November 7, 2013 at 5:08 PM
Take a look at the webcam for Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise and you’ll see that snow is starting to pile up at Mount Rainier National Park. As visions of snowshoes dance in park lover’s heads, park staffers are preparing for winter operations and visitors.
“Mount Rainier provides outstanding winter recreation opportunities and has been doing so for over 100 years,” Park Superintendent Randy King said in an email. “It’s a wonderful time to visit the park and area, provided visitors come well-prepared for the snow and road conditions. Safe backcountry travel in winter requires an especially high level of preparation, caution, and knowledge.”
The park will transition to winter hours of operation and service on Tuesday, Nov. 12. Here’s a roundup of what to expect all winter: (more…)
October 23, 2013 at 6:01 AM
Combine a fall-color drive over Satus Pass or up the Columbia River Gorge this weekend with a celebration of the night sky and the state observatory at Goldendale.
Goldendale Observatory State Park celebrates its 40th anniversary Saturday, with a farewell to retired longtime interpretive specialist Stephen Stout and a welcome to Troy Carpenter, who took up the post this summer. “Troy has a fun ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’ sort of way of turning complex scientific topics into something the average park visitor can understand,” says Ranger Andy Kallinen.
Kallinen said this is just the start of “polishing up” this gem of the park system, which got a recent allocation for improvements from the state Legislature.
The observatory’s 24-inch Cassegrain reflecting telescope was built in the early 1970s by four amateur astronomers from Vancouver, Wash., who ultimately donated it to the town of Goldendale, which built the observatory. Washington State Parks acquired it in 1980.
At 2 p.m. Saturday there will be cake and speeches, with a star party planned for that evening if the sky is clear.
October 17, 2013 at 10:28 AM
“When I put the flag up today it felt so good,” said Ranger Maureen McLean at Mount Rainier National Park, as Rainier and Washington’s other national parks reopened Thursday.
They were among hundreds of parks, monuments and historic sites across the nation reopening after the 16-day government shutdown.
Park gates and some visitor centers are open, but it might be a couple days before all is again running smoothly. At Rainier:
- Gates were open Thursday morning, with the normal $15 per vehicle admission fee. Paradise and Stevens Canyon roads are (more…)
October 1, 2013 at 12:58 PM
If you’re planning an outing to a National Forest or National Park, expect to find closed gates in many places, and good luck nailing down information on where you’re heading: Basically, staffers have almost all shut the doors and gone home, or aren’t answering phones, because of the federal government shutdown.
A phone call Tuesday to the Outdoor Recreation Information Center at Seattle’s REI store, usually a good source of information on both National Forests and National Parks, got this recorded message: “Because of the federal government shutdown we have been furloughed. We cannot check phone messages until the government reopens.”
National parks and their campgrounds are closed, and rangers are giving backcountry hikers and campers 48 hours to get out of the parks. Try to even check the Mount Rainier (more…)
August 27, 2013 at 4:18 PM
Looking for a day trip to entertain Labor Day visitors? When you’re done with Bumbershoot, head for Bainbridge Island, where the famed Bloedel Reserve public garden celebrates its 25th anniversary with the Friday opening of its first-ever outdoor sculpture exhibit.
The 150-acre garden, the former estate of timber baron Prentice Bloedel and his wife, Virginia, is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 gardens in the nation. The exhibit, entitled “An Experience: Sculpture in the Landscape,” features 12 unique pieces by Northwest sculptor Julie Speidel. The artworks will be installed throughout the grounds in key areas including the Moss Garden, Japanese Garden, and on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound. Speidel says she drew inspiration for the works from (more…)
August 14, 2013 at 10:26 AM
The Cascade Pass Trail in North Cascades National Park remains open despite a weekend road washout, but storm damage to that trail and others in the region remains under assessment by wilderness rangers. Hikers should be prepared for difficult going in places.
For access to Cascade Pass, one of the most popular hikes in the park, hikers must trek an added three miles from a closure point at Milepost 20 on the Cascade River Road, which was washed out by a flood of water and logs during a Sunday evening storm. The Cascade Pass Trail leads to Sahale Arm, Sahale Glacier and Stehekin backcountry such as Horseshoe Basin.
