Queets River "back door" access [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Queets River "back door" access

Todd Ripley
12-23-2006, 11:11 PM
From an e-mail from a couple of days ago...surprised it hasn't shown up on this board yet!

Anyway, here it is...and place me firmly in the "DO NOT open the back door access up for public access.


Olympic National Park News Release

December 21, 2006
For Immediate Release
Barb Maynes 360-565-3005

Interim Access Route Proposed for Queets Valley; Public Comment Invited

An Environmental Assessment (EA) for Restoring Interim Access to the Queets
Area was released today and is available for public review and comment. The
EA analyzes one action alternative for restoring interim access into the
Queets Valley, along with a no action alternative.

The Queets Road has been closed to traffic since March 2005, when a rock
slide undercut the road bed, creating cracks in the road and rendering it
unsafe for vehicles. In January 2006, an even larger slide at the same
site completely wiped out 150 feet of the road, leaving a 200-foot deep
chasm and closing the area to pedestrian traffic as well.

“Thanks to excellent cooperation from our two neighboring agencies in the
Queets, we are proposing to use DNR and U.S. Forest Service roads in order
to establish an alternate route into the upper Queets area,” said Olympic
National Park Superintendent Bill Laitner. “Our goal is to re-establish
access into the Queets rain forest, allowing people to once again enjoy the

The roads considered for restoring access to the Queets are U.S. Forest
Service Roads 21 and 2180, both of which are currently open to the public.
These roads would provide access to another U.S. Forest Service road and a
DNR road, which would lead to a National Park Service road sometimes
referred to as the “back door road.” These roads have been used in the
past for access by park staff, for emergency and administrative purposes,
and when flooding or washouts have occurred along the first ten miles of
the Queets Road.

Comments should be sent to the following address no later than January 31,

Superintendent – Queets EA
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362

Fax: 360-565-3015
Website: http://parkplanning.nps.gov
Email: olym_ea@nps.gov

Comments may also be submitted on-line by visiting
http://parkplanning.nps.gov, the website for the National Park Service’s
Planning Environment and Public Comment system. Initial public input on
restoring access to the Queets was invited in July 2005. Twenty-one
comments were received.

For more information or to request a copy of the EA, people may call the
park superintendent's office at (360) 565-3004.

Commentors should be aware that their entire comment – including personal
identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time.
While commentors can ask that their personal identifying information be
withheld from public review, the NPS cannot guarantee that this will be

- NPS -


Fish on...


12-24-2006, 11:01 AM
I remember abusing my 4x4 to get around the Quinault washout many moons ago to access the upper river. It was a near religious experience with grazing elk, drafting eagles and cougar tracks on the banks of crystal tributaries with red-sided spawning steelhead in them. I hardly even fished while marveling at the incredible stuff around me.

However anyone could do anything they wanted up there, even the elk were hanging out like cattle on a grassy bend of the river, 75-100 of them.

I would have to agree with you unless this back door came with a vigilant watch from the EPOs and park officials.

12-26-2006, 01:03 PM
Ripley and Juro...

Curious as to your concerns regarding this proposal. am on neither side of the fence, just wondering about your concerns... Issues w/ poaching? other resource damage?? thanks for your input... am unfamiliar with this area...

Todd Ripley
12-26-2006, 09:48 PM
I have a couple of different reasons for feeling like I do...

First, there are no hatchery fish up there...and NPS regulations require the release of all wild steelhead...poachers do not readily have access to the upper watershed, because they aren't likely to do a 16 mile roundtrip hike and pack out a poached wild fish...there are dozens of places where they can drive right out onto the river bar and do that.

While fishing pressure would undoubtedly increase, that's not really much of an issue...it is on an "experience" level, but I doubt it would affect the fish runs there so much. My last several trips up there, I haven't seen a single person other than my partners.

