Campers and Hikers Reminded to Keep Food Safe

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Date: June 11, 2009
Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005

With snow melting rapidly in the park’s high country and people gearing up for summer hikes, Olympic National Park staff reminds hikers and backpackers to be prepared for safe food storage in the Olympic National Park wilderness.

Many of the park’s popular backpacking destinations are also frequented by black bears and other wildlife. In order to stay safe, visitors must be ready and able to keep their food, garbage and all scented articles away from wildlife. “

Keeping human food away from bears and other wildlife is one of the most important things we can do to keep both people and animals safe,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin. “Proper storage of food, garbage and scented items is essential for anyone camping, hiking or just enjoying the park.”


Food storage guidelines are outlined below.

  • Except in areas where more specific regulations apply, all food, garbage, and scented items such as toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, toiletries, and chapstick, must be stored in bear canisters, hung from park bear wires, or hung at least 12 feet high and 10 feet out from the nearest tree trunk.
  • Bears and most other wildlife are active 24 hours a day; have all food and scented items secured 24 hours a day whenever they are not being used.
  • New this year, bear canisters are now required in the Sol Duc/Seven Lakes Basin area to include all camps adjacent to and enclosed by the Deer Lake Trail, High Divide Trail, and Sol Duc River Trail (High Divide Loop), and adjacent camps along the Mink Lake Trail, East High Divide Trail, and Cat Basin area.
  • Bear canisters are required in the Royal Lake/Royal Basin area.
  • On the coast, where raccoons have learned how to rob food bags, hard-sided food containers like bear canisters are required for all food, garbage and scented items.
  • In addition to the areas listed above, bear canisters are required in all areas where food cannot be hung at least 12 feet high and 10 feet out from the nearest tree trunk.
  • Visitors camping in the park’s road-accessed campgrounds must also take steps to protect food from wildlife and are required to store all food and scented items in a car trunk or one of the onsite animal-proof food storage lockers when not in use. Food, dishes, garbage or other strongly scented items should never be left unattended in campsites, picnic areas or housing areas. Campsites and other human use areas should be kept clean 24 hours a day.

Additional Trip Planning and Preparation Tips


Any trip into the Olympic wilderness requires advance planning and preparation. Currently, early season conditions, including snow cover above 3,000 feet, fallen trees and other winter storm damage, exist throughout the park.


Hikers and stock users should always check for current trail conditions online or call the Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100.


The park’s website also contains extensive wilderness trip planning information, including information on where to find and how to use bear canisters, trail descriptions, safety information and much more.


The park’s Wilderness Information Center (WIC) is located within the Olympic National Park Visitor Center, and offers extended hours for hikers at a window in the rear of the building from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Beginning June 19, the WIC will be open from 7:30 a.m. through 6:00 p.m., with extended hours (through 7:00 p.m.) through 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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600 E. Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362


(360) 565-3130

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