Olympic National Park officials last week announced the Hurricane Ridge 2008-2009 winter schedule, with direction from new park superintendent Karen Gustin.
New tire chain requirement
To improve public safety, all vehicles will be required to carry chains when traveling above the Heart O' the Hills entrance station on Hurricane Ridge Road between Nov. 21, 2008-May 1, 2009.
This requirement applies to all vehicles (including four-wheel drive), regardless of tire type, and applies to all road and weather conditions. Additional requirements, such as traction tires or chains on vehicles, may be enacted when conditions warrant. Drivers must comply with posted traction requirements.
"Having a set of chains in every vehicle that travels to Hurricane Ridge will provide a greater margin of safety when sudden storms arrive or road conditions worsen during the day," Gustin said. "In fact, this requirement may give us greater flexibility in keeping the road open during times when conditions are marginal."
Hurricane Ridge Road
Barring heavy snows or winter storms, Hurricane Ridge Road is scheduled to be open 9 a.m.-dusk, Friday through Sunday, Nov. 21, 2008 to March 29, 2009. The road is closed Monday through Thursday during the winter season, except for Monday holidays and an extended period during the Christmas-New Year's holiday.
During the holiday period, the road is scheduled to be open daily from Dec. 19, 2008 to Jan. 4, 2009, except for Dec. 25.
The road also is scheduled to be open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 19) and Presidents Day (Feb. 16).
Winter conditions such as storms, drifting snow or avalanche danger may delay or prohibit the road from opening or may force an early closure.
Hurricane Ridge Road also may close temporarily if the parking lot becomes full. All vehicles must park within the Hurricane Ridge parking lot; roadside parking is permitted only at the Sunrise Snowplay Area.
To make best use of the available parking spaces, park staff urges Hurricane Ridge visitors to carpool whenever possible and pay extra attention to making the best use of parking spaces.
"Ride-sharing and carpooling will conserve the limited parking spaces at Hurricane Ridge and we ask all our visitors to help in this effort," Gustin said.
Recorded information about Hurricane Ridge Road and weather conditions is available 24 hours a day at 565-3131 or 530 AM in Port Angeles.
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 Visitor
Center and Ski Shop
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is open with restrooms and a warm seating area whenever the road is open. Beginning on Dec. 27, the information desk is staffed from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through March 29. The desk will be staffed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 19) and Presidents Day (Feb. 16) as well.
The snack bar and ski shop, with ski and snowshoe rentals, will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 13-March 29; along with Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 19) and Presidents Day (Feb. 16) and during the holiday period from Dec. 26-Jan. 4.
Snowshoe walks for individuals and families are offered at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays, Dec. 27-March 29. Snowshoe walks also are offered at 2 p.m. on Dec. 26, Jan. 1 and Jan. 2. The walks last 90 minutes and are less than one mile in length. Participation is limited, so people should register at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center information desk 30 minutes before the scheduled walk.
A $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 walks are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and last 90 minutes. Space is limited, so groups should call Olympic National Park at 565-3136 for reservations and more information.
Tubing and sliding
Because of the potential for serious injury, tubing and sliding are permitted only at two designated areas. Each area will be managed and monitored for safe use. The Sunrise Family Snowplay Area is located about one mile north of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and is managed for use by children and families. The Small Children's Snowplay Area at Hurricane Ridge is designated and managed for children 8 years of age and younger. If at any time during the winter season, conditions become too dangerous for sliding or if adequate staffing is unavailable, one or both of the tubing areas will be closed to all use.
Weather permitting, the downhill ski tows will operate from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 13-March 29. The ski tows also will be open Dec. 26, Jan. 2, Jan. 19 and Feb. 16. For more information about downhill skiing at Hurricane Ridge, call 457-2879 or visit www.hurricaneridge.com on the Web.
Overnight wilderness camping
Overnight camping is permitted in the Hurricane Ridge area on Friday and Saturday nights, and on Sunday nights before a Monday holiday. Winter camps must be at least one mile from the Hurricane Ridge parking area. Overnight parking is not permitted at Hurricane Ridge; parking and shuttle options are explained at registration.
Anyone planning a winter camping trip on Hurricane Ridge first must register at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center to obtain a wilderness camping permit and also must check in and out with a ranger at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.
Up-to-date information about weather and avalanche risk is available from the Northwest Avalanche Center on the Web at www.nwac.noaa.gov/ or by calling 206-526-6677. Anyone planning to venture beyond the maintained downhill ski area or the immediate Hurricane Ridge area always should check with the Northwest Avalanche Center or a ranger for current conditions.
Hurricane Ridge Webcam
and Weather Station
Hurricane Ridge weather conditions are available online at the park's Web site at www.nps.gov/olym and clicking first on "Photos & Multimedia" and then on "Webcams." The webcam image is updated every 15 minutes (although severe weather can cause webcam outages); weather station information is provided hourly.