Olympic National Park Closes Hot Springs After Man’s Death

There can be nothing better after a long hike than relaxing in a hot springs. For more than century, people have soaked their bones and soothed their souls at Olympic Hot Springs.

The pool has been closed, however, since last week when a man died in the pool. Bruce Gunderson, 61, was found diseased at the pool by his fellow hiking partners. His death was likely to do to natural causes, but out of an abundance of caution park officials have closed the hot springs. 

“Although use of Olympic Hot Springs has always been at the discretion and risk of the visitor, we have closed the pools until further notice due to public health and safety concerns following this tragic incident,”  Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said in a statement.

hot springs 2An autopsy is expected to soon shed light on the exact cause of the man’s death to determine whether the hot springs were related. The Olympic Hot Springs became a destination for people back in 1910 when tent cabins were first built on site, but was likely a Native American destination for centuries previously. A resort soon followed by the 1920s, which was eventually torn down in 1966.

But the wilderness oasis continued. And although the park service discourages people from visiting the site, they do not do a whole lot to prevent them. People have built up stones to form natural pools from 21 hot seeps coming out of the ground with water as hot as 138 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Located in the Elwha Valley, the hot springs are located 2.5 miles from the Boulder Creek trail head.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons