WEEKEND: Hurricane Ridge Road begins winter schedule
A still from the webcam at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center on Thursday morning shows very little snow has fallen at the popular winter sports area.
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Hurricane Ridge Road will be open Fridays through Sundays and on Monday holidays through March 30, weather permitting.
As of Thursday, only 6 inches of snow was recorded at Hurricane Ridge, which is 17 miles south of Port Angeles.
But that can change quickly. And when it does, the road may be closed until the storm blows over and the road is plowed.
All vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive, must carry tire chains when traveling above the Heart o' the Hills entrance station until April 1 in case the weather changes while visitors are enjoying the sights and activities at the 5,242-foot elevation.
Whether to open Hurricane Ridge Road is a decision made each Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the winter season and is based on staff assessment of road and weather conditions, along with forecasts and information from the National Weather Service and the Northwest Avalanche Center, the park said.
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is open when the road is open, with restrooms, exhibits, park film and a warming area.
The Hurricane Ridge snack bar and ski shop, with both ski and snowshoe rentals, will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays beginning this Saturday through March 30.
Park entrance fees are $15 for a vehicle, $5 for an individual or $30 for an annual pass.
Ranger-led snowshoe walks will not be offered this winter.
The Hurricane Ridge ski, snowboard and tubing areas will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays from Dec. 7 through March 30.
More information about the Hurricane Ridge downhill ski and snowboard area is available at www.hurricaneridge.com.
Opportunities for cross-country skiers and snowshoe walkers range from open meadows near the visitor center to extreme terrain in the park's wilderness backcountry.
The park suggests that anyone skiing or snowshoeing beyond the immediate Hurricane Ridge area sign in at the registration box in the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and be prepared for steep terrain and the possibility of avalanches.
Information about ski and snowshoe routes and trails is available at park visitor centers, the park website or the park's visitor newspaper, Olympic Bugler.
During the winter, a private charter service that is not affiliated with the park offers rides to and from Hurricane Ridge every day that it is open.
All Points Charters & Tours departs at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. from The Landing mall on Railroad Avenue in Port Angeles and returns from the Ridge at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
An additional pickup is at the Vern Burton Community Center at Fourth and Peabody streets in Port Angeles.
The fee is $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger, with those younger than 6 admitted free. The park entry fee is an additional $5 for those in the van.
Phone 360-460-7131 to make a reservation.
Other opportunities in the park in the winter range from indoor comforts — such as ocean storm-watching from the Kalaloch Lodge along the park's Pacific Coast or lakeside dining at Lake Crescent Lodge — to outdoor excursions, camping and hiking.
“Every season at Olympic brings its own magic, and for the prepared visitor, winter can be an excellent time to experience the many facets of the park,” Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said.
Creachbaum also said the park is using caution in spending.
“When the government shutdown ended [in October], Congress provided funds to operate the parks through Jan. 15,” she said.
Final funding for 2014 won't be resolved until then, she said.
“In this uncertain environment, we are aiming to provide services to our winter visitors while ensuring we have adequate funding in reserve for summer when we have our highest visitation,” Creachbaum said.
On the coast
Kalaloch Lodge is open year-round and offers overnight lodging, a dining room and a gift shop. More information is available at www.thekalalochlodge.com.
Kalaloch, Mora and Ozette campgrounds are open throughout the winter.
Both Kalaloch and Mora campgrounds have running water and flush toilets; vault toilets are available in the Ozette campground.
The park suggest that visitors check a current tide table and weather report before venturing onto the beach and stay away from beach logs, which are easily tossed by waves.
The Forks Information Station is closed for the season.
In the woods
Lake Crescent Lodge has extended its season this year and offers overnight lodging, a dining room and a gift shop through Dec. 31.
For more information, visit www.olympicnationalparks.com.
The Hoh Rain Forest area, with walking trails and a campground, remains open throughout the winter, weather permitting.
Running water and flush toilets remain in operation in the Hoh Campground.
The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center will be closed for the season Monday and will be reopened in early March.
The Quinault Graves Creek Campground is open through the winter, with vault toilets available.
The Sol Duc Road and campground remain open, weather and road conditions permitting, throughout the winter.
Snow accumulations may cause the road to be closed for extended time periods.
Vault toilets are available in the campground.
The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is closed for the season and will reopen in March.
The Elwha Valley and Elwha Campground remain open, with vault toilets available at the campground.
Heart o' the Hills Campground is open with running water and flush toilets available. Snow accumulation may cause the campground to become walk-in only.
The Staircase area is open; the campground is open for walk-in camping only. Vault toilets are available in the campground.
For more information
Current information about the road to Hurricane Ridge south of Port Angeles is posted on the park website at www.nps.gov/olym and on the hotline at 360-565-3131.
Current weather information is available at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles, open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be closed Dec. 25.
More information about visiting Hurricane Ridge and other areas of the park is available at www.nps.gov/olym, at the park's Facebook page and by following “HRWinterAccess” on Twitter.
Last modified: November 28. 2013 4:22PM