Olympic National Park officials said they won’t have a timeline for reopening Hurricane Ridge Road until at least June 2, according to a press release from the park, following the fire that destroyed the Olympic National Park Day Lodge in early May.
Park officials are developing plans to remove what remains of the Hurricane Ridge lodge once the fire investigation is completed, the area is secured and restrooms and other necessary services for park visitors are in place, they said.
Third-party certified fire investigators are examining the site to determine the cause and origin of the May 7 blaze.
The National Park Service’s Regional Structure Fire Program Manager is coordinating the investigation.
The Hurricane Hill area will remain closed to the public during the fire investigation, delaying the reopening of Hurricane Ridge Road, which was set to reopen before Memorial Day Weekend.
The lodge was the area’s hub for electrical, water and wastewater treatment.
“This is an active situation, and we appreciate the public’s patience as we work through it,” Olypic National Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs said.
“The good news is that there is still a lot of the park to visit and enjoy — from Kalaloch to Staircase, there are many great places to explore.”
The building was a two-story, 12,201-square-foot historic structure that was dedicated by Rep. Henry M. Jackson on Sept. 22, 1952. It was undergoing an extensive renovation funded through the Great American Outdoor Act.
The lodge was reported to be fully engulfed in flames by a law enforcement ranger on patrol. It burned to the ground.
The park remains open to visitors despite fire, Jacobs told a crowd of about 60 people at the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon at the Red Lion Hotel on May 10.
“It’s a 933,000-acre park and most areas you can still get to. Places are reopening,” Jacobs said to a round of laughter.
But Hurricane Ridge — which drew 332,820 visitors in fiscal year 2022 — is closed indefinitely, she said.
A variety of other areas and trailheads, such as Lake Angeles/Heather Park and others, are open, she said.
“I’m careful not to make any promises. So I am using a lot ‘if, then’ statements until I am told otherwise,” Jacobs said.
“I don’t have a lot of answers. I will try to get answers. It’s still an active situation. We don’t know how long the investigation will last. Then we need to clean it up,” she said.
In response to whether the historic building could be expanded now that it is not being renovated, Jacobs said, “That’s a good question, but we’re not anywhere near that stage yet.”
Lee Snook, acting public information officer, said the next step in the park’s public relations plan is to use social media to drive home the point that the park is still open. Then park personnel want to capture people’s memories of the building, she said.
The 17-mile Hurricane Ridge Road has been closed since March 27 to allow preparation for a two-year, $10.8 million renovation project funded through the Great American Outdoors Act. JMG Constructors of Poulsbo personnel had been working on the building since April 3 but were not there last weekend, Snook has said.
The park had aimed to reopen the road and parking lot before Memorial Day, but the fire has changed that.
The lodge, which was built in 1952, was to have its roof replaced and receive upgrades to its plumbing, wiring and HVAC systems in the upgrade.
It had housed interpretive exhibits upstairs and a gift shop and small café run by Aramark, a park concessioner.