Winter Bugler 2017-2018

A panoramic view of snowy mountaintops with patches of evergreen trees

Hurricane Ridge, the focus of winter recreation in Olympic National Park,
earns its name in winter. Storms, high winds, snow drifts or high avalanche
conditions may delay crews working to plow the road, or force an early closure.
The Hurricane Ridge parking lot often fills early, causing long delays at the Heart
O’ the Hills entrance station. Please carpool and park close to other vehicles at
Hurricane Ridge.

Is Hurricane Ridge open right now? Check here or call (360) 565-3131, and see below for winter schedule.

Hurricane Ridge Road and Visitor Center: For safety, all vehicles (including 4WD) traveling above Heart O’ the Hills on the Hurricane Ridge Road between November 1 and April 1 must carry tire chains. From November 24, 2017 thru April 1, 2018, it is open 9-4 weather permitting Friday-Sunday, plus holiday Mondays (January 1, 15 and February 19, 2018), as
well as December 26-28. Closed Monday-Thursday and December 25. During this winter plowing schedule, the road closes to uphill traffic at 4:00 p.m. and all vehicles must be below the Heart O’ the Hills gate by 5:00 p.m. After April 1 the road may be open as weather, staffing and road conditions allow. By early May the road is usually open 24 hours a day.

Hurricane Ridge Deli & Rental Shop: From December 8, 2017 through April 1,
2018, food and ski/snowshoe rentals are available at Hurricane Ridge 10-4
Friday thru Sunday and holiday Mondays, as well as December 26 through
January 1. Closed December 25 and April 2-May 4. Starting May 5, 2018
gift shop/deli hours will be 10-6 weekends only through May 20, then daily
starting May 25. May open other days as conditions allows.

Hurricane Ridge Downhill Ski, Snowboard & Tubing Area has two rope tows,
a poma lift and tubing park, and is operated by the Hurricane Ridge Winter
Sports Club, It operates 10-4 weekends and
holiday Mondays (January 1 and 15, February 19) from December 3, 2017
through April 1, 2018, as well as December 26 to 29 and March 16. Closed
December 24 and 25. Full day rates are $34 for all runs, $32 half day. Rope
tows for full and half day are $26 and $24. Tube park rate (including tubes)
is $10 per hour. Only tubes furnished by the ski area will be permitted in
their tube park. Cross country skiers in the ski area must use ski leashes.

Skiing/Snowboard/Snowshoeing Lessons: Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club offers
winter sports lessons for ages four and up. Private lessons are also available. For
more information see or (848) 667-7669.

Equipment Rentals: Several businesses on the Olympic Peninsula and in the
Puget Sound area rent winter recreational equipment. Hurricane Ridge Rental
Shop (hours and dates below) packages include skis, boots and poles. The
shop requires a driver’s license to rent equipment.

Location Cross-Country Downhill Snowshoes
Hurricane Ridge
(no phone)
$32/day $37/day
$42/day w/helmet
$23 w/poles

Camping: The closest vehicle camping is at Heart O’ the Hills. Backpackers must
get a permit at the WIC. Because of storms, overnight winter parking is not
allowed at Hurricane Ridge.You must park 3.3 miles below the Ridge at Third
Peak. Camps must be 1/2 mile away from the Hurricane
Ridge parking lot and out of sight of ski/snowshoe trails. Be prepared for a
snowy drive down in case a storm forces a road closure on your return day.


Snowshoe With A Ranger

Join a ranger to experience winter wonders on snowshoes. If you can walk, you can snowshoe! Snowshoes and instructions provided. Cost is $7 for adults, $3 for youth 6-15 years old, free for children 5 years old and under. Participants should prepare for cold, snow, wind or even rain. Dress in layers, wear warm, waterproof boots and bring hats, mittens, sunscreen and sunglasses. If the road is closed, walks are cancelled.

Snowshoe Walks: From December 16, 2017 through April 1, 2018, snow permitting, this easy to moderate walk is offered at 2:00 p.m. on weekends and holiday Mondays (January 1 and 15, February 19). The walk lasts 1.5 hours and covers less than a mile. Group size is limited to 25 people. Signup starts at the Hurricane Ridge information desk 30 minutes before the walk.

