Snowboarders Rejoice as Powder Returns to Olympic National Park

Winter snows have finally arrived at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, and local snow-sports enthusiasts couldn’t be happier. For the first time in what feels like a lifetime, enough powdery goodness fell on the ridge, allowing for snowboarders, skiers and snowshoers a chance to frolic in one of the greatest winter playgrounds in America. High above the Lillian River Valley, giving panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Hurricane Ridge is one of the crown jewels of Olympic National Park. Hurricane Ridge is one of just three ski areas in the National Park Service, and with no real snow in the winter of 2014-15, the recent snowfall was met with excitement and giddiness by the local snowboarding community. 

On December 11th, 2015, Hurricane Ridge open their gates and allowed snow lovers to finally experience powder at the ridge. With 35 inches of fresh powder, 13 of which fell over two days, Hurricane Ridge finally offered the perfect mix of fresh snow and an open road. The 17 mile long road from Port Angeles, Washington to Hurricane Ridge is closed the majority of the week during the winter, thanks to budget cuts around our National Parks. Hurricane Ridge does offer a ski lift for most of the winter, but it hasn’t opened since the winter of 2013-14 due to lack of snow. While the lifts still aren’t open, this winter is looking promising to locals who want to “Ride the Ridge” all winter long.

One of the few who trekked up to experience the pristine winter conditions was Mitch Zenobi, a good friend of our website and avid enthusiasts of everything that makes the Olympic Peninsula awesome. On Friday, December 11th, he and his brother decided to skip a trip to watch 30ft swells slam against the coast. Instead, they headed up to Hurricane Ridge to experience powder in the area for the first time since April 1st of 2014.

While I could try to write beautiful words to describe just how awesome of a day Mitch and Zach Zenobi had, I will instead defer to the words of Mitch, who was kind enough to answer a few questions and share his pictures from a well-deserved powder day at Hurricane Ridge. Hopefully, this is the first of many days where we get to enjoy the awesome views and incredible snow at The Ridge.

Zach Zenobi walking up toward Sunrise Ridge in the Hurricane Ridge Region of Olympic National Park. Image by Mitch Zenobi
Zach Zenobi walking up toward Sunrise Ridge in the Hurricane Ridge Region of Olympic National Park. Image by Mitch Zenobi

What was it like to finally experience the snow at Hurricane Ridge? 

The last time I boarded at Hurricane Ridge was the 1st of April, 2014…it seems like forever ago. Returning to the ridge was like meeting a life long friend that you hadn’t seen in years. You want to hug them, spend time with them, and tell them how much they’ve been missed, and to never leave again.


 

A standard wintery scene from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. Image by Mitch Zenobi
A standard wintery scene from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. Image by Mitch Zenobi

What makes Hurricane Ridge so awesome to you?

What makes The Hurricane so awesome to me is the peace and joy I feel when I’m up there. I forget about life’s day-to-day ups and downs, and I just zone into this love feeling for that mountain and it’s surroundings.


 

Taking in the view near Sunrise Ridge in the Hurricane Ridge Region of Olympic National Park. Image by Mitch Zenobi
Taking in the view near Sunrise Ridge in the Hurricane Ridge Region of Olympic National Park. Image by Mitch Zenobi

Honestly, how close to tears were you when you took your first run?

It was a wave of emotions all hitting me at once. I wanted to cry, I wanted to laugh, I wanted to scream at the heavens with the utmost joy; I wanted to just look at and absorb Hurricane Ridge’s beauty. That first run washed away a year and a half of no snow sorrows, filling my soul with passion and excitement.


 

 

Walking up toward Sunrise Ridge in the Hurricane Ridge Region of Olympic National Park. Image by Mitch Zenobi
Walking up toward Sunrise Ridge in the Hurricane Ridge Region of Olympic National Park. Image by Mitch Zenobi

Do you think the snow will last this year?

I have a feeling this year is going to be amazing! Snow lovers have waited too long to get back in the mountains and ride, and I think we will get to enjoy a great season in the mountains we call home.

 

Want to experience snow in Olympic National Park?

Get the information you need from our quick Guide to Winter at Hurricane Ridge!

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By Doug and Mathias on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

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