With the partial federal government shutdown being lifted late last week, it’s time to hit the slopes at Hurricane Ridge.
Olympic National Park reopened its visitor center on Jan. 27 and staff returned to work the next day, to begin preparing other areas, now that the partial federal government shutdown has ended — at least for three weeks.
Park spokesperson Penny Wagner said Hurricane Ridge winter operations are expected to resume on Friday, Feb. 1.
Roger Oakes, board secretary for the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club, said in a press release that the club’s executive committee agreed to open the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Area — including skiing and snowboarding activities, ski school lessons, plus downhill sledding and tubing — on Saturday, Feb. 2.
The area is open weekends and President’s Day (Feb. 18) through March, Oakes said.
The Hurricane Ridge Sports Area is operated by the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club, and offers activities 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
The area has two rope tows and a Poma lift for beginner to advanced skiers.
“Our operations team has been up there readying our lifts, and they are ready to operate,” Oakes said.
“We should have our rope tows and our tubing area in operation this coming weekend. The Poma lift has a good snow cover but will take some (snow-cat) work to prepare for its opening.”
For fees, the club’s ski school offers three-week and drop-in ski/snowboard lessons, plus toddler-age lessons and private lessons for one person or more (six maximum).
“We have instructors standing by and available for lesson sign-ups this weekend,” Oakes said. “Our ski patrol has undergone training and is ready to serve.”
There is also a dedicated tubing run, with one-hour passes available.
Passes — both season passes and reduced cost tickets for just the bunny lift, the intermediate and bunny lifts or the Poma and all lifts, plus tubing fees — are outlined on the club’s website at www.hurricaneridge.com.
“We still have two full months of skiing the beautiful slopes of one of the most beautiful ski areas in the world,” Oakes said. “The club is considering pre-selling season passes for next year that will be available for March spring skiing as well.”
The club is offering free lift tickets to fourth- and fifth-graders for the 2018-19 season. Parents/guardians should bring proof of enrollment to the ticket window to receive a free ticket. Homeschoolers can bring proof of age.
For more information about the ski school, call 848-667-7669 or email to ski firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s more to do up on the ridge than skiing and tubing, however. Snow permitting, families can join a ranger-guided snowshoe walk. Walks are offered at 2 p.m. weekends and holiday Mondays. They last 1.5 hours and cover less than a mile; snowshoes and instructions are provided.
Cost for snowshoe walks is $7 for adults, $3 for youth 6-15 years old, and free for children 5 years old and younger. Group size is limited to 25 people. Sign-up begins at the Hurricane Ridge information desk 30 minutes before the walk. Reservations for a morning walk for school or community groups must be made in advance by calling 360-565-3136.
There are also 10 dedicated trails at Hurricane Ridge, from the popular 3.2-mile (round-trip) Hurricane Hill to the 3.8-mile (one-way) Klahhane Ridge to more easy-going, one-mile-or-less routes such as Cirque Rim, Big Meadow and High Ridge; see www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/hurri cane-ridge-area-brochure.htm for more trail details.
Food, beverages and restrooms are available at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, where ridge users can enjoy a picnic at more than 5,000 feet above sea level.
According to the National Park Service, Hurricane Ridge Road opens at 9 a.m. but times might vary depending on weather and road conditions.
Weather dependent, the road generally opens to uphill traffic at 9 a.m. and closes to uphill traffic at 4 p.m., Friday through Sunday.
All vehicles, including those equipped with four-wheel drive, must carry snow chains to proceed up Hurricane Ridge Road beyond the Heart o’ the Hills toll station.
None of the ski area passes or tickets includes entrance to Olympic National Park. Fees are $30 per car, or an annual pass for $55.
All vehicles must be off the ridge and below the toll station by 5 p.m. The park service encourages visitors to call 360-565-3131 for a 24-hour recording of current road and weather conditions.
Olympic National Park advises Hurricane Ridge visitors to carpool and park close to other vehicles in available parking. The ridge’s parking lot fills early, causing long delays at the Heart o’ the Hills entrance station.
Authorized businesses provide shuttle service to Hurricane Ridge. For information, inquire at the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center by calling 360-452-2363 or go to www.portange les.org.