The most important factor for me is the overall increase in use of the area in total...the campground was notorious for being a mess...garbage everywhere, junk in the firepits, firewood gathering from the surrounding woods (illegal in the Nat. Park), and worse, lots of garbage...beer cans to shrimp containers...laying on the river bars and washed up in the log jams.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of places on the OP where recreationalists can drive in, set up camp, or go fishing...there are only a handful where you can do a two hour hike and be into some great fishing water without all the mess and people, and the upper Queets is one of 'em.

The hike isn't so bad...eight miles of flat road bed...but it keeps out all but the serious fishermen and hikers, and serious fishermen and hikers are much less likely to make a mess.

When the Park was created the Queets Valley was touted as "the most pristine" in the Park...that's why the Park includes a corridor along the lower Queets all the way down to the Quinault Reservation, rather than just being up in the mountains like the other watersheds are.

This helps keep it that way.

Fish on...


12-28-2006, 08:36 AM
Here is my input on the issue at hand. I have fished the Queets on many occasions and love the river. It is truly one of the the jems of our country. How many rivers can we put in and float all day without seeing a road, bridge, house, cow, or some other manmade object? Not many. If it were up to me I would leave the Queets completely unfettered and wild. Adding access adds man to an already fragile equasion.

John Hicks

12-28-2006, 05:36 PM
The road and access is not new it is simply a road repair and the EA is just a formality, the Park is going to re establish the link to the Ranger Station and Campground.(Period)
Perhaps there could be additional regulations to restrict some uses that pre exisisted the roads slide into the river but those will be dealt with by the Parks Manangers at another venue.
The work will not take place until late in the Spring well after this fishing season.
Where the road ends at Sams River and from there it is now and always was and will be a walk in show. The road is a logging road the whole place was logged adjacent to the road after the second world war. The few old growth trees that exisist below Sams River are just the few that they could not get to with the equipment to yard them out and we are very fortunate that the cutters left them standing.
I have been making the trip by foot and bike and to be perfectly honest I am looking forward to never having to push my montain bike up that friggin hill again.
Interesting comment about litter and campground clutter I must have overlooked something but I think that was just hyperbole to justify a position. But hey I'ev done worse;)

12-28-2006, 07:54 PM

Is riding a bike into a national park that bad?

12-29-2006, 10:55 AM
Riding a bike in a National Park is perfectly acceptable and after the park reopens the road you will be able to continue doing so. I will probably switch back to driving my truck in and out of the Valley but if it offends you to use a form of transport other than bike then by all means do not offend yourself.

12-29-2006, 11:17 AM
Would you deprive older and handicapped access ?


12-29-2006, 01:09 PM
Skilly next year I will celebrate my 60th year and my 44th fishing the Queets I have arthritis in a variety of my joints and while it was a struggle I managed to find my way in and out of the affected area and will no doubt do the same this season. However I know that it is simply a matter of time until the forces of age and deteriation will take there toll and stop me from enduring the access as it now exisist, (actually the trips in and out are probably detremental to the joints in question. )
As I stated earlier there is and always was an extensive area in the Queets and other Olympic river drainages that are restricted to non vehicular access.
Its always nice to have a little room to yourself and the few folks who used the area since the slide see it as a way to get away from the crowds now there are several websites having these same disscussions and unfortunately this begging the rest of the angling world to come and enjoy that solitude. (Kind of reminds me of the old 60's era lament of "Fighting for peace is like F ing for Virginty"!
I am certain that the road work will be completed and access will be regained. There may as there always is a potential to address additional restrictions by the managers through the Parks fishing season and boating rules.
Whatever rules are made in the Park to address any issuess of access they will have to consider Handicap Access.

12-29-2006, 02:25 PM
I assume they intend to re-open the river road someday, so this backdoor access is an interim measure? If that's the case, then why bother? The EIS speaks of general problems with lost of access. Recreation, sure, but some recreational experiences benefit from the lack of access. Are any significant long term scientific studies jeopardized by lack of access? Anything else substantive?

over the long haul, a good case can be made to decommission the river road, and only have the backdoor access, since the river will continue to maul that road as long as it flows to the sea.

