Monday, November 24, 2008

Road closures

Update.--The road Nisqually Road is now open to Paradise, but may close depending on the weather for snow clearing in the mornings. Everything else for roads and trails, below, still apply.

The Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park has closed the Nisqually Road in the southwest corner of the NP, which leads to the Longmire and Paradise Visitors centers. This decision was made when flows in Kautz Creek flowed over the highway and flooding over highway 706 between Ashford and the Nisqually entrance.

Kautz Creek, along with other creeks and rivers in NP had significant channel changes from the storms and floods of November 2006, but none more dramatic than Kautz Creek, which split into two distinct channels, one creating a whole new channel through the forest east of the old channel and alongside the highway before passing under the highway through twin culverts. Flow excess of the new channel and the culvert overflows over the highway near the Kautz Creek bridge and rest stop.

It's not sure how long the closure will last, it's dependent on the storms in the immediate future but it could very easily be a seasonal situation until the NPS can find a way to allow the flow in the new channel to be containted in the channel and under the road. This, however, is unlikely this winter, so visitors should consider calling ahead if their plans include a trip to the NP through the Nisqually entrance.

In addition hikers wanting to access the Carbon River Trail should use caution as parts of the trail from the NP boundary to the Ipsut campground could be damaged or destroyed by floods as happened in the November 2006 and previous floods. Hikers should be prepared for this possibility along the trail. In addition, they should consider taking digital photos and contacting the NPS staff to show what you experienced. It's likely they are already aware of it but it doesn't hurt to inform and help.

On the east side of the NP highway 410 is open to the passes with some slower areas. Highway 123 at the Highway 706 intersection (Ohanopecosh entrance) is closed to the passes. Highway 706 from the intersection, Stevens Canyon entrance and highway, is closed to the intersection of the Longmire-Nisqually road to Paradise.

I will update this Web page as events change or I see a time when this isn't a problem for visitors. As always, you're welcome to add comments or send e-mail.

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