Portions of Olympic National Park reopen today

Creachbaum: ‘We will start with Lake Crescent and Sol Duc Road’

Sarah Creachbaum

Sarah Creachbaum

PORT ANGELES — Many portions of Lake Crescent and the Sol Duc Road will reopen today in the northern portion of Olympic National Park, with more park locations and facilities expected to resume operations this summer.

“After being closed for a good, long time, we are starting to reopen some facilities in concert and in conversation with [Clallam County Health Officer] Dr. Allison Unthank, as well as public health officers in the three counties surrounding the park, Jefferson, Mason and Grays Harbor,” said ONP Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum during a Zoom meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Port Angeles on Thursday.

Creachbaum said ONP would follow social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks in public places.

“We will require face masks in most places, but we don’t have a mechanism for enforcement yet,” Creachbaum said.

The park closed to the public April 10.

The northern part of the park is being reopened first.

“Port Angeles and Sequim are communities of a size that we feel can absorb a little bit more of the outside communities coming in as opposed to Forks, which only has the one grocery store, the Thriftway,” Creachbaum said. “We will start with Lake Crescent and Sol Duc Road, and if that goes OK, we will start on the east side and move around to the west side last.”

Opening today are the Barnes Point area, including East Beach, Bovee’s Meadow and the bathrooms and comfort station at the Storm King Boat Launch. Restrooms at La Poel and Sol Duc and at the Sol Duc Road pullout, where the interpretive sign is, and at the Salmon Cascades will be open.

The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort will remain closed.

Creachbaum wasn’t sure if the Heart O’ the Forest Trail would be ready by today but expects that trail, which provides access to the Lake Angeles Trailhead, to reopen soon.

Park lodging and concessions will remain closed for the time being.

“Our dates for opening concessions are in late May, and I wouldn’t be surprised if those dates are pushed back a little bit,” Creachbaum said.

She expects grab-and-go food service to resume first, with limited food service following later this summer.

Reopening access to Hurricane Ridge also is a ways off, Creachbaum said.

“A lot of snow up there right now, and we also are trying to figure out how we can have folks access the restrooms,” Creachbaum said. “It’s tricky, with that building [Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center] because we kind of funnel people downstairs, and it can get busy by the doors. I think it will be several weeks, if not longer, for the Ridge.”

The west side of the park, including the Pacific beaches, will be among the last areas to reopen, park officials have said.

Sourcing the needed amount of cleaning supplies, protective equipment and housing for seasonal employees in the face of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that limit the number of people who may be housed together is complicating matters, Creachbaum said.

“We may be able to open a campground or two this summer, and in late or mid-June maybe open up the backcountry,” she said.

“This is all incumbent on enough cleaning supplies and enough personnel. We have to have enough people to do search-and-rescue in the backcountry.”

Creachbaum said seasonal workers are “the backbone of ONP’s workforce.” The park doubles its number of employees during the summer months.

“[New CDC] guidelines of only having one person per room for houses or dormitories is severely limiting our ability to hire seasonal employees,” Creachbaum said.

“Seasonal employees are fairly technical jobs, so it would be difficult to use volunteers in a safe way, particularly during a pandemic with some of the things left behind by our visitors.”

Creachbaum cautioned that the park’s reopenings would follow federal and state directives and are contingent on equipment and staffing capabilities as well as the guidance of neighboring communities.

“We are not only syncing up with the governor’s proclamation, but also finding appropriate supplies and staff. We are hoping to get as much of the park open as possible, but only if our neighbors feel the same way.”

Creachbaum said shuttering park operations has been more taxing than actually operating the park.

“If I said the last couple of months at ONP have been easy, I would be lying,” Creachbaum said.

“It’s been quite an ordeal, a bit of a logistical nightmare.

“I find it funny, and it is true, that it is more work to run a closed park versus an open park.”


Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Dave Swinford of Sequim, left, and Marlana Ashlie of Victoria take part in a workshop on Saturday about cropping bird photos for best presentation during Saturday’s Olympic Birdfest. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Bird spotting

Dave Swinford of Sequim, left, and Marlana Ashlie of Victoria take part… Continue reading

Annette Nesse, at the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s main campus in Blyn in December 2021, is serving as interim director at the Dungeness River Nature Center, the organization announced. (Emily Matthiessen/for Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Nesse to serve as interim director at River Center

New position to begin May 1; organization will continue its full-time search

Sequim Wheelers, seen on the historic Railroad Bridge near the Dungeness River Nature Center, prep for a ride on the Olympic Discovery Trail. The nonprofit's season begins in May, and it has an open house for potential new volunteers on April 20 at the River Center. It also has an orientation for new volunteers on April 25 at the River Center. (Sequim Wheelers)
Sequim Wheelers gearing up for 2024 rides, seek recruits

Nonprofit looking for help during for 20-week season

Ashlynn Emiliani of Port Angeles, center, tosses woody debris into a pile for collection as volunteers work to clean up a section of hillside above the parking lot of the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles on Saturday. More than a dozen members of Elevate PA spent the morning clearing up overgrown areas on the hillside from Haynes Viewpoint to the hotel’s Front Street driveway as part of a city beautification effort. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Hillside cleanup in Port Angeles

Ashlynn Emiliani of Port Angeles, center, tosses woody debris into a pile… Continue reading

Weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft… Continue reading

Operations set at Bentinck range

The Royal Canadian Navy has announced that the land-based… Continue reading

Pictured, from left, are Wolfe, May, Reader and Emily Fry.
May recognized with BEE award from medical center

Reuben May has received a BEE award from Olympic Medical Center. The… Continue reading

Schools open following contract

PAPEA, district reach tentative agreement

Port Angeles School Superintendent Marty Brewer, second from right, speaks with members of the Port Angeles Parents for Education, on Friday about the Port Angeles Paraeducation Association strike. Assistant Superintendent Michele Olsen stands at right. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)
District, PAPEA to pick up bargaining Sunday

Parent group presses officials for answers on strike

Instructor Josh Taylor, left, points out the workings of an electric vehicle on Wednesday at the Auto Technology Certification Program at Peninsula College. Nick Schommer, center, and Brian Selk get ready to do some testing on the electric auto’s parts from underneath the vehicle. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
College’s automotive technology program gets a reboot

Students can earn a certificate separate from two-year degree

Port Townsend transportation tax dollars to be put to work

Benefits district to raise $400,000 to $600,000 in first year