Winter Season in Olympic National Park

  • Thu Dec 26th, 2019 10:48am
  • News

From snow-blanketed mountains to evergreen forests dripping with rain and ocean beaches pounded by winter storms waves, there are many ways to experience winter in Olympic. Although most of the areas of the park remain accessible some facilities and park roads are closed. Before your visit, check the weather forecast and current road conditions and be prepared for rain and snow. Call 360-565-3131 for current road, campground, and weather information updated twice daily.

Hurricane Ridge Road

Weather permitting; the Hurricane Ridge Road is scheduled to be open Friday through Sunday and some holidays (January 1 and 20, February 17) through March 29, 2020. The road is also scheduled to be open daily from Thursday, December 26 through January 1.

Weather permitting, Hurricane Ridge Road usually opens at 9:00 a.m., but times vary according to road and weather conditions. The road closes to uphill traffic at 4:00 p.m. and all vehicles must exit the Heart of the Hills entrance station by 5:00 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.

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

The Hurricane Ridge Road may also close temporarily if the parking lot becomes completely full. Park staff urge Hurricane Ridge visitors to carpool and pay extra attention to making the best possible use of the parking area.

After March 29, 2020, the road may be open as weather, staffing and road conditions allow. By early May the road is usually open 24 hours a day.

Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is scheduled to be open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday plus some holidays (January 1, 20 and February 17) through March 31, 2020. It will also be open daily December 26 through January 1.

Hurricane Ridge Mountain View Café, Gift Shop and Rental Shop

The Hurricane Ridge Mountain View Café, Gift Shop and Rental Shop, with both ski and snowshoe rentals, is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Fridays through Sundays plus some holidays (January 1 and 20, February 17) through March 29, 2020; it will also be open daily December 26 through January 1.

Ranger-Led Snowshoe Walks

Ranger-led snowshoe walks for individuals and families are offered at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and some holidays (January 1 and 20, February 17) through March 29, 2020, snow permitting. The walks last 90 minutes and are less than one mile in length. A $7 participation fee is charged for adults, with a $3 fee for youth from 6-15 years old. No fee for children five years of age and younger.

Space on the walks is limited to 25 individuals. Sign-up begins at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center information desk 30 minutes before the scheduled walk.

Organized groups such as youth or school groups must make advance reservations for snowshoe walks. Group snowshoe walks are provided on Saturdays, Sundays and some holidays (January 1 and 20, February 17) at 10:30 a.m. for groups holding reservations. Space is limited, so group leaders should call Olympic National Park at (360) 565-3136 for reservations and more information.

Downhill Ski, Snowboard and Tubing Area

Weather permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Ski, Snowboard and Tubing Area will operate from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and some holidays (January 1 and 20, February 17) through March 29, 2020. The area is also scheduled to be open daily December 26 through January 1. More information about the Hurricane Ridge downhill ski and snowboard area is available at hurricaneridge.com.

Skiing/Snowboard/Snowshoeing Lessons: Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club offers winter sports lessons for ages four and up. Private lessons are also available. For more information see www.hurricaneridge.com or (848) 667-7669.

Cross-country Skiing and 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 foyer of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and be prepared for steep terrain and the possibility of avalanches. Although close to town, Hurricane Ridge is subject to extreme winter conditions, including sudden storms, white-outs and avalanches, making planning and preparation for winter conditions vitally important.

Information about ski and snowshoe routes and trails is available at park visitor centers, the park website or the park newspaper, the Bugler.

Overnight Wilderness 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 Olympic National Park Visitor Center & Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100 or 360-565-3130.

Avalanche Information

Up-to-date information about weather and avalanche risk is available from the Northwest Avalanche Center on the web at nwac.us or by calling 206-526-6677. Anyone planning to venture beyond the maintained downhill ski area or the immediate Hurricane Ridge area should always check with the Northwest Avalanche Center or a ranger for current conditions.

Hurricane Ridge Webcam

Hurricane Ridge webcams are available on the park website. The webcam image is updated every 15 minutes (although severe weather can cause webcam outages).

Tubing and Sliding

The Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard area operates a tubing park; check hurricaneridge.com for information, details, and updates. For visitors ages nine and older, sliding is only permitted at the Tubing Park within the Ski Area. Only tubes furnished by the Ski Area are allowed. Tube park rates (including tubes) are $14 per hour.

Tubing and sliding are permitted free of charge for children eight years of age and younger, at the Small Children’s Snowplay Area just west of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Bring your own tube or sled; sleds with runners are not allowed. If conditions become too dangerous for sliding, the Small Children’s Snowplay Area will be closed.

Olympic National Park Visitor Center

The Olympic National Park Visitor Center & Wilderness Information Center, at the base of Hurricane Ridge Road in Port Angeles, is open daily throughout the winter from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Park Roads

Sol Duc Road, Deer Park Road, Obstruction Point Road, and Hurricane Hill Road are all closed to vehicles for the winter season.

The Olympic Hot Springs Road is closed to vehicle access beyond the Madison Falls parking area at the park boundary due to a major road washout. There is limited parking and turnaround space. The remainder of the Olympic Hot Springs Road and access to Whiskey Bend Road is open to pedestrians and bicycles via a temporary bypass trail. Bicyclists should walk their bike on the bypass trail and all users should be prepared to share the trail. Dogs on a leash are allowed on the roads and the bypass trail, but not on any other trails beyond the gate.

Pacific Coast

Kalaloch, Mora, and Ozette—Olympic National Park’s road-accessible coastal destinations—are open, including all roads, campgrounds, and trailheads.

Rain Forest

Throughout the winter season, rain falls frequently in the Rain Forests of the Hoh, Queets and Quinault Valleys, contributing to the yearly average of 140 inches (3.55 meters) of precipitation each year. The result is a lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species. Mosses and ferns that blanket the surfaces add another dimension to the enchantment of the rainforest.

The Hoh Rain Forest Road is generally open 24 hours a day. The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is open Friday through Sunday in the off-season and closed during the months of January and February.

Lodging

Kalaloch Lodge is open year-round with cabins, lodge rooms, dining, gift shop, and a small store. Lake Crescent Lodge is open through January 1, 2020, offering a range of lodging options, a dining room, boat rentals and gift shop.

A variety of lodging options are available in the gateway communities surrounding Olympic. To help plan your visit, refer to the park map for locations of nearby towns and accommodations along your route.

More information about visiting Hurricane Ridge and other areas of Olympic National Park in the winter is available at nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-in-winter.htm.