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Wazzu_camper
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PostWed Jul 24, 2019 12:06 pm 
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I'm curious if anyone knows when the last time ONP created either a front country or back country camp?

The more I backpack and enjoy our wild spaces the more I'm surprised by how I can no longer get permits to many destinations due to them going to the lucky few who get their reservations granted and sites are all full for walk in (I do put in for reservations). I've been alive since 1980 and to my knowledge Olympic hasn't created a single new campground (either front or back country) in the last 40 years. Also a lot of the trails and camps that were in existence in 1980 are no longer maintained or even remain due to no funding. While I'm torn on this, because I do want our wild spaces to remain wild, at the same time this isn't sustainable. The population of the US has grown by over 100 million people since then. That's an increase of almost 50% yet we have fewer trails to hike and places to camp at least in ONP. Canada on the flip side seems to be going in the opposite direction. I just booked a trip to Garibaldi and a lot of those sites have 48+ tent sites. I'm not saying I want that to happen in the US, but come on, demand is higher than ever yet supply is shrinking.

I know a lot of people who have completely given up on trying to get into the Enchantments after multiple years of not getting reservations attempt. I'd hate to see this happen elsewhere, but I don't any indication that the current management strategy is changing.

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RandyHiker
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PostWed Jul 24, 2019 2:21 pm 
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Wazzu_camper wrote:

I know a lot of people who have completely given up on trying to get into the Enchantments after multiple years of not getting reservations attempt.

The last time I ran the Colorado through the Grand Canyon , it had taken the permit holder twelve years from when he applied until the launch date.  His was one of the last "1st come, 1st served" permits before the current lottery system was adopted.   Given the rise in the number of applicants for Enchantment permits, the odds are getting longer and longer.

I discussed the Enchantments permit situation with Bill Prater sitting on the summit of Mt Daniel about ten years ago and his suggestion was to head for the Beartooth range in Montana.  "It's like the Enchantments,  but 100 times bigger, 1/100 the  people and the fishing is amazing, but it's a long drive"
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hbb
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PostWed Jul 24, 2019 3:11 pm 
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Just looking at the upcoming week, there are still reserveable campsites available in every quota area in ONP with the exception of Seven Lakes Basin, which is booked out for 3 weeks or so. The current unavailability in Seven Lakes Basin is likely attributable to the goat removal closure that recently ended; the area was closed for the first half of July.

It's crazy to suggest more campsites should be developed when the existing ones don't even fill up during the best weather window of the summer.
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RodF
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PostWed Jul 24, 2019 6:51 pm 
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Wazzu_camper wrote:
I've been alive since 1980 and to my knowledge Olympic hasn't created a single new campground (either front or back country) in the last 40 years.  Also a lot of the trails and camps that were in existence in 1980 are no longer maintained or even remain due to no funding.

That's correct.  No new campgrounds have been built in Olympic NP since 1965, and several campgrounds have closed or lost spaces since.

Since 1982, Boulder Creek campground has been inaccessible to automobiles.  Since 2002, the 30 spaces in Dosewallips Campground have been inaccessible to automobiles, and the majority of Dosewallips backcountry campsites abandoned.  Since 2012, 30 spaces in Altair and two dozen in Elwha Campground have been destroyed or rendered inaccessible.  Spaces have been lost in Kalaloch other campgrounds due to movement of shorelines.  The number of automobile campsites has fallen from ~900 to ~820.

The loss of backcountry campsites is certainly greater, due to abandonment of trails and destruction of shelters.

Day-use areas have also been closed (July Creek, La Poel, Waterhole).

So more visitors are concentrated into fewer sites and trails, are competing for reservations, find their choices limited by quotas, and the experience of solitude is lost.

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RAW-dad
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PostThu Aug 01, 2019 3:53 pm 
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It all comes down to the lack of $$.

In 2015, my hiking partners and I were given a very generous lift by a front country ONP ranger from Obs Pt to Elwha RS.  On the way we got to talking about many things and he told us that the number of front country rangers had decreased by 10x over the past 3 decades! These days there are <6 rangers patrolling all of the ONP front country!

It would be interesting (and depressing) to see the ONP budget over the past 30 years...
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Ski
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PostThu Aug 01, 2019 9:17 pm 
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More overnight camping sites have closed on the Olympic Peninsula than have been opened during the last 50 years.
In addition to the Dosewallips campground Rod mentioned above, the July Creek campground (29 sites) was designated "day use only" several years ago due to a root fungus problem.

Outside of Olympic National Park, the Rayonier-administrated "Promised Land" campground about 20 miles north of Hoquiam on Hwy 101 was closed several years ago.

Kopachuck State Park (closer to Gig Harbor than what one might consider "The Peninsula") was closed to overnight use several years ago, also due to a root fungus problem.
There have been other Washington State Parks overnight campgrounds that have been designated "day use only" because of the same root fungus problem.

Ski, on 12/28/06 wrote:


http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=232330#232330

Current campground count at Olympic National Park:
Total 16 Campgrounds

No. Fork Quinault (9 sites), Graves Creek (30), Altair (30), Deer Park (14),
Dosewallips (30), Elwha (40),
Fairholm (88), Heart o' the Hills (105), Hoh (88), Kalaloch (170), Mora (94) (* plus one walk-in site),
Ozette (15), Queets (20), Sol Duc (82), Staircase (56), South Beach (50)
Formerly, July Creek C.G. had 29 available sites.

If my math is correct, I count a total of 921 campground sites at 16 ONP campgrounds ( available for use by motorized vehicles ).

Subtract Dosewallips ( closed for the last 5 years due to a road washout on NFS land ) ( - 30 )
Subtract Queets ( presently inaccessible due to a road washout at Matheny Creek ) ( - 20 )

With the re-assignment of July Creek CG to a "day use only" area ( due to a root-fungus problem ), 29 sites were made unavailable.

This leaves, at present, 871 available campground sites at 14 campgrounds, down 79 sites and 3 campgrounds from 5 years ago. (see note below)

* edit 08/01/19 - The Queets campground (20 sites) was made accessible in 2008

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SwitchbackFisher
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PostFri Aug 02, 2019 11:02 pm 
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I was looking to do a few days in the ONP recently but could not reserve a permit because all the desirable locations filled.

I almost wish you could pay for a general back county permit and camp in unofficial areas like most NP. I read tons of trip reports on WTA of people who camp in these unofficial areas to advoid paying for a permit or could not get one.

For certain areas like royal basin 7 lakes I get the need for the system but most of the park as a whole I feel it's not needed and to expensive in the current system because you have to pay per a person.

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Ski
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PostSat Aug 03, 2019 1:31 am 
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^ It sounds as though you have been misinformed. Only in a few areas within Olympic National Park are there "designated camping sites".
In the greater majority of the Park, dispersed camping is allowed in the backcountry.
If your focus is only on the most popular sites, you are really narrowing down your options.

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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SwitchbackFisher
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PostSat Aug 03, 2019 2:25 am 
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Ski wrote:
^ It sounds as though you have been misinformed. Only in a few areas within Olympic National Park are there "designated camping sites".
In the greater majority of the Park, dispersed camping is allowed in the backcountry.
If your focus is only on the most popular sites, you are really narrowing down your options.

I'm not saying you are incorrect, but a call to the ranger station this week told me otherwise?

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Ski
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PostSat Aug 03, 2019 9:11 am 
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You have definitely been misinformed. ONP district ranger stations are notorious for feeding visitors incorrect information.

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RodF
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PostSat Aug 03, 2019 3:06 pm 
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It is confusing.  If you phone the Park or read it's web pages, it's confusing unless you know the answer beforehand!

"Wilderness Camping Permits are required for all overnight stays in the Olympic National Park wilderness (backcountry) year-round." as the Park's camping permit page says. 

Quotas or limits have been placed on the most popular, overused areas of the Park.  "Permits are limited year-round in some areas." as it goes on to say above.  That means a reservation is needed to camp within a "Quota Area".    The "Quota Areas" are listed here.

The "Quota Areas" cover about 5% of the Park. A permit with reservations is required to camp within these "quota areas".

Reservations are not needed to camp anywhere in the remaining 95% of the Park wilderness, just the permit.

The permit costs the same, whether camping in a "Quota Area" or not.  Yes, the cost has tripled in the last two years, as initiated by Mr. Trump's secretary of interior Zinke.  (I wouldn't mind so much if those fee increases went to improving trail maintenance, replacing missing trail bridges and footlogs, rebuilding trails across landslides and washouts... but it hasn't.) 

The Park permits and fees probably push more hikers to choose to hike in adjacent National Forest areas, instead of inside the Park?

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SwitchbackFisher
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PostSat Aug 03, 2019 10:18 pm 
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RodF wrote:
The Park permits and fees probably push more hikers to choose to hike in adjacent National Forest areas, instead of inside the Park?

It's funny I was thinking that I would rather just not deal with this hassle and hike elsewhere reading this whole thing.

ONP is a long drive for me so if I go I really want to see the best of it and in that case probably will be in there permit area.

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cascadetraverser
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PostSun Aug 04, 2019 6:20 am 
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Another point to consider is you don`t always need to secure a permit at the Park Ranger stations but can often pick one up at the trailhead.

It is unfortunate that the extra fees charged don`t go back to Park and trail maintenance. down.gif
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reststep
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PostSun Aug 04, 2019 8:05 am 
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That is a question I had.

Ski and RodF, do you know if it still possible to self register at some trailheads in Olympic National Park?

I remember a few years back I went to Home Lake by way of Boulder Shelter and the park service had a box at the park boundary with permits for self registering. I think I heard that the box is no longer there.

I think I recall the park service having a box on the Putvin Trail also.

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RodF
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PostSun Aug 04, 2019 12:43 pm 
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reststep wrote:
Ski and RodF, do you know if it still possible to self register at some trailheads in Olympic National Park?

Park has stopped replenishing the paper self-issue permits at most trailheads.

They were still available at the the WIC's after-hours window at the back (south) side of the Park Visitors Center in Port Angeles, last I looked.

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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