Many California state parks remain closed as more storms hit


The fallout from this week’s destructive atmospheric river storm has forced California park officials to keep many national and state sites completely or partially closed into the weekend — and possibly longer.

California State Parks seems to have taken the brunt of the damage.

In all, 46 state parks are totally closed, while 49 are partially closed as of Saturday morning. The long list of completely inaccessible parks includes popular Bay Area spots like Portola Redwoods State Park, Butano State Park, Pescadero State Beach, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Angel Island State Park and Tomales Bay State Park.

Statewide, five parks sustained “significant” damage in this week’s storms:

  • Along the Central Coast, half of the pier at Seacliff State Beach collapsed into the ocean and campgrounds were washed away. The pier was connected to the famous SS Palo Alto, known as the “cement ship,” sitting in Monterey Bay in the town of Aptos for nearly a century
  • At Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, a tree fell on Pfeiffer Bridge
  • Richardson Grove State Park and Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area, both just north of Leggett, are closed due to “significant” tree damage and power outages
  • In Southern California, the parking lots, park road and multi-use trail at Bolsa Chica State Beach (between Long Beach and Huntington Beach) are closed to the public because of “flooding and debris from high tide and large surf”

“State Parks would like to thank the public for their patience as we continue to evaluate the impacts from the winter storm,” a California State Parks spokesperson told SFGATE in a statement late Friday. “Our goal is to reopen the parks as soon as it is safe to do so — for the public and employees.” 

Officials don’t yet “have a full assessment of the storm impacts at this time,” and the closure list is changing by the day.



In far Northern California, officials at Redwoods National and State Parks continue to assess damage through the weekend with the goal of completely reopening closed areas by Monday, if not earlier. 

“The southern end of our park got hit hard,”park guide Mike Poole told SFGATE. “We are just clearing up the debris the best that we can.”

There’s a lot of it. Trees “are down everywhere,” he said. (How many trees and what type are not yet clear.) 

Across the park, many closures are in effect: The Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Elk Prairie and Gold Bluffs Beach Campgrounds, Howland Hill Road and Davision Road remain closed through the weekend. The Kuchel Visitor Center and Bald Hills Road are being “assessed for potential reopening,” while the park’s “Hike and Bike Day” on Saturday has been called off. 

The torrential rains, landslides and high winds wreaked havoc on the forests, prompting Poole to issue a warning for sightseers planning a trip to the parks this weekend: “This is not the best time to visit Redwood National and State Parks.”

Other California national parks are dealing with similar weather-related effects.

At Pinnacles National Park, the famous Balconies and Bear Gulch caves remain closed until further notice “due to dangerously high water levels and forceful flow in the caves.” Officials have also warned of delayed travel, whiteout conditions and road closures at Lassen Volcanic National Park and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

In the Bay Area, some parks have reopened, and some are still closed as damage assessment continues. Check Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space, East Bay Regional Parks and Sacramento Regional Parks for the latest.

 





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