OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — The winter season begins today at Hurricane Ridge.
Weather permitting, Hurricane Ridge Road is scheduled to be open Friday through Sunday through March 27 except for Christmas Day. It will be open daily from Dec. 26 through Jan. 2 and on the holiday Mondays of Jan. 17 and Feb. 21.
Weather and snow permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Ski, Snowboard and Tubing Area is scheduled to operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays beginning Dec. 5 through March 27, the same days the road is open.
It is uncertain if the ski area will open on Dec. 5.
Snow depth at the Waterhole Snotel site was 13 inches as of Thursday and 36 inches of snow at the bottom of the intermediate rope tow are needed to open.
More information about the Hurricane Ridge Downhill Ski, Snowboard and Tubing area for the 2021-2022 season is available at hurricaneridge.com.
The restrooms will be open beginning today inside the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, but the exhibits, film, warming area and tables will remain closed.
Visitors should be prepared to use their vehicles as warming areas and should pack extra food, water, dry clothing, and blankets and/or sleeping bags.
The concessionaire-operated Mountain View Café, Gift Shop & Rental Shop on the lower level of the Visitor Center will be open for the 2021-2022 winter season Friday through Sunday beginning Dec. 10 through March 27 and continuing on the same schedule as the road.
Food service will be take-out only.
Hurricane Ridge, which is only 17 miles from Port Angeles, many areas of which are near sea level, is at 5,242 feet elevation. It is subject to extreme winter conditions including sudden storms, whiteouts and avalanches, making planning and preparation for winter conditions essential. Weather conditions can change quickly and with little warning.
All vehicles, including four-wheel drive, are required to carry tire chains when traveling above the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station during the winter season.
Hurricane Ridge Road typically opens at 9 a.m. though times can vary. Depending on weather and road conditions, the road may open as early as 8 a.m., as late as noon, or not open at all.
The road closes to uphill traffic at 4 p.m. and all vehicles must exit the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station by 5 p.m.
Opportunities for cross-country skiers and snowshoers range from open, level meadows near the visitor center to extreme terrain in the wilderness backcountry. Anyone skiing or snowshoeing beyond the immediate Hurricane Ridge area should sign in at the registration box in the foyer of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and be prepared for steep terrain and the possibility of avalanches.
Up-to-date information about weather and avalanche risk is available from the Northwest Avalanche Center online at nwac.us.
Hurricane Ridge webcams are available on the park website. The webcam image is updated every 15 minutes. Severe weather can obstruct the webcam views.
Road and weather condition updates are available on the Road & Weather line at 360-565-3131 and by following @HRWinterAccess on Twitter (no account necessary).
Hurricane Ridge Road closes temporarily when the parking lot becomes completely full. Park staff urge visitors to park efficiently in order to maximize parking space.
Find more information and a video to help plan ahead at nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/hurricane-ridge-in-winter.htm.
Park visitor center
The Olympic National Park Visitor Center, at the base of Hurricane Ridge Road in Port Angeles, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
The theater and Discovery Room remain closed. Restrooms are open daily and located outside of the main building. Staff are also available by phone at 360-565-3130 to answer questions.
The park store is operated by Discover Your Northwest, a nonprofit partner of the National Park Service.
A range of books, travel guides, maps, pins and other items are available for sale online at discover nw.org/olympic.
Staff are available daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Port Angeles Wilderness Information Center to distribute bear canisters and answer questions from the back porch, via email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-565- 3100.
All wilderness camping permits must be reserved online at Recreation.gov prior to the planned trip.
The Quinault and Hoodsport Wilderness Information Centers are closed for the season.
Deer Park Road, Obstruction Point Road and Hurricane Hill Road are closed to vehicles for the winter season. Sol Duc Road typically closes for the winter due to snow and icy road conditions.
Other park roads may close with short notice due to road and weather conditions. Call the Road & Weather line at 360-565-3131 to check current road and campground status information.
The Olympic Hot Springs Road in the Elwha Valley is closed to vehicle access beyond the Madison Falls parking area at the park boundary due to a major road washout several years ago.
There is limited parking and turnaround space.
The remainder of the Olympic Hot Springs Road and access to Whiskey Bend Road is open to pedestrians and bicycles via a temporary bypass trail.
Bicyclists should walk their bike on the bypass trail and all users should be prepared to share the trail.
Dogs on a leash are allowed on the roads and the bypass trail, but not on any other trails beyond the gate.
All park campgrounds that are open this time of year are first-come, first-served.
Some park campgrounds are primitive with no potable water.
Check the status and amenities of campgrounds on the park website at nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/camping.htm.
Kalaloch, Mora and Ozette — all road-accessible coastal destinations — are open, weather and conditions permitting. Visitors should be aware of the high tides in the winter and any predicted storms.
Throughout the winter season, rain falls frequently in the Hoh, Queets and Quinault Valleys, contributing to the yearly average of 140 inches of precipitation each year.
The result is a lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species. Mosses and ferns that blanket the surfaces add another dimension to the enchantment of the rain forest.
Due to a recent major storm, the Hoh Rain Forest is temporarily closed at the park boundary.