12-29-2006, 06:41 PM
The back door access already exisist and has been utilzed in the past when bridges at Salmon River and Mud Creek were washed out or being rebuilt. I doubt the Park will ever rebuild or reroute the road around the slide above Matheny Creek were talking well over a Million Bucks to engage in such a job. Using the West Haul Road (so called back door) would take one man with a rubber tire backhoe a day at most to reopen. The EA that is 90 pages long is make work job security for a lot of people and has apparently wasted the time of many others myself included. The road portion across State land (which is recently logged ) Has recently been designated by the State as wild life habitat and they closed the road. I was lead to beleive that this was Bureaucratic fighting over who controls what and why. There of course is no way on this earth that any of the agencys involved in (this pissing match) would admit to it in public. I have checked out post on other boards re this issue and I must say it is pretty amazing the misinformation and BS that is floating around I wonder if this might be part of the reason a lot of management agencys have a hard time working with Advocacy Groups in there deliberations.

12-30-2006, 12:26 AM
I find myself in complete agreement with Moonlight on this issue. In the 15 years I've been fishing the Queets, I've never found a "crowd" at the end of the road at Sam's River. I do miss being able to drive up to the campground on the Queets Road (which is more of a dirt track or logging road than a proper road) and camping in the back of my truck under the topper (or canopy, or camper shell as it is called in different locales) for a week end or 3-4 days. I know I wouldn't want to push a mountain bike up that stinkin' hill either.

Lest we forget, the Queets is a long drive for most fishers in Western WA, it is not a quick little 2 hour drive. Plus once you get there, there are not services, food, water, etc. except for those you provide.

I mean at this rate, we ought to be requesting the upper Hoh road be closed and possibly the OP's Clearwater River Road as well.

12-30-2006, 04:08 AM
thanks for indicating threads on other websites. I was on the fence, but after reading the exchanges on Piscatorial Pursuits (which I haven't visited in a long while), I'm now more clearly resolved on my position. Not that it matters, as I expect the "open it up" perspective will prevail, fully in line with the NPS philosophy nationally of interpreting their "public enjoyment" mandate a bit too liberally (i.e., not conservatively) under the Organic Act.

12-30-2006, 12:16 PM
deleted. deleted.

Todd Ripley
12-30-2006, 12:56 PM
As was noted above, there isn't going to be any repair to the main road at the slide above Matheney...besides wiping out a big stretch of the road, it is really steep, and the slide itself starts way up the mountain, and runs all the way down into the river...expense aside, I don't even think that there is an engineering solution to the problem; the backdoor access will be the only drive in access in the future, if it is indeed opened back up.

If someone is too handicapped to walk on a flat roadbed, they aren't likely to be in good enough shape to even walk through the campground and down to the river, much less get around on the river...considering that the River Rd. "follows" the river from Matheney up to Sam's, it's almost never anywhere near the river, and the terrain from the road to the river is at best daunting, and at worse, a good place to get turned around and lost in acres of windfalls and swamps, and even getting up and down the river bank in the fall during low flows requires lots of crosses and bushwhacking.

I'll repeat my main thought on the issue...there are literally thousands of places to fish where you can drive right to the river, and camp or recreate within a few feet of both your truck and the river...there are considerably less places where you can hike in and fish good water (more than most people would think of or know about, but still a lot less than the "easy access" spots), and only one river where you can hike in on a flat roadbed and fish a large stream...and that's the Queets as it exists right now.

Some people undoubtedly will miss out on fishing there if the road is not opened...not everyone can amble seven or eight miles, even on a flat roadbed, and guides who have NPS guide permits specifically for fishing the Queets River will continue to be confined to the bottom stretches of the Park on the Queets. The great majority of those who could "miss out", however, are folks that are otherwise perfectly able to do it, but just won't walk more than a 100 yards to fish.

In the long run, however, I think that those who enjoy the limited access on the Queets will miss out on much more than those who can't, or won't, access the upper River...not opening the road fails to add one more easy access to the list of thousands of easy access points, while opening it drops one of the relatively few "tougher access" points off the list.

