MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK -- All roads leading into Mount Rainier National Park remained closed Monday morning (Feb. 10), days after heavy rains caused mudslides and damage to roads, trails and historic sites.
There is no access to Paradise or the Longmire Historic Landmark District, according to a news release from the National Park Service, and the damage includes the National Park Inn and other buildings within the landmark district.
"Several buildings in Longmire have lost critical systems as sump pumps have been unable to keep up with water intrusion," the park service said.
A portion of State Route 706 leading to the park will remain closed until further notice because of an unstable hillside above the highway. It's unclear when the road will reopen.
The road has been closed since Thursday, Feb. 6, when driving rain triggered several mudslides, closing all lanes. Assessments of the scene during Sunday, Feb. 9 found it still too dangerous to remove debris.
“We want to reopen the highway as soon as possible, but the slope continues to move and is very unstable,” said WSDOT assistant region administrator Troy Cowan. “Removing debris from the highway that’s up to 6 feet deep in places, plus strong ongoing running water, may trigger additional slides that could put lives – both of crews and travelers –in danger.”
The highway remains closed to all travelers at milepost 10.18 near Kernahan Road East. The closure blocks access to Mount Rainier National Park’s Nisqually entrance. There is no detour available. WSDOT strongly encourages residents to not venture beyond the closure location due the severity of the unstable hillside — the closure is in place for everyone’s safety.
Crews believe the park’s main entrance road has sustained some damage near Sunshine Point (where a catastrophic flood washed out the entrance road in 2006).
Elsewhere in the park, access to the Carbon River area is blocked due to a significant washout on Pierce County’s Fairfax Forest Reserve Road, and SR 410 was currently blocked by four slides between Enumclaw and the park entrance.
Pierce County is projecting the Fairfax Forest Reserve Road will require a long-term closure and will be assessing a detour route in coming days.
Once precipitation slows across the park, critical systems are protected, and waters begin to recede, NPS staff will conduct a more comprehensive evaluation of in-park road and infrastructure impacts. Significant damage is anticipated, with more damage likely to be found as the snow melts this spring.
Visitors should anticipate delays in access to Longmire, Paradise, and the Carbon River area, even as state roads open outside the park.
For updates to WSDOT-maintained roads outside the park, including SR706 and SR410, please visit the WSDOT traffic alert and twitter sites. For Pierce County road updates (including Fairfax Forest Reserve Road that leads to the Carbon and Mowich areas of the park), please visit their website.
For daily updates on the park’s winter road status visit @MountRainierNPS on Twitter (account not required). Check the park web cameras to view current conditions.