A boulder fall at Mount Rainier National Park has forced the temporary closure of the Westside Road, where a private vehicle was crushed by a rock and another boulder left a crater 8 feet in diameter in the road surface.
Park officials guess the rockfall occurred sometime prior to Thursday, when a park crew came upon it. The Westside Road is located in the southwest corner of the park, near the Nisqually Entrance.
"A private vehicle that had been parked there suffered total damage when one of the boulders apparently hit it squarely on the driver's side, severely damaging the vehicle and pushing it nearly over the edge of the roadway," a park release said, adding that, "The vehicle was unoccupied and the rockfall was unwitnessed."
"Numerous large boulders, one larger than a truck, were strewn over the parking area and road, and some of the boulders hit the road and continued moving until coming to rest in the bed of Tahoma Creek. Large craters, one at least eight feet in diameter and 3 feet deep, were created in the road by the impact of the falling boulders (see attached photos). The rockfall originated on Mount Wow, which towers above the Westside Road," the release said. "In addition to the damage caused to the private vehicle, a park gate and welded steel rock separation box which is located in the area were severely damaged. The park's geomorphologist and his crew are assessing the cause and the likelihood of additional rockfall in the area. Once it can be ascertained that park crews can safely enter the area to work, they will remove the boulders, repair the road and gate prior to reopening the road back up to the public."