Fish on...


P.S. If you didn't notice the mess and trash around the campground "back in the day", then you either have a much higher tolerance for it than I do, or were in an understandable rush to get to the river and didn't look around much!!:razz:

01-01-2007, 11:45 PM

I am one of those who used to bushwhack to the river from the road between Streeter's access and Sam's. As you rightfully described it, the river is not right next to the road as it is in many places downstream of Methany and it would be very easy for someone to get turned around or worse lost doing so. However, I never found all that many fishermen between Streeter's and Sam's, especially the on-foot bushwhacker type like myself. I mean the campground at Sam's is not an improved one and it not all the large, so not many folks could camp in it anyway. Plus the road up to Sam's was not exactly a well-graded, improved road and it took more like 40 minutes to make the eight miles from Methany to Sam's.

Sure I could easily walk the eight miles between Methany and Sam's; but doing so in a pair of waders with the idea of getting some fishing in is not what I'd call doable. Yes, it is a road you would get to walk on; but a person would have to pack in a tent and his gear, set up camp, and then finally get to fish. This would have a person be pretty much limited to about a mile or so of water to make walking in and camping feasible for a fisherman. Granted, the hike up the hill is the hardest section and I can walk up the hill to gain access to the nice water around Streeter's; but it is not really feasilbe for me to walk up the hill, or push a bike up the hill and then ride it while wanting the fish through bushwhacking the water between Streeter's and Sam's.

Yes, I saw some garbage at the campground; but like many others, I would pick it up and take it out in the rig.

The bottom line for me is I have limited time to go fishing and keeping the area above Methany closed to vehicular traffic will prevent me from being able to fish anything but the area around Streeter's due to time constraints. It is a long way to the Queets for most of us. I mean, it takes me 4-5 hours just to get to the Queets Road, let alone get to the areas I like to fish.

02-28-2007, 10:01 PM
.Sure a lot of high water this year!

03-12-2007, 11:33 AM
An article in the local paper this morning quoting Barb Maynes the spokesperson for Olympic National Park announcing the schedule for reopening the road link to the Queets Valley Road, campground and Ranger Station. Should be done this Summer:smokin:
Well Russ we didn't miss much this year with all the high and dirty water and next year is just around the corner.

03-12-2007, 02:48 PM
Yep, We sure had more than our share of high water this year.

October Caddis
03-12-2007, 03:27 PM
Glad to hear that both Flytyer and Moonlight are finding nothing but muddy water to fish this year. Hope all is well with you both. By the way remember our other friend Sinktip? He has had nothing but bad luck all year because his river is also muddy.

03-12-2007, 07:18 PM

I'm doing fine; but the local river is flooding upstream at the moment. It must be a conspiracy that is causing all this year's high water and winds. By the way, I saw sinktip at K-days a few weeks back; but alas, he hadn't had a pull that morning either.

I trust all is well with you and the year-long trip is still on.

October Caddis
03-15-2007, 09:40 AM
Russ, hoping 4 years! Last night I put all my salt water fly tying materials togeter in plastic zip locks and did a vacuum seal job on them. We have a spare bedroom at home more than half full of spare parts for the boat. Plus the toys, four fly rods assorted reels 2 conventional rods and reels and two surfboards. Then there is the diving stuff which includes a Hooker. 3 pair of reef walkers for each person, one light pair, and two heavy ones that one can actually walk on coral where needed or not worry so much on what you might step on. Then there is the sun proof clothing.
Your river must be good this week now that it got cold again. Hey and the Tip had his best year ever as far as big fish goes. But he misses not having me to give him crap on river floats.

03-15-2007, 05:13 PM

'Tip let me in on the big one, a right nice one at that. I'm also sure he misses having you along, afterall, someone needs to give him some crap when away from his job or else he will begin to feel that nobody cares about him.

Sounds like you are almost counting the days until you leave on the boat.

Todd Ripley
03-21-2007, 09:55 AM
OC...where ya been? It's been a few years...

Fish on...