Source: Olympic National Park
As the weather transitions to spring, staff at Olympic National Park are turning their attention to spring cleaning and preparations for the main visitor season. “Spring is a great time to experience Olympic National Park and we invite people to come out and enjoy the warmer temperatures and sunshine,” said Olympic National Park Acting Superintendent Todd Suess.
“While the park’s higher elevations are still buried under many feet of snow, new leaves and early wildflowers are emerging along lowland trails and roads.” Many of Olympic’s facilities will be open in time for National Park Week, April 21 through 29.
Free entry at all park entrances will be offered that week; special activities are also scheduled, including Junior Ranger Day on April 28 and the Washington Coast Cleanup on April 21.
Park facilities are scheduled to open in phased fashion as maintenance crews work their way through the park’s 16 campgrounds and 140 miles of paved and gravel roads, clearing fallen and hazardous trees from campsites and other public use areas, sweeping winter debris from roads, clearing drainage ditches and culverts and de-winterizing water systems.
“Even relatively mild winters bring debris and trees that need to be cleared so visitors with tents and RVs can use campsites and picnic tables,” explained Suess. And while winter has been mild in the lowlands, snowfall in the mountains has been greater than normal.
Nearly 12 feet of snow cover the ground at Hurricane Ridge, and as of April 1, the snowpack in the Olympic Mountains was approximately 160 percent of average.
“Given the heavy snow pack and weather projections that forecast another cool spring, we must reluctantly anticipate a later than normal opening for high country roads and trails,” remarked Suess.
An update on the spring and summer seasons at Olympic National Park follows.
Staircase The Staircase Campground is open for primitive camping (pit toilets and no running water.) Drinking water and flush toilets will be activated by May 25. Dosewallips The Dosewallips Road remains closed due to a washout outside the park boundaries in Olympic National Forest, so access to the primitive campground is walk-in (5.5 miles) only.
Deer Park This winter’s heavy snowpack will contribute to a later than normal opening for the Deer Park Road and campground – both are scheduled to open in mid-July, snow permitting. If conditions allow, Deer Park may open earlier than scheduled.
Hurricane Ridge and Heart O’ the Hills Hurricane Ridge Road is currently open as staffing, road and weather conditions permitting. Beginning May 1, the road typically is open 24 hours a day, but late spring snow storms may close the road temporarily. The last 1.5 mile of the road, which leads to the Hurricane Ridge picnic area and Hurricane Hill trailhead and is covered with snows drifts well over 12 feet deep, is expected to open by mid-June. Obstruction Point Road is also expected to open later than normal this year, with a mid-July opening predicted. If conditions allow, the Obstruction Point Road may open earlier than scheduled. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is staffed weekends through June 17 and will be staffed daily beginning June 18. The Olympic National Park Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Heart O’ the Hills Campground is open year-round.
Elwha Valley The Olympic Hot Springs Road is closed just beyond the Altair Campground to allow safe removal of the Glines Canyon Dam. Until dam removal is over (anticipated by late 2013), there is no access to Olympic Hot Springs from the Elwha Valley. Whiskey Bend Road is open. The Elwha Campground is open, and Altair Campground will open May 22.
Lake Crescent Fairholme Campground will open on April 20. Lake Crescent Lodge will open on May 3; an opening date for the Log Cabin Resort has not been announced. Fairholme General Store will open on May 25.
Sol Duc Valley Sol Duc Road, Sol Duc Campground and the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort are all open for the season. Hoh Rain Forest & Forks Information Center The Hoh Road and campground are open. The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is open Friday through Tuesday through April 30 and will be open daily beginning Friday, May 4. The Park and Forest Information Center in Forks is open Friday through Monday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will be open daily beginning June 18.
Pacific Coast Kalaloch, Mora and Ozette—Olympic National Park’s road-accessible coastal destinations—are all open. The Kalaloch, Mora and Ozette campgrounds are open. South Beach Campground, located just south of Kalaloch, will open May 22. Visitors hiking portions of the Pacific coast should check with the Wilderness Information Center for current trail and tide conditions. The Kalaloch Information Station will open daily on May 12. Kalaloch Lodge is open year-round.
Queets Valley The Lower Queets Road is open seven miles to Matheny Creek; the Upper Queets Road is also open. The Queets Campground is open for primitive camping.
Quinault Rain Forest The Quinault Loop Road, which includes the Quinault North Shore and South Shore Roads, is open. The North Fork Road and North Fork campground (primitive camping) are open. The Graves Creek Road and campground are open; drinking water and flush toilets at Graves Creek campground will be activated by May 15. Park Trails & Wilderness Information Center Visitors are encouraged to stop by or call the Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100 for current trail reports, spring hiking safety tips and trip planning suggestions. Information is also available at the park’s website. Deep snow remains at elevations above 2,000 to 2,500 feet. Even at low elevations, hikers are reminded to use caution and be aware of downed trees, trail damage, high and swift creek crossings, and changing weather conditions.
The Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (WIC), located at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles is open daily from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.