In light of the spread of COVID-19, trying to find out what is open and closed in our national parks is a moving target these days. The National Park Service is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local public health authorities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make its decisions on what to keep open or to close on a daily basis.
Olympic National Park Amid COVID-19
By Tori Peglar
Olympic National Park, in response to the Stay Home, Stay Safe Proclamation 20-25 and Proclamation 20-05 issued by the governor off Washington, is modifying operations to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
As of March 24, 2020, Olympic National Park will offer no services outside those that support visitor or resource protection. At Olympic National Park, the following services and operations will be suspended through at least April 6, 2020, in order to comply with the state order:
- Most park roads are closed at the park boundary. These temporary closures include Staircase Road; Hurricane Ridge Road; Ozette Road; Mora Road; Upper Hoh Road; Lower and Upper Queets roads; and North Fork and Graves Creek roads in the Quinault Valley. The Olympic Hot Springs Road and Whiskey Bend Road in the Elwha Valley are closed to vehicles at the Madison Falls parking area due to the washout of Olympic Hot Springs Road. Sol Duc, Deer Park, Obstruction Point, and Hurricane Hill roads have not opened for the season and remain closed at this time.
- All overnight camping, including in wilderness, is currently suspended. All drive-in park campgrounds are closed including: Staircase, Heart O’ the Hills, Ozette, Mora, Hoh, Kalaloch, Queets, North Fork, and Graves Creek. Deer Park, Fairholme, Sol Duc, and South Beach . With this closure, it is important to remember that no other areas in the park are authorized for camping.
- To make changes to or cancel existing wilderness permit reservations affected by this closure, please contact the Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100 (Option 4) or email Olym_WIC@nps.gov.
- All public facilities including visitor centers, contact stations, and restrooms are closed.
Kalaloch Lodge, Creekside Restaurant and The Mercantile will be closed as of March 23. Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, Campground and RV Park and Sol Duc Road have delayed opening until April 24.
The Quileute Tribe has closed the Quileute Reservation to the general public until further notice. This closure includes the Third Beach Trailhead is outside of this closure and remains open. If you have made a reservation for Second Beach and would like to make changes or cancel it, please contact the Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100 (Option 4) or email.
The Makah Tribe closed the Shi Shi Beach Trailhead to the general public until further notice. There will be no access to Shi Shi Beach from the north. For more information on the closure, please visit the website for the Makah Tribe (https://makah.com/). If you have made a reservation for Shi Shi Beach and would like to make changes or cancel it, please contact the Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100 (Option 4) or email.
Self-registration boxes may be empty. Stop at WIC in Port Angeles or South Shore Quinault Ranger Station to obtain a Wilderness Camping Permit and bear canisters.Ozette Ranger Station does NOT issue permits or bear canisters.
Olympic National Park Visitor Center & Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles, the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, and the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center are temporarily closed. With the closing of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, winter operations at Hurricane Ridge have ended as of March 17. The Hurricane Ridge Road is closed above the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station. Updates will be posted to the park website and social media channels.
Visitors can call the information line at (360) 565-3130 with general park questions or email the park on the popup form at www.nps.gov/olym/contacts.htm. Wilderness Information Center staff are available by phone at (360)565-3100 for questions about backpacking permits and reservations. Current road, campground, and weather information is also available by calling the park’s recorded line at (360) 565-3131, which is updated daily.
Where it is possible to adhere to the latest health guidance, Olympic National Park’s entrances, hiking trails, and campgrounds will remain open. Park visitors are asked to purchase their park passes online at www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74290. For information and updates on park lodges and restaurants, please check the website for Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, Sol Duc Hot Springs RV & Campground, Lake Crescent Lodge and Log Cabin Resort at www.olympicnationalparks.com/alerts/2020/covid-19-guest-updates as well as Kalaloch Lodge at www.thekalalochlodge.com/covid-19-updates.
For up-to-date information on Olympic National Park, visit www.nps.gov/olym/learn/news/index.htm
For campground alerts, reservations and more for Mora, Kalaloch Sol Duc Hot Springs campgrounds, go to www.recreation.gov/camping/gateways/2881
Follow Olympic National Park on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OlympicNPS/
Olympic National Forest Temporarily Closes All Developed Recreation Sites
In addition, the Olympic National Forest has temporarily closed all developed recreation sites. To align with Governor Inslee’s Executive Order directing people to stay home to save lives, effective March 27, 2020, all Olympic National Forest developed recreation sites will be closed through April 8, 2020; or until, such measures are lifted.
Recreation closures include trailheads, day use areas, campsites, cabins and picnic sites. Reservations cannot be made at this time. Existing reservation holders will be notified via email and/or cell phone text messages, if there are any changes affecting their reservation. Refunds will be issued for cancelled reservations.
Olympic National Forest officials urge people to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and avoid putting undue pressure on medical and law enforcement services; so that, everyone can return to outdoor adventures as soon as it is deemed safe to do so. These closures are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
The latest updates and information can be found online athttps://www.fs.usda.gov/main/olympic/home. Forest Service offices are currently providing virtual services and staff are available to answer questions by phone or email, during business hours which can be found here.
Mount Rainier National Park Amid COVID-19
As of March 24, 2020, Mount Rainier National Park is shutting down all park roads to vehicle access, including cars, buses, motorcycles and non-motorized vehicles such as bicycles. The Nisqually Entrance/Road is also closed to pedestrian traffic. All park visitor centers, the National Park Inn and gift shop and restrooms are closed. Access to the Carbon River area remains closed due to the washout of the Fairfax Forest Reserve Road.
The park backcountry is accessible for dispersed recreation such as hiking and winter camping.
Learn more updates here at https://www.nps.gov/mora/learn/news/index.htm
Follow @MountRainierNPS on Twitter (twitter.com/MountRainierNPS) for winter access updates.
For Cougar Rock Campground, Cougar Rock Group Campground, Ohanapecosh Campground and Ohanapecosh Group Campground alerts, reservations and more for campgrounds, go to www.recreation.gov/camping/gateways/2835
Follow Mount Rainier National Park on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MountRainierNPS/
Other National Parks and National Park Sites
The National Park Service has been updating its COVID-19 page daily with information about individual parks. You can visit it here: www.nps.gov/aboutus/news/public-health-update.htm
Updates about nationwide NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.
National Park Service to Temporarily Suspend Park Entrance Fees: www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/national-park-service-to-temporarily-suspend-park-entrance-fees.htm
National Park Service Is Modifying Operations to Implement Latest Health Guidance www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/statmentonparkopscovid19.htm