Visitors to Olympic National Park who want to see the Elwha River flow through the former Glines Canyon Dam site can do so from a new viewpoint. The park has opened a new accessible parking area and viewpoint at the end of Whiskey Bend Road.
The 10-space parking area and viewpoint can be reached by following the gravel road about 1 mile south from its intersection with the Olympic Hot Springs Road.
At the edge of the dam’s east abutment, visitors can look into the canyon, at the river and former lake bed. The abutment, which was completed in 1927 as part of the dam, also gives visitors a view of the former dam’s spillway and west abutment.
The last piece of the dam was blasted in late August, the final step in a three-year project to remove the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams. Removal of the dams opens 70 miles of river habitat to salmon, steelhead and other fish species. Several radio-tagged fish have already made their way above the former Glines Canyon Dam.
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In addition to the viewpoint, visitors also can walk along a 0.3-mile trail that leads from the parking area to the former lakebed. The trail was built by the Elwha revegetation crew.
Park managers cautioned visitors that to avoid sinking into the fine mud of the old lakebed, the crew reinforced the path with metal walkways. These can become slippery when wet.
The former lakebed is extremely dynamic, with rapidly shifting sediments, leading managers to urge visitors to stay at least 20 feet from the river at all times.
“The former Lake Mills has been the focus of extensive revegetation efforts. To aid the restoration process and honor the work of our many volunteers, we ask that people avoid stepping on plants while exploring the old lakebed,” park superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said in a park news release.
At this point, the Olympic Hot Springs Road remains closed at the gate just above Altair Campground. Crews are making repairs to the Olympic Hot Springs Road, and the park expects to reopen the road to the Boulder Creek Trailhead by the end of this month.
Although the road and trailhead access will be open, the Glines Canyon parking area and former boat launch will remain closed while park crews continue to make safety and visitor access improvements. An opening schedule will be released soon.