Staircase, located on the rugged southeast corner of the Olympic National Park, is home to some awesome hikes, a gorgeous river and a campground that has given a lifetime of memories to campers. Tucked along the North Fork of the Skokomish River, the 47-spot Staircase Campground has given access to the awesome sights around the region for years. Sadly, because of budget cuts to the National Parks, the Staircase Campground might be closing for good after 2014.
Rumors are circulating among local hikers as well as National Park and National Forest employees regarding a closure of Staircase Campground at the end of 2014. While not official, the rumors claim that the National Park Service is considering turning the existing campground into a larger day-use area. If this is true, 47-spots of amazing beauty in the Olympic National Park will no longer be available for camping. The closure also means the there would be no location for those who enjoy car-camping on the entire eastern side of the Olympic National Park. With no easy location for families and nature lovers to enjoy on this side of the Peninsula, the economic impact could be quite substantial to the Hood Canal Region.
While the rumors are unofficial, we here at Exotic Hikes feel that they should be taken quite seriously. An undisclosed Forest Service Employee stressed to us that they don’t want the Staircase Campground to be closed and we agree. Closures of campgrounds throughout the National park System have been occurring due to Government Budget Cuts for the past few years. Staircase would be a logical place to close, as it is a smaller campground with minimal amenities. If the car campsites do indeed close, the campsites along the trails will still be open and should help to continue to encourage use of the area.
Upset by this? Let your Government Representative know: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
WHAT IS THE GOOD NEWS?
While the closing of Staircase is a sad reality we may be facing, there is some good news just a few miles away. The Big Creek Campground is going to be expanding and getting a fancy new makeover. Starting in February of 2014, the Big Creek Campground and surrounding area will be closed due a timber harvest and campground upgrade. More on Big Creek: http://1.usa.gov/19AF5LO
The upgrades to the campground are what we are excited about. With the scheduled changes, we might see Big Creek and the surrounding area get a surge of popularity. Because of the upgrade, the Big Creek Campground isn’t expected to reopen until spring of 2015. Officials assure us that the changes will be well worth the wait.
According to Dean Yoshina of the Hood Canal Ranger District, “This closure creates a temporary inconvenience but the public can look forward to many new campground amenities: a new tent camping area, new group camping sites with picnic shelters and fire rings, additional RV sites, a host site, new toilets, new picnic tables, new kiosks, a new accessible trail, additional parking, and a water distribution system.”
FULL PRESS RELEASE: BIG CREEK CAMPGROUND UPGRADE AND CLOSURE: OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE