OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Hurricane Ridge has electricity now.
An electrical transformer has been found to be operational — and that means not only more people can visit the popular location daily this summer but also that Olympic National Park is a big step closer to being able to offer winter sports there.
Vehicle capacity was increased by 85 to 430 on Saturday after officials opened the two parking lot restrooms and relocated the six portable toilets from the picnic area to the main parking lot.
Winter access to the Ridge has been uncertain since the May 7 fire destroyed the 71-year-old, 12,201-square-foot day lodge. Park officials reopened the site in late June to summer visitors, but the availability of sanitation and electricity would determine if winter sports would be offered.
It was after debris was removed from the site — Hurricane Ridge Road was closed Aug. 15-17 to allow it to be carted off — that crew members tested the transformer and found it to be functional.
“We got electricity up there,” said Amos Almy, park spokesperson, on Saturday.
That means water can be pumped, allowing sanitation facilities to be moved. Water at the picnic areas will remain non-potable.
Visitors are cautioned against drinking water in the picnic area restrooms.
The next step is to dig trenches from the electrical panel to the radio tower, Almy said.
“If we can’t have radio communications this winter, then nothing else can happen” in the remote park, he added.
“We rely greatly on radio,” he said. “Right now, it’s being run on solar and propane backup generators, which wouldn’t be feasible in the winter.”
The hope is that the trenches can be dug in September.
The investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing; the cause of the blaze remains unknown, Almy said.
Visitors who arrive early in the day, before 9 a.m., have the best chance for entry to Hurricane Ridge.
Clallam Transit will continue operating the Hurricane Ridge shuttle, with departures daily from The Gateway transit center at 123 E. Front St. in Port Angeles through Oct. 9.
No reservations are accepted. Bus seats are first come, first served.
For information, see https://www.clallamtransit.com/HurricaneRidge.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at email@example.com.