Snowshoe Walks for Community Groups: Clubs, youth groups or schools can reserve a 10:30 a.m. walk for groups of 7 to 25 people. From December 16, 2017 through April 1, 2018, these 1.5-hour walks are offered on weekends and holiday Mondays (January 1 and 15, February 19), snow permitting. Reservations must be made in advance by calling (360) 565-3136.
A topographic map of ski trails in the Hurricane Ridge area
Cross country ski and snowshoe areas around Hurricane Ridge.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

With its easy access and 15 to 20 miles of routes, Hurricane Ridge is the focus
of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Olympic National Park. Though
winter explorers of all abilities can enjoy the area, flat, easy, beginner ski terrain
is limited to the meadows above the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Backcountry
skiers can explore several slopes and bowls in the area. No trails are groomed or
marked; however, two routes use unplowed roads which can usually be navigated.

SKIERS: Do your part to help everyone enjoy this area. Snowshoers, walkers and
snowboarders, please stay to one side to avoid damaging the ski tracks on trails,
and do not snowshoe or walk through the downhill ski area.

Before heading out on any trip remember to register at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and check current avalanche conditions. Below are descriptions of routes in the Hurricane Ridge area.


The Meadows
The meadows above the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center offer gentle, easy terrain
for everyone and excellent views in fair weather. Because the meadows are
exposed to the sun and wind, they can be icy or wind packed.

More Difficult

Hurricane Hill Road 1.3mi/2.1 km one way
Beginning just west of the visitor center, this trail first descends steeply, then
follows the rolling, moderate ridgeline along the unplowed Hurricane Hill Road.
Experienced skiers can use this trail to reach the Hurricane Hill Route (see Most
Difficult), as well as several bowls for backcountry skiing. In clear weather there
are good views to the north and south, especially at the trail/road terminus at the
Hurricane Hill trailhead. Much of this ridgetop trail is sheltered by a subalpine
forest, making it a good choice in windy, inclement weather or when there is
elevated avalanche hazard.

Wolf Creek Trail 8 mi/12.9 km one way to Whiskey Bend
This route begins 0.6 miles west of the visitor center along the unplowed
Hurricane Hill Road (see above) and descends through meadows and forests into
the Elwha Valley. There are several south-facing slopes near the beginning which
are good for backcountry skiing. The Wolf Creek Trail is seldom snow-covered
at lower elevations. Users usually just descend a few miles through forest and
several meadows with nice south views, then return the same way.

Obstruction Point Road: To Waterhole 3.4 mi/5.5 km one way
Rather than descend the exposed, steep, often drifted and icy route of the summer
Obstruction Point Road, the winter route starts at the sharp curve along the
Hurricane Ridge Road, 0.5 miles below the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Park
in the pull-off below the curve, cross to the east side of the road and walk the snow
bank back uphill to the curve. After descending a steep but short meadow, the route
intersects and follows the unplowed Obstruction Point Road. Other than the initial descent, the first 1.5 miles are relatively easy and sheltered
by forest. After a steep climb, the route crosses below Steeple Rock and onto a
short section of exposed slopes which can be drifted, icy and difficult to traverse.
After that, the trail flattens and meanders through sheltered subalpine forest.
Beyond Waterhole, it climbs steeply (see below).

Most Difficult

Hurricane Hill Route 1.6 mi/2.6 km one way
This route starts at the end of the Hurricane Hill Road route and climbs 700 feet
to the summit of Hurricane Hill. There are several very steep sidehills if users
follow the summer trail route, so use extreme caution under icy or elevated
avalanche hazard conditions. As an alternative, skiers and snowshoers can follow
the ridgeline, which has fewer steep sections. Be careful to stay off cornices that
build up along the lee side of the ridge. Under good conditions, advanced skiers or
snowshoers will find this a rewarding trip with good views and some nice slopes.

Obstruction Point Road: Waterhole to end 4.3 mi/6.9 km one way
(Obstruction Point Road is 7.8 mi/12.5 km one way)
This route begins midway out the unplowed Obstruction Point Road (see
description above for the first 3.4 miles to Waterhole). After Waterhole, the route
gains 900 feet, climbing steadily for 0.5 miles to open slopes on Eagle Point. In
clear weather, views can be spectacular but steep sidehills and exposure to storms
make this a difficult route. It is recommended only under good conditions for
experienced skiers. Travel beyond Obstruction Point can entail steep terrain with
high avalanche potential.

