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Contact: Park Dispatch, 360-569-6600
Contact: Chuck Young, Chief Ranger, 360-569-6612
Westside Road, in Mount Rainier National Park, near the park's southwest entrance, has been closed to the public until further notice due to a rockfall involving truck-sized boulders that occurred sometime prior to Thursday, May 14. On Thursday afternoon, a park resource management crew returning from a multi-night monitoring trip found that a rockfall, involving numerous large boulders had occurred on the Westside Road at the Dry Creek public parking area. 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. 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 three feet deep, were created in the road by the impact of the falling boulders. The rockfall originated on Mount Wow, which towers above the Westside Road.
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.
Until that time, for safety reasons, the public will be required to stay off Westside Road. The park will announce when the road is reopened for public use.