The annual national park visitation statistics for 2020 are in: Olympic maintained its standing as #9 on the list of the 10 Most Visited National Parks with 2.5 million visitors(3.2 million in 2019). Overall, national parks hosted 237 million visitors in 2020, a 28%decrease from the previous year due largely to temporary park closures and restrictions implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Annual Visitation highlights and the National news release
• Big Cedar Road at Kalaloch is expected to be closed to all vehicle traffic from March 15- 18 to complete critical road repairs.
• Heart O’ the Hills Entrance Station Project: The project to redesign the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station area on Hurricane Ridge Road to facilitate traffic flow is set to begin closer to the end of March and be completed by fall 2021. This project also includes the installation of a permanent variable message sign near the Hurricane Ridge Parkway/Mount Angeles Road junction to provide wait time information/road conditions, etc. A temporary fee kiosk just below Lake Dawn Road will be in operation through the summer. Expect delays for alternating single-lane traffic through the construction zone.
• Upper Hoh Road construction project outside park boundary (Federal Highways andJefferson County) Expected completion in fall of 2023. The contractor is beginning mobilization of equipment this week and next week.No Delays are expected.
Clearing and operations will begin between MP 4.5 and MP 10 on Monday,March 15, and continue through March 30. One to 2 flagging setups will be in effect at these locations during the day, the road will be fully re-opened during non-working hours. Delays are expected to minimal.
There will be a pause in work until May when the bridge work at MP 10 Canyon Creek is expected to begin. More details as we get closer, but this work is expected to involve temporary traffic signals that will operate 24/7 to maintain asingle-lane traffic closure as the work is completed.
• Spruce Railroad Trail- Both trailheads (Lyre River and Camp David Jr. Road) are open for use up to the tunnels on either side, but the trail remains closed between the tunnels for public safety until the estimated 3,000 cubic yards of soil and debris from a landslide in early January can be cleared. The park has secured the funding to complete the work which will be handled by Bruch & Bruch when conditions permit. Reminder: East Beach Road remains closed for public safety. Access to the Lyre River Trailhead is via Highway
112 and Joyce-Piedmont Road.
Concessions Updates: Upcoming opening dates for park lodges-
4/2/2021 – Kalaloch Lodge is reopening the restaurant take-out only(breakfast, lunch, and dinner). COVID-19 Updates (thekalalochlodge.com)
4/16/2021 – Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort and Campground & RV Park. The pool will be limited to guests only, with no pool use by day visitors. (Note: Sol Duc Road typically opens by late March depending on road conditions) COVID-19 Guest Updates (olympicnationalparks.com)
5/7/2021 – Lake Crescent Lodge and Hurricane Ridge Gift Shop. COVID-19 Guest Updates (olympicnationalparks.com)
5/21/2021 – Log Cabin Resort and Campground. COVID-19 Guest Updates (olympicnationalparks.com)
Wilderness backpacking reservations and permits will remain 100% online through recreation.gov as they were last year. Entrance passes are also available online atrecreation.gov.
Snowpack: March 1st snow surveys complete- Snowpack is currently well above normal (134%) for all currently available measurement sites. This is good news as the Climate Prediction Center is currently suggesting that late spring and summer months are likely to be warmer and drier than normal.
Speaking of snow…Hurricane Ridge Road is open, weather and road conditions permitting, Fridays-Sundays through March 28. Weekends are busy with the parking lot filling up by 9 a.m. On Fridays, the parking lot does not typically fill up. Even though the Ski, Snowboard & Tubing Area isn’t open on Fridays, Fridays are a great day to come up to snowshoe or cross-country ski.
Poma lift currently closed for repair. Check www.hurricaneridge.com for updates from the Hurricane Ridge Ski & Snowboard area.
Follow Hurricane Ridge Winter Access on Twitter for road updates (no account necessary).
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center as well as the Mountain View Cafe, Gift Shop & Rental Shop remain closed through this winter season. Restroom facilities are open. The exhibit space, tables, and warming area are closed so be prepared touse your vehicle as a warming area and pack extra food, water, dry clothing, and blankets and/or sleeping bags in your vehicle. For more information, visit the park website.
As always, visitors are urged to plan ahead, hike smart, pack the Ten Essentials, and have an emergency plan— even for a short day hike or snowshoe excursion.
Consider learning CPR and basic wilderness first aid, especially if you are planning to hike, ski, or snowshoe in the backcountry. Leaving an accurate itinerary with an emergency contact is a critical step for any trip in the backcountry.
As of Veterans Day 2020, Gold Star Families and U.S. military veterans now have free access to national parks. More information: Free Entrance to National Parks for Veterans and Gold Star Families (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
Every Kid Outdoors: Free pass for U.S. 4th graders, valid for the duration of the 4th grade school year through the following summer (September-August). This year, 5th graders have free access to Interior public lands through August 2021 due to park closures last year. Learn more at the Every Kid Outdoors website.
When planning a visit to Olympic, be sure to check out the Alerts & Conditions information on the park website at www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/conditions.htm and call the recorded Road & Weather line at 360-565-3131 (updated daily).
Whether you’re planning to backpack, snowshoe, ski, or take a day hike, please remember to Recreate Responsibly. Follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and practice Leave No Trace principles when you visit.
1. Know before you go. Visit NPS.gov/findapark for current park conditions and availability of restrooms and other facilities. Make a plan, follow the 10 Essentials, and if you are sick, stay home.
2. Keep it close. Follow state, tribal, and local orders of where you’re traveling. The NPS is working closely with public health professionals to make operational changes and adapt to changing conditions.
3. Keep your distance. Follow the CDC’s social distancing guidelines and stay at least six feet away from other people. Wear a mask when you are near others—and always inside park buildings. 4. Know your limits. Postpone challenging hikes or trying new activities while first responders, parks, and communities continue to concentrate on responding to the pandemic.
5. Keep it with you. If you brought it, take it with you. Trash pickup and restroom facilities will continue to be limited in many park areas. Follow Leave No Trace principles.
6. Keep it inclusive. Be an active part of making our nation’s parks and public lands safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities