Those looking to explore the Carbon River area of Mount Rainier National Park may have to reschedule their plans until later next year. The National Park Service closed parts of the area until further notice.
Deputy Superintendent Kevin Skerl signed off on the emergency closure Nov. 15. Carbon River Road, Carbon River Rainforest Nature Trail, Green Lake Trail, Chenuis Falls Trail and the Ipsut Creek Campground are all closed to the public, according to a news release from the NPS.
The NPS closed the area to “protect the public due to heavy precipitation and rising water levels of local rivers,” according to the emergency measure Skerl signed. The Carbon River has washed out a part of Carbon River Road, making it unsafe for the public to access.
Part of the road at the Carbon River entrance to the park washed out last winter, but enough of it was left for visitors to safely access the trails there, the news release said, until stormy weather washed away what was left of the road Nov. 12.
There is no timetable for when the Carbon River area will be reopened, Kevin Bacher, volunteer program manager at Mount Rainier National Park, wrote via email. The state Department of Transportation is planning to repair the washed-out roadway in summer 2022.
“In the meantime, assessments are underway to see whether or not a safe footpath around the washout, in cooperation with the land owner, might be feasible,” Bacher wrote.
This is not the first time the NPS closed the road and trails near Carbon River, which has a “long history of flooding,” Bacher wrote. In early November 2006, flooding damaged sections of the road between the park entrance and Ipsut Creek Campground. The area was closed for many months and since then has only been open to bicyclists and pedestrians past the park entrance.
“The area is highly vulnerable to flooding because the valley bottom is relatively flat, with no readily available high ground on which to build roads and trails above the river’s flood plain,” Bacher wrote. “Glacially-fed rivers like this one frequently change course as old river channels fill up with gravel carried downstream from the glacier.”
Check nps.gov/mora for updates about the closure.