Top 20 Washington State Trips

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge has breathtaking views across the rooftop of Olympic National Park!

Hurricane Ridge is 3 hours from Seattle.  It's a must-see destination when visiting the Olympic National Park.  Drive to the Visitor Center for superb views across the rooftop of the mountains. 

Hurricane Ridge provides the only vehicle access to the remote high country of the Olympic National Park and has an elevation of 4,242 feet.  Look out at 6,900 feet Mt Olympus, the highest peak in the Olympics.

Best time to visit

Hurricane Ridge is blanketed in 30-35 feet of snow for most of the year.  Vehicles are required to carry snow chains during winter and early spring.  Always check current conditions and road closures before leaving.  Summer comes very late, and the best opportunity to view the stunning alpine meadows is from July to September.  

Driving to Hurricane Ridge from Seattle

To get to Hurricane Ridge from Seattle take the Bainbridge Island Ferry from downtown, then drive 2 hours to Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula.   Hurricane Ridge is another 18 miles up the mountain from Port Angeles. 

10 best things to do at Hurricane Ridge

1.  Your first stop should be the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles.

The National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles (3002 Mount Angeles Road) is the perfect introduction to the Olympic National Park.

See interesting exhibits like a whale hunting canoe, log house, Roosevelt Elk diorama, and Ranger Station with hands-on activities for kids. The rangers are also on hand to provide brochures, free maps, recommended hikes, back-country permits, and the latest weather conditions. There's also a restroom and small gift shop, and you can purchase NPS passes.

2. Take the spectacular 18-mile drive up to Hurricane Ridge. 

Pay an entrance fee at the Heart O The Hills Entrance Station, on the way up to Hurricane Ridge.

There are some fabulous photo opportunities and pull-outs on the jaw dropping 18-mile drive up to Hurricane Ridge.  These include sweeping vistas of the lowlands at Port Angeles, the 5-mile Dungeness Spit (longest spit in the world), San Juan Islands and Victoria BC.

3. Visit the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to watch an introductory video.

The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is open from late Spring to early Fall, and on other weekends throughout the year, weather permitting (always check ahead). It has a seasonal snack bar, gift shop and park video.

Set aside some time to watch a fascinating 20-minute video at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, explaining the origins of the Olympic Mountains. Learn about the vast sea of ice that once surrounded the Olympics Mountains during the last Ice Age, isolating it from the mainland. That's why there are species and plants found here that exist nowhere else in the world, like the Olympic marmot, Olympic chipmunk, Mazama pocket gopher, and Snow Mole.

4. Enjoy breathtaking views from the patio at Hurricane Ridge.

The patio is just steps from the parking area. You'd usually have to hike for miles to get incredible views like these! 

Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh Rainforest are the two most popular destinations in the Olympic National Park, and take you deep into the interior.

See if you can recognize all the major mountains in the Olympic National Park, like 6,900 foot Mt Olympus, the highest mountain in the park. These glaciated mountains are reminders of the last Ice Age.

Take in all the wonder of this extraordinary landcape, including snowcapped peaks, deep river valleys, and steep ridgelines.  This area was designated a National Park in 1938, by President Roosevelt.

5. Explore some easy trails around the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

Some of the pathways at Hurricane Ridge are paved, making it easier to get around. 

There are frequent sightings of blacktail deer and their fawn along the pathways.  They seem pretty used to visitors!

The scene is idyllic in early fall, but in winter howling winds blast through here, creating blizzard-like conditions.  Hurricane force winds of over 75 miles per hour have been recorded here!

These sub-alpine meadows are covered with wildflowers in late summer.

You don't have to walk far from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to get an incredible perspective.

6. Get a permit to hike the back-country.

Stop at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles (3002 Mount Angeles Road) to get a back country permit for Hurricane Ridge hiking trails. You can pick up a bear cannister, and check weather conditions. Weather can change dramatically at Hurricane Ridge, so always be prepared.

The wilderness seems to stretch on forever here, all the way to the horizon.  The Olympic National park is a staggering 922,650 acres!

7. Visit in early summer to see Hurricane Ridge covered in snow!

The snow doesn't usually clear at Hurricane Ridge until early Fall, so be prepared for snow in summer, and wear warm clothing and shoes with treads.

8. Go skiing, snowboarding, and tubing at Hurricane Ridge.

Hurricane Ridge is only one of three parks in the National Park System that offers downhill skiing!

The Hurricane Ridge Snow and Snowboard Area has three lifts (a bunny tow for kids, intermediate tow, and poma lift), and is usually only open on winter weekends (check lift tickets). There's also an adjacent tubing hill, where tickets are purchased for 1-hour sessions, and you can only use the tubes supplied on the mountain.

Keep in mind that the parking lot has only 175 spaces and fills up fast, so arrive before 9am to avoid disappointment. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center rents skis, snowshoes and cross country skis.

9. Go snow shoeing or cross country skiing.

There are also 15-20 miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing routes, however no routes are plowed or marked.  You must register at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center before heading out, and check weather and avalanche conditions.

10. Register for a ranger guided shoe walk.

Register at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center for a 90-minute guided show shoe walk covering less than a mile.

Where can I stay overnight?

The nearest town to Hurricane Ridge is Port Angeles.   Port Townsend is also 1-hour east of Port Angeles and is a charming, Victorian seaport on the water with a historic downtown.

Things to do near Hurricane Ridge

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