Pictured: Clearing winter damage in Mount Rainer. Photo courtesy of NPS.
By Abigail Trabue
Access to Mount Rainier National Park as been cut off indefinitely due to a “Pineapple Express” weather system that blew through the area last week triggering mudslides and covering forest service roads in debris.
“Park staff are working around-the-clock, and in close partnership with the Rainier Guest Services team and state and local officials, to protect life, health, and safety of residents, visitors, and employees first, and critical infrastructure related to our nationally-significant buildings and roads, second,” said Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout.
Essential staff remaining on duty within the park are focused on maintaining emergency access and services for remaining critical NPS staff and stranded residents outside the park, as well as securing critical water, wastewater, electrical, and drainage infrastructure inside the park.
Continued flooding within park boundaries is causing damage to roads, trails and historic structures including the National Park Inn and other nationally-significant buildings within the Longmire National Historic Landmark District. Several buildings in Longmire have lost critical systems as sump pumps have been unable to keep up with water intrusion.
Elsewhere in the park, access to the Carbon River area is blocked due to a washout on Pierce County’s Fairfax Forest Reserve Road, and SR 410 is currently blocked by four slides between Enumclaw and the park entrance.
Roads leading to the park will remain closed until they can be cleared of water and debris. Pierce County is projecting the Fairfax Forest Reserve Road will require a long-term closure and will be assessing a detour route in the coming days.