Winter offers a wide variety of opportunities for visitors to Olympic National Park. For those who enjoy indoor comforts, options include ocean storm-watching from the Kalaloch Lodge along the park’s Pacific Coast to lakeside dining at Lake Crescent Lodge to weekend day trips to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center on snow-covered Hurricane Ridge. Outdoor opportunities abound too, from camping to hiking to snowshoeing.
“Every season at Olympic brings its own magic, and for the prepared visitor, winter can be an excellent time to experience the many facets of the park,” park superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said.
Current information is available at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles, open daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The visitor center will be closed on Nov. 28 for Thanksgiving and on Dec. 25 for Christmas.
“However, given the ongoing uncertainties about our budget this year, it’s essential that we use a great deal of caution in spending,” Creachbaum said. “When the government shutdown ended, Congress provided funds to operate the parks through Jan. 15. Final funding for fiscal year 2014 will not be resolved before then. In this uncertain environment, we are aiming to provide services to our winter visitors while ensuring we have adequate funding in reserve for summer when we have our highest visitation,” Creachbaum said.
Park information also is available 24-7 at the Olympic National Park website (www.nps.gov/olym), the park’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OlympicNPS) and via the park’s Road and Weather Hotline at (360) 565-3131. People can also follow “HRWinterAccess” on Twitter to receive specific Hurricane Ridge Road condition updates.
Visiting the coast
Kalaloch Lodge is open year-round and offers overnight lodging, a dining room and gift shop. More information is available at www.thekalalochlodge.com.
Kalaloch, Mora and Ozette campgrounds are open throughout the winter. Both Kalaloch and Mora campgrounds have running water and flush toilets; vault toilets are available in the Ozette campground.
Visitors always should check a current tide table and weather report before venturing onto the beach. Stay far away from beach logs, which are easily tossed by waves.
The Forks Information Station is closed for the season.
Visiting the forests
Lake Crescent Lodge has extended its season this year and offers overnight lodging, a dining room and gift shop through Dec. 31. More information is available at www.olympicnationalparks.com/accommodations/lake-crescent-resort.aspx.
The Hoh Rain Forest area, with walking trails and a campground, remains open throughout the winter, weather permitting. Running water and flush toilets remain in operation in the Hoh Campground. The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center will close for the season on Dec. 2 and will reopen in early March.
The Quinault Graves Creek Campground is open through the winter, with vault toilets available.
The Sol Duc Road and Campground remain open, weather and road conditions permitting, throughout the winter. Snow accumulations may cause the road to be closed for extended time periods. Vault toilets are available in the campground. The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is closed for the season and will reopen in March.
The Elwha Valley and Elwha Campground remain open; vault toilets are available at the campground.
Heart O’ the Hills Campground is open with running water and flush toilets available. Snow accumulation may cause the campground to become walk-in only.
The Staircase area is open; the campground is open for walk-in camping only. Vault toilets are available in the campground.
Visiting the mountains
Winter road access to Hurricane Ridge always is dependent on safe road and weather conditions. Beginning Nov. 29, the Hurricane Ridge Road is scheduled to be open Friday-Sunday and Monday holidays through March 30.
Whether to open the Hurricane Ridge Road is a decision made each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the winter season and is based on staff assessment of road and weather conditions, along with forecasts and information from the National Weather Service and the Northwest Avalanche Center.
Current information about the Hurricane Ridge Road is posted on the Olympic National Park website (www.nps.gov/olym) and is available via the park’s Road and Weather Hotline at (360) 565-3131. People can also follow “HRWinterAccess” on Twitter to receive road condition updates.
All vehicles, including four-wheel drive, must carry tire chains when traveling above the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station between Nov. 15-April 1. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is open when the road is open, with restrooms, exhibits, park film and a warming area.
The Hurricane Ridge snack bar and ski shop, with both ski and snowshoe rentals, will be open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays beginning Saturday, Nov. 30 through March 30, 2014.
The Hurricane Ridge Ski, Snowboard and Tubing Area will be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays from Dec. 7-March 30, 2014. More information about the Hurricane Ridge downhill ski and snowboard area is available at hurricaneridge.com.
Information about ski and snowshoe routes and trails is available at park visitor centers, the Olympic National Park website or the park’s visitor newspaper, “The Bugler.”
Ranger-led snowshoe walks will not be offered this winter.
Find more information about visiting Hurricane Ridge and other areas of Olympic National Park at www.nps.gov/olym.
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