park is 166 percent of average; heavy snow and a late spring melt may lead to delayed openings for some high elevation roads, including Deer Park, Obstruction Point and the Hurricane Hill Road.

Dosewallips Road

The Dosewallips Road remains closed because of a washout outside the park boundary.

Park Trails & Wilderness Information Center

With over ten feet of snow at the park’s higher elevations, little is known about many of the park’s trail conditions. More information will be available once snow begins to melt later in the season.

The Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (WIC) is open daily from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Expanded hours (7:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.) will begin on May 7, except for Sundays when the WIC will be open from 8:00 – 4:00. Visitors are urged to stop by or call the WIC at 360-565-3100 for current trail reports, spring hiking safety tips and trip planning suggestions.