Go play in the snow: Hurricane Ridge open over holiday weekends except Christmas Day (***GALLERY***)

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Those new skis, snowshoes or sleds can be tried out at Hurricane Ridge the day after Christmas.

Neither the road to the snowy playground 17 miles south of Port Angeles nor the visitor center or other activities will be open Saturday — Christmas Day — but today, Sunday and Monday, Hurricane Ridge will host a variety of winter activities — including the first day of downhill skiing on the Ridge on Sunday.

The Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club will operate tows to the top of the ski runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and Monday, said Craig Hofer, mountain manager.

Most weekends, the tow ropes and Poma lift are open only Saturdays and Sundays, but because of the Christmas holiday, they will be open Sunday and Monday too.

New Year’s weekend

Next weekend, the club will operate the tows Friday, Dec. 31, Saturday, Jan. 1, and Sunday, Jan. 2, in celebration of the new year.

Sledding for children 8 and younger and snowshoe walks also will be available.

People have been trickling in daily to see the snowy side of Hurricane Ridge since last Friday, when Olympic National Park began a daily schedule for the road, said park Deputy Superintendent Todd Suess.

The usual limited extended weekend schedule for Hurricane Ridge during late fall and winter lapsed, and the road is now open from 9 a.m. to dusk every day — if weather permits.

About $77,000 in donations — which included $5,000 from the city of Sequim, $20,000 from Clallam County and $20,000 from the city of Port Angeles — were raised to augment another $250,000 in federal funds to pay for additional snowplowing to keep the road open in the winter.

The federal Department of Interior is providing the matching funds on a trial basis for up to three years to see if the open road does indeed draw more tourism.

Numbers to Ridge

Suess said Wednesday about a dozen cars traveled to Hurricane Ridge on Monday and Tuesday. Suess was not available Thursday.

The Ridge was closed Saturday because of bad weather.

The road was closed for a few hours Monday and Tuesday because of weather.

“On Monday, we closed it due to weather at 1:30 p.m., and then we were able to reopen Tuesday around 11 a.m.,” Suess said.

The number of cars that traveled to the Ridge “is pretty good, since we had to close parts of both days because of high winds,” he said.

Willie Nelson, whose his 12-person van operates twice daily between Port Angeles and Hurricane Ridge from Wednesdays through Saturdays, said increased access has sparked a lot of interest.

“I had a full load [Wednesday] on two trips,” Nelson said.

“I’ve had people from Los Angeles to Olympia, and people in Seattle and Northern California are availing themselves of being able to get up there during the week,” he added.

Even though he has no service scheduled for Tuesdays, a private party paid for a tour to the Ridge on Tuesday, he said.

Although there is potential for wind and more snow over the weekend, Suess said, the crews are ready to keep up as much as possible to allow the road to remain open.

All activities — as well as the road itself being open — are dependent on the weather.

Lift prices

The prices for the lifts are:

• Bunny lift: $12 for a full day.

• Intermediate and bunny lifts: $22 for a full day or $20 starting at 1 p.m.

• Poma lift and all other tow ropes: $27 for a full day or $25 starting at 1 p.m.

• Individual season pass: $200.

• Family season pass: $425 for up to five people and $50 more for each additional person.

Sledding, tubing

Next to the Hurricane Ridge Lodge is a small area for sledding and inner tubing for children 8 and younger, Suess said.

Ranger-led snowshoe walks are at 2 p.m. Fridays through Sundays — except for the Christmas Day closure.

The 90-minute walks are a little less than a mile, and a suggested $5-per-person donation is asked to help keep up the snowshoes.

Organized groups such as youth or school groups must make reservations in advance for snowshoe walks.

Group walks are scheduled Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

Space is limited, so group leaders are encouraged to phone 360-565-3136 for reservations or more information.

People who choose to drive up Hurricane Ridge Road must carry chains.

Shuttle van

Those who do not wish to drive can make reservations with Willie Nelson’s All Points Charters & Tours.

The service is provided Wednesdays through Sundays from the Port Angeles Visitor Center in front of The Landing mall, 121 E. Railroad Ave., and from the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St.

The departing times are 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The shuttle returns to Port Angeles at about 11 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.

The cost is $10 per person. The park entrance fee via shuttle is $5 for those without a pass.

Nelson said he charges $20 if someone wants to leave at 9 a.m. and return at 3:45 p.m.

He said he already has a few scheduled for Sunday, but a few openings remain, and next week is fairly open as well.

To make reservations, phone All Points Charter & Tours at 360-460-7131.

The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is only open Fridays through Sundays. The hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This weekend, the lodge will be open with concessions available today and Sunday.

Before driving to Hurricane Ridge, always phone the Road and Weather hot line at 360-565-3131 first to make sure a sudden snowstorm hasn’t closed the road.

__________

Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at paige.dickerson@peninsuladailynews.com.

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