Major renovation to begin on Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, which gets about 170,000 visitors a year, was closed, with temporary quarters provided, beginning today for its first major renovation project in a half-century, park officials announced Thursday.

A trailer set up in the parking lot and temporary restrooms installed there will serve visitors’ needs until the $1.14 million project is completed by May 25, Rainey McKenna, a park spokeswoman, said Thursday.

Restrooms will be expanded and 6-decade-old interpretive displays replaced at the facility, built in 1963 and located at the end of Upper Hoh Road in the western portion of the park south of Forks.

Work will begin Monday on the renovation. The National Park Service awarded the contract to Tactical Constructors Corp. and NLC General Inc. Joint Venture of Fife.

During the renovation, an interpretive trail adjacent to the facility will remain open, and the 0.8-mile Hall of Mosses Trail, 1.2-mile Spruce Nature and 17.3-mile Hoh River Trail to Glacier Meadows will remain accessible from their present locations near the center.

The center includes a vast elk diorama that will be removed and stored in the park’s historic collection, park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said Thursday.

New exhibits

All the existing exhibits will be replaced.

“The purpose of this is to renovate it and make it more accessible and efficient in terms of visitors we get today,” Maynes said.

“The exhibits will be new and be currently reflective about ecosystems and new scientific discoveries.”

The building’s electrical, data-connection and heating-ventilation-air-conditioning system also will be upgraded, and the facility will be modified for accessibility under the requirements of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.

Although the building’s footprint will remain the same, a new roof and energy-efficient windows will be installed, the information desk will be enlarged, and a storeroom will be turned into an office, Maynes said.

The 88-site camping area includes fire pits with grates, picnic tables, potable water and a fee-accessible dump station for recreational vehicles.

Temporary visitor center

The temporary visitor center will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Sept. 30.

Hours will be reduced to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays from Oct. 2-19.

Hours will be further reduced to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays beginning Oct. 24.

The visitor center is located about 31 miles south of Forks off U.S. Highway 101.

The center provides visitors with information and exhibits about visiting the Olympic Peninsula’s West End, including park coastal and rainforest areas.

Over the years, replacements and minor upgrades have been made to carpeting and light fixtures, but this will be the first large-scale renovation.

The Hoh Rain Forest gets 12 to 14 feet of precipitation a year, resulting in a lush green landscape that has made the area one of the park’s most popular attractions.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 04. 2014 5:52PM
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