Heavy rains on Monday and Tuesday caused river bank erosion on the Elwha River, forcing the closure of the Madison Falls parking area and the valley at the Olympic National Park boundary. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Heavy rains on Monday and Tuesday caused river bank erosion on the Elwha River, forcing the closure of the Madison Falls parking area and the valley at the Olympic National Park boundary. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Elwha Valley access closed at Madison Falls

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — The Elwha Valley, including the Madison Falls parking area, is closed to the public at the Olympic National Park boundary, the park announced Wednesday.

Heavy rains Monday and Tuesday led to flooding and river bank erosion on the Elwha River near the Madison Falls parking area on Olympic Hot Springs Road, said Penny Wagner, park spokeswoman.

The closure will continue for two to three weeks, she said, while the park road crew completes the work needed to protect the road from being undercut by further erosion.

The recent storm dropped 7 to 8 inches of rain and increased flows which peaked at roughly 12,000 cubic feet per second, Wagner said.

The repair is estimated to cost $60,000 for the materials, equipment, and labor.

The park is in the planning process for the future of the Olympic Hot Springs Road to address long-term, sustainable access, Wagner said.

The first step was an environmental assessment (EA) for a geotechnical investigation to determine the engineering feasibility of a potential road relocation at the Elwha Campground.

The area has been washed out by the Elwha River since it was freed from two dams, which were removed ending in 2014.

The EA was completed and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was released in late September.

Initial monitoring results have indicated that relocating the one-mile section of road between Sander’s Creek and the Elwha Ranger Station would be feasible, Wagner said.

Monitoring and data collection will continue into next year.

The next step is to analyze the potential road relocation, along with additional alternatives, in a separate EA.

The upcoming EA will analyze various options including a no action (current management) alternative, modifying the current roadway, or relocating it outside the floodplain, one of which will be implemented in 2020-21.

This week’s storm event also resulted in additional road closures across the park.

The Upper and Lower Queets Road was closed due to high winds and downed trees and the Quinault North Shore Road was closed Monday near the 900 block due to a downed tree and power lines across the road.

The Upper Queets Road has now reopened to the campground and North Shore Road was cleared and opened. Lower Queets Road remains closed for additional clearing.

For current road and travel information, see www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm or call 360-565-3131.

Olympic National Park officials announced the closure of the Elwha Valley and the Madison Falls parking area Wednesday following erosion that has come close to the roadway. (Olympic National Park)

Olympic National Park officials announced the closure of the Elwha Valley and the Madison Falls parking area Wednesday following erosion that has come close to the roadway. (Olympic National Park)

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