Olympic Newsletter May 2010

view of mountains with evergreen trees in foreground; blue sky

Olympic National Park Photo

Olympic National Park Open for Summer Season

Nearly all Olympic National Park destinations are now open to park visitors, just in time for Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer.

Several road construction and repair projects have been scheduled within Olympic National Park this summer. These projects will improve visitor access and safety within the park, but may cause some temporary delays and challenges for visitors, area residents and park staff. Due to weather conditions on the Olympic Peninsula, roadwork is generally completed during the warmer and drier summer months.

Pavement repairs are scheduled on Route 101 near Lake Crescent for June 1-9 between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily. Motorists could expect 15-minute delays and one-lane traffic while the repairs are being completed. Electronic message boards, to be placed along Route 101 at Laird’s Corner east of the lake and Sappho on the west, will also advise motorists of a 12.2-mile detour through the park.

Listed below is the latest information on popular sites within the park.

The Staircase Campground remains open. Road access to the campground reopened May 14.

Visitors should also be aware that the Dosewallips Road remains closed due to a washout inside the park boundaries, so access to the campground is walk-in (5.5 miles) only.

Deer Park
The Deer Park campground is scheduled to open June 11, snow permitting.

Hurricane Ridge Road and Heart O’ the Hills
Hurricane Ridge Road will be open daily throughout the summer season, road and weather conditions permitting. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, as well as the snack bar and gift shop, are also open.

The Olympic National Park Visitor Center is currently open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; and will be open 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. beginning May 28; the visitor center will also stay open until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29.

The Wilderness Information Center is open daily from 7:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. The Wilderness Information Center will offer expanded hours of 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29.

The Heart O’ the Hills Campground is open year-round.

Elwha Valley
All roads in the Elwha Valley are open. The Elwha Campground remains open, and the Altair Campground will open on May 25.

Lake Crescent
Fairholme Campground and the Lake Crescent Lodge are now open. Log Cabin Resort is open on weekends only until June 17, when it will open seven days a week. The Fairholme General Store will open on Friday, May 21.

Sol Duc Valley
Sol Duc Road, the 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 daily from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. beginning May 21.

The Park and Forest Information Center in Forks is open Thursday through Monday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and will be open daily beginning June 18.

Pacific Coast
Kalaloch, Mora and Ozette—Kalaloch, Mora and Ozette—Olympic National Park’s road-accessible coastal destinations—are now open, including all roads, campgrounds and trailheads.

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 be open daily beginning Friday, May 21. Kalaloch Lodge remains open year-round. South Beach Campground, located just south of Kalaloch, will open May 28.

Queets Valley
The Lower Queets Road is open seven miles to Matheny Creek. An access route into the Upper Queets Valley is also open. Both roads are marked at their intersections with Highway 101.

The Queets Campground is open.

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 are open.

The Graves Creek Road and Campground are open.

Park Trails & Wilderness Information CenterVisitors 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.

Several feet of snow remains on the ground, beginning at elevations above 3,000 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) is open daily from 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and will be open extra hours for the holiday weekend on Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29 from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.


Help Support Olympic and Washington’s National Park Fund

Kick off your Memorial Day weekend in style while supporting Olympic National Park and Washington’s National Park Fund!

The Last Dam Summer Party, scheduled for May 27 from 7 to 10 p.m., will be held at the new Holiday Inn Express in Sequim. A benefit auction is also planned, which will allow party-goers to bid on prizes including trips, artwork and gift certificates to local restaurants.

Intended to benefit education, preservation and protection throughout the park, the event will also serve to raise awareness of the Elwha River Restoration project. The planned removal of two dams on the Elwha, scheduled to begin next year, represents the largest dam removal project in U.S. history and will set in motion one of the largest restoration efforts ever undertaken by the National Park Service.

Tickets for the event are $35, and include appetizers, dessert and drinks courtesy of the Olympic Culinary Loop Association as well as a performance by the band Therapy Session.

For more information or to reserve tickets, visit lastdamsummer.org.

-- Dave Reynolds

Sunlight shines through the canopy of the trees in the Hoh Rain Forest.

Olympic National Park photo

“Long Shadowed Days and Stellar Nights”

Each new month in the Hoh Valley brings with it a host of surprises, but none is as anticipated as the first succession of clear, early spring weather. Early spring in the Hoh is not determined by a particular calendar date. Here, it is loudly proclaimed by a number of living indicators—like skunk cabbage poking its yellow greenhouses up from the bogs, inverted urns of forest huckleberries being visited by bumblebees shaking off the morning’s chill, and the cacophony of Douglas squirrels scolding would-be intruders from the lower branches of trees. The list of signs of spring gets even longer if you take the time to look.

The arrival of spring invites a new perspective on this ancient forest. In mid-February the sun finally crests the southern ridge high enough to start warming the valley below. Just like opening a refrigerator door, the cold spills out of the lower valley while living things rejoice in its departure.

With the sun come spectacularly long shadows in the forest. Beams of ethereal sunlight leak through the canopy—creating iridescent islands amongst the mosses’ carpets and draperies, still sparkling wet with last night’s condensation. The enormous conifers paint spears of mysterious darkness and cast them unto the forest to add dramatic contrast to these brief, extravagant moments.

At night, the sky overflows with the light of stars and planets from the heavens. Light flows into the still waters of Taft Pond as if such beauty needed to be reflected. The resident beaver works another swing shift on its never-ending nocturnal landscaping project. Obsessively chewing through every red alder it can sink its teeth into, behaving as if alders were the sworn enemy of “beaverkind.”

On those spring days, with the sun finally strong enough to warm your face, you’ll find yourself searching for those sunglasses you put away somewhere last November. Skip mowing the grass, and come celebrate spring here. Come to the Hoh Valley, breath deep and rejoice with the other living things.

--Jon Preston, Hoh/Quinault Districts Lead Interpreter

A seagull begins to devour an octopus, which has washed ashore on Rialto Beach.

Photo by George Dobbs

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, Wash.—Park Ranger George Dobbs snapped this photo of a gull picking away at an octopus which had washed ashore on Rialto Beach on Olympic’s rugged Pacific coast. Dobbs, who works in the Wilderness Information Center at the Visitors’ Center, said the scene says a lot about the incredible diversity of the Olympic Peninsula. “I have been to pretty much every major national park in America—Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Olympic, Yosemite and nearly every one in between, and it really struck me when I saw this that Olympic is such a unique place, especially ecologically and biologically,” he said.

Last updated: March 19, 2018

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