Camping again allowed in Olympic National Park’s Enchanted Valley

Enchanted Valley reopened Monday to overnight camping, seven weeks after it was closed because of issues with black bears.

Olympic National Park managers closed the area April 24 after visitors reported that black bears had eaten human food and had approached and appeared unafraid of humans.

Rangers and wildlife biologists have monitored the area since then and have found that bear behavior appears to have returned to normal in recent weeks, according to a park news release.

“It’s vitally important to human safety and the park’s bears that visitors are diligent about keeping all food, food waste and scented items secured and inaccessible to wildlife,” Sarah Creachbaum, Olympic park superintendent, said in the release.

Along with the opening, the park said bear canisters will be required for anyone camping in Enchanted Valley.

“This change is necessary and will make it easier for visitors of all skill levels to securely store their food, garbage and scented items,” Creachbaum said in the release.

Bear canisters can be borrowed from the park’s Wilderness Information Centers and some park ranger stations. A suggested $3 donation per canister helps sustain the canister loan program and provide visitor information and education.

Proper food storage helps maintain safe distances between bears and humans, and is required in all park wilderness and frontcountry areas of the park. Information about how to keep food and garbage safe from wildlife is available at nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wilderness-food-storage.htm.

All visitors to the park are reminded to stay at least 50 yards away from wildlife and to keep food, trash and all scented items properly stored and out of reach of wildlife at all times.