Hiker Headlines: Government Shutdown, Road Closures and Easier Camping
It’s Jan. 10. There’s snow in the highlands — and the potential for avalanche danger. The government shutdown is affecting recreation. Mount St. Helens permits will have a new system this year. State park reservations are getting an upgrade.
It’s Jan. 10. There’s snow in the highlands — and some lowlands — and the potential for avalanche danger. The government shutdown is affecting recreation. Mount St. Helens permits will have a new system this year. State park reservations are getting an upgrade.
Here’s some hiker news that you may have missed while out on trail this week.
What’s closed? What’s open? The federal government is still partially shutdown. So, what does it all mean for hikers? In short, national parks facilities are closed, and in some cases, roads are gated. Mount Rainier National Park closed the Nisqually entrance to the park — effectively cutting off access to Paradise. Access was already limited to many areas at Olympic National Park. Other federal facilities, such as restrooms on U.S. Forest Service land, may be locked. Luckily, state, county and city lands are not affected. So perhaps it’s time to try a new trail.
Want to climb St. Helens? Then you’ll want to pay attention to changes in the permit system this year. Permits will now be offered through Recreation.gov and administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Permits usually open on Feb. 1, but the government shutdown may delay that. Mount St. Helens Institute will continue to provide information on climbing St. Helens — including information on the status of permit sales.
Camping made easier: Washington State Parks are making it easier to reserve a campsite — and adding new parks to their system. To make the upgrade possible, the reservation system is currently offline. While the system is offline, camping is first come first serve. On Jan. 14, a preview of the new site will be available and it will be ready for use on Jan. 16.
Closed for the season: The road to Barlow Pass and Big Four Ice Caves closed earlier this week. The Mountain Loop Highway is now gated near Deer Creek and Bedal campgrounds. The road is gated every winter. Until spring, the areas beyond the gate are accessible by foot.
A gift for hikers: Hikers got a bit of good news for the holiday season. Forty-six acres of land on Cougar Mountain has been saved from development.