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Hurricane Ridge sets winter activity schedule

Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge winter schedule has been announced for the 2010-2011 season.

“Contributions from communities, organizations and individuals across the North Olympic Peninsula provided the additional funding necessary to hire the eight new staff needed to keep the Hurricane Ridge Road open seven days a week this winter,” said Karen Gustin, Olympic National Park superintendent.

To celebrate the new seven-day-a-week schedule, and the community-park collaboration that is making it possible, the public is invited to a Grand Winter Opening celebration at noon on Dec. 17 at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

Hurricane Ridge winter activities and services include:

Hurricane Ridge Road

Weather permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Road is open daily from 9 a.m. to dusk through the winter season, except for Dec. 25.

All vehicles, including four-wheel drive vehicles, are required to carry tire chains when traveling above the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station in winter.


A work crew clears the Hurricane Ridge parking lot for use in 2008. Photo courtesy of Olympic National Park

“Having a set of chains in every vehicle provides an extra measure of safety when sudden storms arrive or road conditions worsen during the day,” Gustin said. “In fact, this practice gives us more flexibility in keeping the road open when conditions are marginal.”

Winter storms can close the Hurricane Ridge Road; high winds and blizzard conditions are not uncommon.

“‘Hurricane’ Ridge is well-named and despite our best efforts to keep the road cleared and open, severe weather can force a road closure or delayed opening,” Gustin said. “Our Number 1 priority is safety for our staff and visitors.”

Road and weather condition updates are available on the Olympic National Park website (www.nps.gov/olym) or by calling the park’s Road and Weather Hotline at 565-3131. People can also follow “HRWinterAccess” on Twitter to receive road condition updates.

The Hurricane Ridge Road also may close temporarily if the parking lot becomes completely full. To make best use of the available parking spaces, park staff urges Hurricane Ridge visitors to carpool or use the new Hurricane Ridge shuttle whenever possible and pay extra attention to making the best use of parking spaces.

Entrance fees are collected at the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station whenever the road is open. Olympic’s seven-day entrance pass, which allows a private vehicle to enter any of the park’s roadways, costs $15. The Olympic National Park Annual Pass, good for one year after the purchase date, costs $30.

Hurricane Ridge shuttle van
All Points Charters and Tours provides twice-daily van service from downtown Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge Wednesday-Sunday beginning on Friday, Dec. 17.

Shuttle vans depart from the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center on Railroad Avenue at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and pick up passengers at the Vern Burton Center at 9:05 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. before the 45-minute drive to Hurricane Ridge.

Vans depart Hurricane Ridge at about 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Scheduling details remain flexible during the start-up period for this new service.

Advance reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling All Points Charters and Tours at 565-1139 or 460-7131. Round trip tickets cost $10 per person; rates for special circumstances are under development and will be made available soon. In addition, park entrance fees ($5 per person for anyone 16 years and older) are required at the park entrance station.

Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center will be open beginning on Dec. 17. The information desk will be staffed daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., except when rangers are outdoors leading snowshoe walks or assisting visitors.

Snack bar, ski shop
The Hurricane Ridge snack bar and ski shop, with both ski and snowshoe rentals, is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 11-March 27; along with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 17), Presidents Day (Monday, Feb. 21) and the holiday period from Dec. 26-Jan. 2.

Snowshoe walks
Ranger-led snowshoe walks for individuals and families are offered at 2 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays Dec. 10-March 27. The walks are 90 minutes long and are less than one mile in length. Space on walks is limited, so people should register at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center information desk 30 minutes before the scheduled walk.

A suggested $5 donation from each snowshoe walk participant helps the park provide snowshoe walks and repair and replace snowshoes.

Organized groups such as youth or school groups must make advance reservations for snowshoe walks. Group snowshoe walks are provided Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays at 10:30 a.m. for groups holding reservations. Space is limited, so group leaders should call Olympic National Park at 565-3136 for reservations and more information.

Downhill ski, snowboard area
Weather permitting, the downhill ski and snowboard area operates 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 11-March 27 (closed Dec. 25).

The ski tows are open Monday, Dec. 27; Friday, Dec. 31; Monday, Jan. 17; and Monday, Feb. 2. More information about the Hurricane Ridge downhill ski and snowboard area is available at www.
hurricaneridge.com.

Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing
Opportunities for cross-country skiers and snowshoe walkers range from open, level meadows near the visitor center to extreme terrain in the park’s wilderness backcountry. Anyone skiing or snowshoeing beyond the immediate Hurricane Ridge area should sign-in at the registration box in the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and be prepared for steep terrain and the possibility of avalanches.

Information about ski and snowshoe routes and trails is available at park visitor centers, the Olympic National Park website or in the park’s visitor newspaper, The Bugler.

Overnight camping
Overnight wilderness camping is permitted in the Hurricane Ridge area with advance registration. Winter camps must be at least one-half mile from the Hurricane Ridge parking area. Overnight parking is not permitted at Hurricane Ridge; parking and shuttle options are explained at the time of registration. More information is available by calling the park’s Wilderness Information Center at 565-3100 or the Olympic National Park Visitor Center at 565-3130.

Webcam and weather station
Hurricane Ridge weather conditions are available on the park’s website here. The webcam image is updated every 15 minutes (although severe weather can cause webcam outages); weather station information is provided hourly.


Tubing, sliding

Tubing and sliding are permitted only for children 8 years and younger, at the Small Children’s Snowplay Area just west of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

If conditions become too dangerous for sliding, the Small Children’s Snowplay Area will be closed. Visitors should check at a park visitor center for current information.

Olympic National Park Visitor Center
The Olympic National Park Visitor Center, at the base of Hurricane Ridge Road, is open daily throughout the winter from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The Visitor Center will be closed on Christmas Day, Saturday, Dec. 25.

More information about visiting Hurricane Ridge and other areas of Olympic National Park is available at www.nps.gov/olym.
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