From snow-blanketed mountains to evergreen forests dripping with rain and ocean beaches pounded by winter storm waves, there are many ways to experience the fall and winter seasons at Olympic National park.
Although most of areas of the park are open, some facilities and park roads are closed now for the season. Visitors are encouraged to check the current conditions and weather forecast and be prepared for rain and snow. Call 360-565-3131 for current road, campground and weather information that is updated twice daily.
As always, visitors are urged to plan ahead, hike smart, pack the “Ten Essentials” and have an emergency plan — even for a short day hike or snowshoe excursion. Consider learning CPR and basic wilderness first aid, especially for those planning to hike, ski or snowshoe in the backcountry. Leaving an accurate itinerary with an emergency contact is a critical step for any trip in the backcountry.
Winter season operations for Hurricane Ridge are set to begin Friday, Nov. 27. Weather permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Road is scheduled to be open Fridays through Sundays through March 28.
In addition, the road is scheduled to be open during winter break from Dec. 26-Jan. 3 (closed Christmas Day) and holiday Mondays on Jan. 18 and Feb. 15.
The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center will remain closed through the winter season. Staff are currently scheduled to be available at an information window from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. but the exhibit space, tables and warming area are closed. Visitors are asked to be prepared to use vehicles as a warming areas and pack extra food, water, dry clothing and blankets and/or sleeping bags in one’s vehicle. Restroom facilities will be open.
Although close to Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge is subject to extreme winter conditions including sudden storms, white-outs, and avalanches, making planning and preparation for winter conditions essential. Weather conditions can change quickly and with little warning.
All vehicles, including 4-wheel drive vehicles, are required to carry tire chains when traveling above the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station during the winter season.
Hurricane Ridge Road opens at 9 a.m., though times can vary according to road and weather conditions. The road closes to uphill traffic at 4:00 pm and all vehicles must exit the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station by 5 p.m.
Winter storms can close or delay opening of the Hurricane Ridge Road; high winds and blizzard conditions are not uncommon. Road and weather condition updates are available on the Road and Weather Hotline at 360-565-3131 or by following @HRWinterAccess on Twitter.
Hurricane Ridge Road closes temporarily when the parking lot becomes completely full; park staff urge ridge visitors to park efficiently in order to maximize parking space.
The concession-operated Hurricane Ridge Mountain View Café, Gift Shop and Rental Shop will not open this winter season. In addition, food service and gear rentals will not be available at Hurricane Ridge.
Hurricane Ridge webcam
Hurricane Ridge webcams are available on the park website. The webcam image is updated every 15 minutes (although severe weather can obstruct views).
Ski, snowboard, tubing areas
Weather and snow permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Ski, Snowboard and Tubing Area is scheduled to operate from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays, Dec. 6-March 28. The area is also scheduled to be open daily Dec. 26-Jan. 3.
More information about the Hurricane Ridge Downhill Ski, Snowboard and Tubing area for the 2020-2021 season is available at hurricaneridge.com.
Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing
Opportunities for cross-country skiers and snowshoers range from open, level meadows near the visitor center to extreme terrain in the wilderness backcountry.
Anyone skiing or snowshoeing beyond the immediate Hurricane Ridge area should sign-in at the registration box in the foyer of 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 park website (www.nps.gov/olym) or the park newspaper, the Bugler (nps.gov/olym/learn/news/winter-2020-2021-bugler-newspaper.htm)
Up-to-date information about weather and avalanche risk is available from the Northwest Avalanche Center online at nwac.us.
Anyone planning to venture beyond the maintained downhill ski area, or the immediate Hurricane Ridge area, should always check the Northwest Avalanche Center website and the current conditions posted at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.
ONP Visitor Center
Located at the base of Hurricane Ridge Road in Port Angeles, the Olympic National Park Visitor Center remains closed. Staffers are available from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day) on the front porch and by phone or email to answer questions.
Get visitor information at 360-565-3130 and the road/weather hotline at 360-565-3131.
Wilderness Information Centers are closed to the public for the remainder of 2020. Staff are available daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to distribute bear canisters and answer questions from the back porch, via email at OLYM_WIC@nps.gov, or by phone at 360-565-3100.
All wilderness camping permits must be reserved online at recreation.gov prior to the planned trip.
Wilderness use during the fall and winter requires additional skill in navigation, route-finding and snow travel. Navigation — map, compass, and GPS system — is one of the Ten Essentials. Navigation systems should be used when planning your route and orienting yourself to your surroundings. Check the park website for more information on winter travel in the wilderness.