“Winter means everything to us. Riding snow is our passion, and Hurricane Ridge is our Valhalla.” ~ Mitch Zenobi
There are those who gaze up at the Olympic Mountains from the beautiful, remote city of Port Angeles, Washington. Sitting on a bar stool, sipping a local brew and looking at the clouds, a handful of Olympic Peninsula residents wait impatiently for it to snow. Watching 5,000 feet from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, pairs of eyes scan the ridges, hoping that powdery magic has fallen. While I don’t live in Port Angeles, my eyes also dart toward the Olympic summits, eagerly anticipating the return of winter snow. Go and explore Hurricane Ridge in the winter wonderland this weekend!
Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area is the only place to ski or snowboard on the Olympic Peninsula, and might be one of the most underrated venues to enjoy the winter snow on the west coast. Sitting eight miles (17 miles of road) south of Port Angeles, Washington, Hurricane Ridge is home to one of only three skiing areas in the National Park Service.
The locals who call this park their own aren’t here for state of the art facilities or the flashy elements of large skiing and snowboarding complexes. Instead, they are here for small crowds, great powder and stunning panoramic views. They are here for amazing backcountry experiences and groomed runs overlooking glaciers, rainforests, waterways and Canada. They are here to experience a winter wonderland that averages 400 inches of amazing snow. Hurricane Ridge should be immensely popular; yet, it isn’t due to isolation, access and size.
Port Angeles is a scenic three hours drive from Seattle, making it a destination snow lovers can’t pass up. Those who do drive out will have more than just Hurricane Ridge’s ten trails, accessed by two rope tows, and one lift. They will have panoramic views that are photographed in magazines around the world. They will see water, snow, rainforest, glaciers and rocky summits, while enjoying the feeling of privacy and solitude. While only officially sporting an elevation drop of 800 feet, there are a handful of backcountry ridges and lines to explore for memorable runs. For those not up for finding their own adventure, Hurricane Ridge does have a terrain park with natural hits, jumps and rails.
While I could go on in great detail about winter at Hurricane Ridge, I’ll hold off. I can tell you that Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snow Board area did not open in 2014-15 due to lack of snow and last year wasn’t too great either. In order to operate, Hurricane Ridge has to have 26 inches as a base, and we currently have 34 inches.
One issue to watch is access. If we do get a great snow year, the budget constraints to Olympic National Park could mean we only will have the road plowed and open one or two days a week. As I get new information on any of these issues, I will provide updated articles. Hopefully, we get snow, and will have enough of a budget to keep the road open and plowed for more days this winter. Probably not though. You can learn more about the plowing issue by checking out the awesome people at Free Hurricane Ridge.
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 December 3rd. The Hurricane Ridge Area is also tentatively scheduled to be open daily from December 22nd through January 2, 2018, except for Monday, December 25, Christmas Day. More information about when the Hurricane Ridge downhill ski and snowboard area is available at hurricaneridge.com call (848) 667-7669.
Remember that all vehicles must carry tire chains during the winter months when visiting Hurricane Ridge. For the most current road conditions and information on the region, call 360-565-3131 or check @HRWinterAccess on Twitter.
Those hoping to get the rust off or learn to ski and snowboard are in luck! According to the Peninsula Daily News, “Private ski and snowboard lessons will be available starting Dec. 15 with advance reservations only. Full school operations start Jan. 6.”
Winter is here and I’ll make sure to bring you the most updated, accurate information I can about snowpack and accessibility. Until then, sit back and watch a video to get you excited about experiencing snow at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.