EDITOR’S NOTE: Hurricane Ridge will be open all week during the summer as construction is done on the visitor center, which will be closed.
PORT ANGELES — An $11 million renovation project on the Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge is about to begin, according to Olympic National Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs, and that means disruptions at the park’s most popular destination for the next two years.
“The contractor has started setting up,” Jacobs told a meeting of the Port Angeles Business Association on Tuesday. “Setup is expected to take about six weeks.”
Jacobs has been superintendent since last May, and before that did stints at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.
During the approximately two-year construction, Hurricane Ridge lodge will be closed, but the Ridge itself — which receives about 300,000 visitors a year — will be open for usual hours, Jacobs said. In the summer, it is open all week.
Currently, Hurricane Ridge is closed until May 25, but Jacobs said the hope is to reopen in time for Memorial Day.
With an elevation of more than 5,000 feet, the construction schedule depends on the weather cooperating, Jacobs said, but once the contractors are able to block off part of the parking lot and get their equipment ready, the area will open up again.
“Once that happens, the day lodge will be closed for about two years,” Jacobs said. “My experience is that things don’t always run on time.”
The lodge will be closed as it undergoes upgrades to its plumbing, wiring and HVAC systems. Jacobs couldn’t say for sure, but an additional restroom might be added as well.
Originally built in 1952, the lodge’s roof will be replaced and upgrades added to increase accessibility for disabled people.
Inside the lodge, the exhibits will be changing over the next five years, Jacobs said, and many of the upgrades won’t be immediately visible to the public.
“It’s a historic building. We had to get a lot of approvals,” Jacobs said.
The approximately $10.8 million project is getting done courtesy of the Great American Outdoors Act passed in 2020 which provides the National Park Service with $1.3 billion annually for five years.
Jacobs said the Hurricane Ridge project was one of the first selected under the GAOA throughout the entire park service.
Temporary restrooms will be set up in the parking lot, as will information areas where visitors can speak with park rangers to get additional information about the park.
Park officials are still determining where the employees will be stationed during winter months when the weather at the ridge can be harsh. Park rangers are there during the winter.
There will still be skiing and snowboarding opportunities, Jacobs said, though they may be set up in a different location. Those activities are managed by the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club and not the park service.
Elsewhere in the park this summer, road repairs are scheduled to take place which may cause road or lane closures, Jacobs said.
Construction schedules depend on weather, and visitors can find updates about closures and other news at Olympic National Park’s website and social media pages.
This Saturday is Earth Day and Olympic National Park is hosting a coastal cleanup day at three beaches on the West End. Participants are asked to register online at https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/2023-olympic-national-park-wa-coastal-cleanup-2042699 for one of three locations: Kalaloch Campground north of Queets; Mora Campground near Rialto Beach west of Forks and the Ozette Campground on Ozette Lake southwest of Clallam Bay.
Washington CoastSavers is handling reservations for other beaches on the North Olympic Peninsula at https://www.coastsavers.org.
Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at email@example.com.