Hurricane Ridge is one of the best ways to take in the Olympic Mountain Range in Western Washington State. Located seventeen miles south of Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge is easily accessible by paved road. Its elevation of 5,200 feet offers stunning views of the mountain range and Olympic National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The visitor's center is located at the end of the aptly named Hurricane Ridge Road. Hurricane Ridge is located within Olympic National Park, so visitors are required to stop at a tollbooth and pay the National Park entrance fee. While this road is paved, it has many steep inclines and tight curves and can be treacherous in certain conditions. Since Hurricane Ridge Washington earned its name because of gale-force winds, it isn't uncommon for the road and visitor's center to close for safety reasons. Visitors are encouraged to check the weather online or by phone before starting a journey to Hurricane Ridge. All vehicles visiting the area during winter months must carry tire chains.
Once visitors have reached the parking lot at the end of Hurricane Ridge Road, the best place to begin exploring is the visitor's center. This building provides maps, snacks, restroom facilities, an orientation film and expert advice to anyone exploring the area. The road and visitor's center remain open 24 hours a day between May and October and on weekends during the winter.
While Hurricane Ridge Washington has something to offer year-round, it is especially popular for skiing and snowboarding during the winter months. With an average annual snowfall of 400 inches, the Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area offers lifts and tows for all skill levels, including bunny slopes, a freestyle terrain park and black diamond runs. However, since the ski area is part of Olympic National Park, there are no marked obstacles and limited grooming. Additionally, 75 mph wind gusts common to the ridge make the area prone to avalanches. This makes skiing and snowboarding on Hurricane Ridge more challenging and dangerous than typical ski areas. Cross-country skiing, sledding and ranger-guided snowshoe walks are available to those less adventurous visitors. Snowshoes and skis can be rented at the visitor's center.
During the warmer summer months, the spectacular views from Hurricane Ridge make it an excellent day trip from surrounding towns of the Olympic Peninsula. These views are especially remarkable at sunrise and sunset. Paved picnic areas, complete with restrooms, are provided one mile beyond the visitor's center and are available throughout the summer. The area is also popular with day-hikers. Multiple trails wrap all around the ridge, offering something for every skill level. Take in sub-alpine lakes in dramatic valleys and sweeping meadows filled with wildflowers and grazing blacktail deer. Pets and bicycles are not permitted on any paved trails at Hurricane Ridge.
For those who wish to stay longer at Hurricane Ridge Washington, Heart O'the Hills campground is located only twelve miles north of the ridge on the road to Port Angeles. Its 105 campsites are nestled in the old growth forest that earned the Olympic National Park its UNESCO World Heritage Site title. Campsites are available on a first come first serve basis and are subject to additional reservation fees. Heart O'the Hills is open throughout the year.