As snow finally begins to fall on the mountains and trails of Olympic National Park, one of the nation’s most popular National Park is gearing up for winter. Sitting at 5,242 feet above sea level, Hurricane Ridge sits, existing perfectly in the Olympic Mountains. Considered by many to be the crown jewel of the Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge is the best high-alpine destination for day trips in the summer and skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter. With a Ski run, designated snowshoe trails and vistas that rival anything in the country, Hurricane Ridge should be your destination this winter.
“After an active fall repairing potholes, clearing culverts and preparing for winter storms, it’s time to focus on snow removal and providing weekend access to Hurricane Ridge,”
Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.
With Winter operations in full gear, we have put together a list of 9 things you should know to safely, and happily experience one of the crown jewels of the Olympic Mountains, Hurricane Ridge.
Hurricane Ridge Road Info
Because funding to the National Parks has been drastically cut, the Hurricane Ridge Road is scheduled to only be open Friday through Sunday, and also open on Monday holidays from November 28, 2014 through March 29, 2015. On Thursday, December 26 through January 4, 2015, the road is scheduled to be open all day. 2015-16 information not yet available.
For current road and weather conditions call: 360-565-3131.
You can also look at this website: http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/hurricane-ridge-current-conditions.htm
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From November 15 and April 1, EVERY vehicle, including those with four wheel drive, must carry tire chains when traveling above the Heart O’the Hills entrance station. The weather can change fast, so do not chance this one. Bring a pair of chains with you. Many stores sell chains, and if you do not use them during the winter will allow you to return them for a full refund. Be smart and be prepared.
The Hurricane Ridge Road may also close temporarily if the parking lot becomes completely full. To make best use of the available parking spaces, park staff urges Hurricane Ridge visitors to carpool and pay extra attention to making the best possible use of the parking area.
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is open when the road is open, except Fridays, starting December 13. It will be open daily from December 26 to January 4, 2015, as will the information desk.
On Fridays and before Dec. 13th, only the indoor restroom will be open. Starting December 13, the information desk will be staffed from 10am – 4pm on weekends until March 29, 2015.
According to park officials,
The Hurricane Ridge snack bar and ski shop, with both ski and snowshoe rentals, is scheduled to be open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekends and holiday Mondays from Saturday, December 13 through March 29; it will also be open daily from December 26 through January 4, 2015.
Ranger-Led Snowshoe Walks
This might be the last winter to have free snowshoe hikes with Rangers, thanks to budget issues, so make sure you take advantage of this! According to the official park press release,
Ranger-led snowshoe walks for individuals and families will be offered at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays from December 13 through March 29, as well as December 26 and January 1. Snowshoe walks last 90 minutes and are less than one mile in length. Space on the walks is limited, so people should sign up at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center information desk beginning 30 minutes before the scheduled walk. Snowshoe walks are offered snow permitting.
Organized groups such as youth or school groups must make advance reservations for snowshoe walks. Group snowshoe walks are provided Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays at 10:30 a.m. for groups holding reservations. Space is limited, so group leaders should call Olympic National Park at (360) 565-3136 for reservations and more information.
Downhill Ski and Snowboard Area
Hurricane Ridge is one of 3 Ski and Snowboard Park in the National Parks. The other two (Yosemite National Park’s Badger and Brandywine Ski Resort, Cuyahoga Valley National Park) are lame compared to Hurricane Ridge. With epic views of the Olympic Mountains to the South and stunning sights of Vancouver Island, Dungeness Spit and Mount Baker to the North and East, coming here is an absolute no-brainer. Olympic National Park tells us that:
Weather permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Ski, Snowboard and Tubing Area will operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays from December 7 through March 29, 2015. The area is also scheduled to be open daily from December 26 through January 4, 2015. More information about the Hurricane Ridge downhill ski and snowboard area is available at hurricaneridge.com.
Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing
I might be slightly biased on this, but every winter, snowshoe tours to the Hurricane Ridge region become the most memorable trips of the year. With spectacular views on sunny days, incredible snow covered trees after storms and amazing experiences while snowing, Hurricane Ridge is the perfect spot to experience winter. You could go to Mount Rainier, but the views aren’t that great and the crowds are usually too much of a hassle. Change up your winter plans and come to the Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge this winter. You will not regret it!
The Park would like you to know,
Opportunities for cross-country skiers and snowshoe walkers range from open, level meadows near the visitor center to extreme terrain in the park’s wilderness backcountry. Anyone skiing or snowshoeing beyond the immediate Hurricane Ridge area should sign-in at the registration box in the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and be prepared for steep terrain and the possibility of avalanches.
Be aware of the avalanche risk and watch where you are walking. While the snow is beautiful, it can also turn deadly with one wrong step. Always check the conditions of the snow before you head up and stay on marked trails. I know it is tempting to take cool pictures, but is it really worth your life?
Great Avalanche Website: http://www.nwac.us/forecast/avalanche/current/zone/1/
Sledding is an incredibly popular activity at Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge, but is only allowed for those 8 years old and younger. That applies at the Children’s Snowplay Area a few feet from the visitor center.
For those looking for more serious sledding, the Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard area will be operating a tubing park. More information can be found at hurricaneridge.com.
Olympic National Park Visitor Center
For those looking for a less snowy experience around Hurricane Ridge, National Park officials encourage everyone to stop by the Olympic National Park Visitor Center and Wilderness Information Center, located at the Heart O’the Hills Road. The Visitorc Center and WIC is open daily throughout the winter from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except for Thanksgiving (November 22) and Christmas (December 25.)