High above the shipping lanes of the Strait of Jan de Fuca, looming over the majestic Elwha river valley, up a road that snakes its way of the steep mountains of the Olympic Peninsula, Hurricane Ridge offers a lifetime of sights in one majestic spot. This area is what defines the Olympic Peninsula.
The Olympic Peninsula isn’t the rainforest, though that plays a major part.
It isn’t the coast off LaPush or Kalaloch; though the sea stacks colliding with the mighty Pacific Ocean is a gorgeous scene.
It isn’t even Mountain Goats perching against a backdrop of Mount Rainier, high above Lake Cushman and Hood Canal.
To many, the Olympic Peninsula is the view from Hurricane Ridge. A view from above, showcasing miles of mountains, lush rainforest river valleys and the sheer dominance of the mountains while looking toward Canada. The vista at Hurricane Hill is awe inspiring.
It is the image I see while stuck in traffic, sitting in a dental chair or suffering through another Canucks overtimes loss. Like Happy Gilmore, I often drift off to my happy place, on a mountain ridge, taking in amazing views with marmots, deer, ravens and a never ending breeze.
Hurricane Ridge is the location of an old lookout tower during WWII. Lucky for us, one of the best wildlife photographers and his wife were watching the skies and taking pictures.
Years before that in 1885, the “Seattle Press Expedition” was sent out to document the area. They spotted Hurricane Hill and named it “Mount Eldridge” after William C. Eldridge, a peer in the field of Journalism.
While these facts are awesome, they aren’t nearly as cool as the way it got to be named “Hurricane Ridge.”
On an extremely windy day in 1897, a prospector climbed up to Hurricane Ridge from the Elwha River. As he passed wildflowers, amazing views, marmots and deer, W.A. Hall eventually made his way to the summit of what is now Hurricane Hill. Standing atop of one of the best views in the world, he was struggling to stand. Cartoonishly, he leaned forward to remain on his feet, his long white beard blowing in his weather beaten face.
As the 100 miles per hour winds slammed against him, he muttered, “This must be a dag-gum Hurricane.”
Ok, that probably isn’t what he said, but the story is still 100% real. Hurricane Ridge was named because a prospector decided, on a super windy day, to go stand on top of a mountain.
The winds, usually from the southeast, are caused by shifting air pressure in the nearly 10 mile gap from the Bailey Range to Hurricane Ridge. Winds speed through the forests below, barely rusting a tree in the valley.
When they hit the mountain, where W.A. Hall was standing, they feel like a Hurricane. It was then that the terms “Hurricane Hill” and “Hurricane Ridge” entered the local’s dialect to describe the area high above them.
To us locals, Hurricane Ridge is a place of snow, wildflowers, marmot and deer. Sunny skies, intense blizzards and a scenic drive; Hurricane Ridge is full of memories. From the Seattle Press Expedition travelling along the Elwha and seeing Hurricane Hill, to good old W.A. Hall dealing with a windy day that would forever go on to change the name of the region, Hurricane Ridge has a history full of people discovering new experiences.
When will you get blown away at Hurricane Ridge?
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