Sunrise Ridge 2.1 mi/3.4 km one way
Begin this route by crossing below the intermediate rope tow and tube park, then
climbing to the right of the ski hill (stay right of the trees). After crossing under
the top of the ski area’s intermediate rope tow, this route follows a narrow ridge
toward the south side of Mount Angeles. There are several avalanche prone areas
along the way, so check conditions and use caution under unstable conditions. Be
especially careful to stay off cornices that form along the ridge and side ridges.
Several nice slopes on the east side descend to the Hurricane Ridge Road.

Other Areas

Depending on the snow level, other roads and trails in the park and in Olympic
National Forest may be snow-covered. Check at the visitor center for current snow
levels. The Deer Park Road may provide opportunities. For safety, this steep,
narrow road is closed to cars at the park boundary, 9 miles from Highway 101, at
around 2,000 feet of elevation. The road climbs steadily about 9 more miles from
the park boundary up to Blue Mountain. If the snow level is low enough, the road
may be skiable from the boundary; but users usually need to hike several miles
before reaching snow.

For other routes on the Olympic Peninsula, refer to guides such as 100 Best
Cross-Country Ski Trails in Washington
, by Tom Kirkendall and Vicky Spring,
Snowshoe Routes: Washington by Dan Nelson, or Backcountry Ski and
Snowboard Routes: Washington
by Martin Volken.

Snow Sliding

Snow sliding is a favorite pastime for some, but it has also been one of the most dangerous activities at Hurricane Ridge. Serious injuries, even permanent disabilities occurred when people collided with trees, other sliders, or lost control and ended up in the road. For your safety, sliding/tubing is permitted in only two locations:
  • The Small Children’s Snowplay Area near the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center where children eight and under may slide.For the safety of participants, metal or hard plastic runner sleds and wooden toboggans are not permitted.
  • The tubing park operated by the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club in the downhill ski area. Only tubes provided by the ski area are permitted in their tubing park.
Sliding is not allowed anywhere else in the Hurricane area or along the Hurricane Ridge Road.

Perspectives Winter Speaker Series

Learn more about your park at the free Perspectives winter speaker series. Talks
are at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month, November through April.
Due to renovation of the Olympic National Park Visitor Center, talks will be at
the Port Angeles Library, 2210 South Peabody St., Port Angeles. Refreshments
provided by Friends of Olympic National Park.

December 12 - Ozette Archeology: A Retrospective
Paul Gleeson, Chief of Cultural Resources–retired, Olympic National Park
Over 300 years ago a mudslide at the Ozette village crushed buildings and
encapsulated a moment of rich village life and Makah tradition. Evidence of this
tragedy surfaced in 1966, offering an extraordinary view of the past. Learn about
this discovery from Paul Gleeson, who worked on the excavation.

January 9 - Geology and Earthquakes on the Olympic Peninsula
Dann May, Peninsula College
Evidence on the landscape reveals the history of a massive earthquake and
tsunami that struck this region in 1700. Learn how these destructive geologic
forces have shaped the dramatic and beautiful landscape in our backyard.

February 13 - Fishers on the Olympic Peninsula
Patricia Happe, Ph.D., Wildlife Biologist, Olympic National Park
Fishers were reintroduced to Olympic National Park in 2008-2010 and quickly
spread throughout the Peninsula. Dr. Happe will share the latest results from the
multi-agency monitoring of this forest carnivore’s comeback.

March 13 - A Final Assessment of Elwha Revegetation
Josh Chenoweth, Restoration Ecologist, Olympic National Park
Come learn the results of six years of revegetation efforts in the Elwha reservoirs
and hear predictions on future vegetation changes. As active revegetation winds
down and nature takes over, learn what worked and what didn’t.

April 10 - Whale Rescue
John Calambokidis, Research Biologist, Cascadia Research
A dramatic response by multiple agencies led to the successful rescue of a
stranded gray whale from a beach near Kalaloch in Olympic National Park.
Come listen to those whose efforts helped rescue the whale and get an update
on the latest gray whale research.

Last updated: January 15, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

600 E. Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362


(360) 565-3130

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