Snow is falling in the mountains, time to head for the hills. And if you’re thinking Hurricane Ridge, above Port Angeles here is your guide, provided by the Olympic National Park on when to go and what to do:
“Thanksgiving weekend begins the snow season at Hurricane Ridge,” said Olympic National Park Acting Superintendent Rachel Spector. “Weather permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Road will be open Friday through Sunday throughout the winter season.”
From the ONP press release:
Hurricane Ridge Road
Weather permitting; the Hurricane Ridge Road is scheduled to be open Friday through Sunday and Monday holidays from November 25, 2016 through March 26, 2017. The road will be closed on Sunday, December 25, Christmas Day and is scheduled to be open daily from Monday, December 26 through Monday, January 2, 2017.
All vehicles, including four wheel drive, are required to carry tire chains when traveling above the Heart O’the Hills entrance station between Thanksgiving and the last weekend of March. “Having a set of chains in every vehicle gives an extra safety margin when road conditions worsen during the day,” said Acting Superintendent Spector.
Winter storms can close or delay opening of the Hurricane Ridge Road; high winds and blizzard conditions are not uncommon. Road and weather condition updates are available on the park’s Road and Weather Hotline at (360) 565-3131 or @HRWinterAccess on Twitter.
The Hurricane Ridge Road may also close temporarily if the parking lot becomes completely full. Park staff urges Hurricane Ridge visitors to carpool and pay extra attention to making the best possible use of the parking area.
Weather permitting, Hurricane Ridge Road usually opens at 9:00 a.m., but times vary according to road and weather conditions. The road closes to uphill traffic at 4:00 p.m. and all vehicles must exit the Heart of the Hills entrance station by 5:00 p.m.
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is scheduled to be open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday and Monday holidays beginning November 25 through March 26, 2017. It will be also be open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily from December 26 through January 2, 2017. The information desk will be staffed from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. whenever the visitor center is open. The visitor center will be closed on Christmas Day, Sunday December 25.
Deli and Ski Shop
The Hurricane Ridge Deli and Rental 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 10 through March 26, 2017; it will also be open daily from December 26 through January 2, 2017 and closed on Christmas Day, Sunday December 25.
Ranger-Led Snowshoe Walks
Ranger-led snowshoe walks for individuals and families are offered at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays from December 17 through March 26, 2017. The walks last 90 minutes and are less than one mile in length. A $7 participation fee is charged for adults, with a $3 fee for youth from 6-15 years old. Admission is free for children five years of age and younger.
Space on the walks is limited to 25 individuals, so people should sign up at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center information desk beginning 30 minutes before the scheduled walk.
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, Snowboard and Tubing Area
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 beginning Sunday, December 4 through March 26, 2017. The area is also scheduled to be open daily from December 23 through January 2, 2017, except for Sunday, December 25, Christmas Day. More information about the Hurricane Ridge downhill ski and snowboard area is available at hurricaneridge.comcall (848) 667-7669.
Tubing and Sliding
The Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard area operates a tubing park; check hurricaneridge.com for cost information, details and updates.
Tubing and sliding are permitted free of charge for children eight years of age and younger, at the Small Children’s Snowplay Area just west of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. If conditions become too dangerous for sliding, the Small Children’s Snowplay Area will be closed.
Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing
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. Although close to town, Hurricane Ridge is subject to extreme winter conditions, including sudden storms, white-outs and avalanche, making planning and preparation for winter conditions vitally important.
Information about ski and snowshoe routes and trails is available at park visitor centers, the Olympic National Park website or the park’s visitor newspaper, the Bugler.
Overnight Wilderness Camping
Overnight wilderness camping is permitted in the Hurricane Ridge area with advance registration. Winter camps must be at least one-half mile from the Hurricane Ridge parking area. Overnight parking is not permitted at Hurricane Ridge; parking and shuttle options are explained at the time of registration. More information is available by calling Olympic National Park Visitor Center & Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100.
Hurricane Ridge Webcam and Weather Station
Hurricane Ridge weather conditions are available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/olymand then clicking on “Webcams”. The webcam image is updated every 15 minutes (although severe weather can cause webcam outages); weather station information is provided hourly.
Olympic National Park Visitor Center
The Olympic National Park Visitor Center & Wilderness Information Center at the base of Hurricane Ridge Road, is open daily throughout the winter from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
More information about visiting Hurricane Ridge and other areas of Olympic National Park is available at www.nps.gov/olym.