NEWS ALERT — Hurricane Ridge Road won't be open weekdays this winter

PORT ANGELES — An experiment, partially subsidized with Port Angeles and Sequim city and Clallam County funds, to keep Olympic National Park's Hurricane Ridge ski area open during winter weekdays won't happen this winter.

Park officials announced that the road to the mile-high top will revert to Friday-Sunday access — always weather-permitting — late next month.

The 17-mile road into the Olympics south from Port Angeles remains open daily until late November.

Olympic National Park's statement:

“Despite the best efforts of our local community, Olympic National Park
employees and National Park Service staff in Washington, D.C., weekday
winter access to Hurricane Ridge did not lead to a sufficient increase in
visitors,” said Todd Suess, Olympic National Park acting superintendent.

“Unfortunately, given the fiscal realities of today, we cannot justify the
use of over $325,000 in community donations and taxpayer money to maintain
weekday winter access to Hurricane Ridge Road for a relatively small number
of people.”

At the urging of Port Angeles area community leaders, the Washington, D.C.
office of the National Park Service provided a two-year $250,000 annual
funding increase to the Olympic National Park budget, contingent on $75,000
in matching funds from the local community. The community met this
challenge each year through aggressive fund-raising campaigns that netted
several large contributions from the cities of Port Angeles and Sequim,
Clallam County and many smaller donations from local organizations and
individuals.

The temporary increase in funding provided a two-year trial period during
which visitor and economic benefits of daily winter access to Hurricane
Ridge would be measured and evaluated. Park staff established a visitation
benchmark as its measure of success, aiming for the average number of
winter weekday visitors to equal at least 45 percent of the five-year average of
winter weekend visitors.

“Although we and our community partners joined forces to promote awareness
and interest in weekday visits to Hurricane Ridge, we did not reach our 45%
benchmark,” explained Suess. During the two-year trial period, weekday
visitation averaged 19 percent of the five-year average for visits on weekend
days.

Most of the park's roads, including those leading to popular rain forest
and coastal destinations, are located at lower elevations and remain open
year-round. “Keeping Hurricane Ridge Road open daily through the winter is
a very different task than providing daily access to the park's low
elevation roads, and is significantly more costly and difficult,” Suess
remarked.

Weather permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Road will be open Friday through
Sunday, 9 a.m. to dusk through the winter season, plus additional days
during the winter holidays, including the Christmas through New Year's Day
week, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Washington's Birthday.

More details about the Hurricane Ridge winter season will be released later
this month as additional planning is completed by park and concessioner
staff.

Last modified: October 17. 2012 9:58AM
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