The washout created a chasm 60 feet wide and 15 feet deep where Boston Creek crosses the gravel road, preventing 70 hikers and their vehicles from exiting the area overnight and through most of Monday. They were able to drive out late Monday afternoon after National Park Service employees built a temporary gravel driving path. The temporary path is not considered reliable for use by other motorists, however.
Hikers are being allowed to park at the Eldorado Creek parking area and walk over the temporary path, said Rick Acosta, information officer for the national park. A park service engineer is evaluating a permanent fix, but it’s too soon to guess how long the road closure might last, Acosta said. No other repair work is going on yet, he said.
The Sunday storms and others over the weekend likely caused other damage in the park that hasn’t all been reported or evaluated. One of the trapped hikers, Victoria Jurgens, reported of her Sunday hike back to the Cascade Pass Trailhead: “The water was running down the trail so hard that it was sloshing up over the tops of my boots! It was pretty wild…We encountered (more…)
August 13, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Yes, we’ve had some rain around the state in recent days — even damaging deluges in places such as the North Cascades — but campers should be aware: The two-week-old ban on campfires in Washington’s state parks continues.
That’s puzzled some campers in places such as the Washington coast where it hasn’t seemed very dry. Here’s an excerpt from an email that came to me Friday night from a California visitor to a coastal state park:
“Tonight I write you from Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington, where it is 57 degrees at 98 percent humidity. According to another website, the fire danger is rated as ‘very low.’ Five hours inland, large wildfires may be raging, but you wouldn’t know it here, where mist-caused water drops pellet my van’s roof. Which prompts my question: Under what authority does Washington State make the idiotic demand all campfires cease?”
The authority comes from the Washington Administrative Code, Section 352-32-125, governing fires and campfires in state parks (boldface is my addition):
August 12, 2013 at 3:12 PM
Heavy rain and thunderstorms over the weekend took a double whammy at primary driving routes in the North Cascades, including a Sunday afternoon washout of the Cascade River Road, a key access to North Cascades National Park backcountry.
The washout, at Boston Creek, 1.5 miles below the popular Cascade Pass Trailhead, stranded 65 people in their cars overnight.
The same series of storms caused multiple landslides closing Highway 20 west of Rainy Pass (see story here).
National Park Service employees were at the Cascade River Road site Monday assisting stranded visitors, and a temporary one-lane road may be opened by day’s end to allow the 25 to 35 trapped vehicles to drive out, according to an email from Ken Hires, Stehekin District Interpreter for the park. Friends and family members of the stranded hikers have been (more…)
August 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM
In a new ranking of America’s 59 national parks, Washington’s three national parks all fall in the top 20.
To come up with the ranking, The Active Times website, oriented to the outdoors and adventure, used three criteria: biodiversity, range of visitor activities and the opinions of an expert panel.
The panel of experts included 17 writers, landscape photographers and travel professionals who write about and study national parks and spend much more time there than the average person. Among those who helped out were Kurt Repanshek, editor of National Parks Traveler, Michael Joseph Oswald, author of “Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 58 National Parks,“ and nature photographer QT Luoung, who’s captured every park on his large format camera and was featured in Ken Burns’ documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” Recently departed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also weighed in.
Here’s the top 20 in the ranking: (more…)
July 10, 2013 at 5:03 PM
If you’re Vancouver-bound, or if you just want to sample an internationally-flavored musical event, you might want to mark your calendar with a series of concerts happening this summer near the Peace Arch on the Washington-B.C. border.
The Washington State Parks Commission is staging the Peace Arch International Concert Series on Sundays from Aug. 4 to Sept. 1 at Peace Arch State Park, 100 A St., in Blaine, Whatcom County.
The state’s Folk and Traditional Art in the Parks Program presents five free, hour-long outdoor concerts at 2 p.m. each Sunday. (Discover Pass required for parking.)
Performances are scheduled as follows: (more…)
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