Inclement weather and closures reduced the number of visitors to Olympic National Park in 2010, with visit estimates showing a decline of more than 10 percent to 2.84 million.
“Our visitation is always very weather-related, and we had quite a cool, rainy spring and early summer in 2010,” said Barb Maynes, spokeswoman for the park.
“We’ve observed our weather-related visitation for a number of years, although it might even be more accurate to say weather forecast-related,” Maynes said. “When the Seattle-Puget Sound-Portland corridor has a dry and sunny weather forecast, especially for a weekend, we’ll sometimes see more visitation, even if it’s pouring, than when the forecast is for rain but it ends up being sunny.”
Park officials say the closure of Hurricane Ridge Road affected the number of visits. It took about six weeks to make road repairs after a large landslide over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend destroyed both lanes along 100 feet of the road.
Visitation for the first two months of 2010 was 182,734, down 15.3 percent from the same time frame in 2009.
More recently, there were storm-related and flooding-related closures Dec. 12-13 during a Pineapple Express storm.
Other issues affecting attendance were the closure of the Boulder Creek trail that leads to Olympic Hot Springs and Appleton Pass, and the Olympic Hot Springs Road. They were closed during August and September for major trail rehabilitation work and for a major sediment management project on the Lake Mills delta.
“Each of these factors had a definite impact on our visitation this past year,” Maynes said.
But statistical omissions also likely are exaggerating the drop in visitors: Park staff recently discovered there were no visits recorded for June or December. Maynes said they are working to produce a corrected total.