How to Visit Hurricane Ridge | The Best View in Olympic National Park
Get the most out of your experience in Olympic National Park with our travel guide to Hurricane Ridge. Make sure you don't miss out on this stunning view!
Are you looking for the most beautiful views in Olympic National Park? If so, then visiting Hurricane Ridge is a must-do on your travel itinerary. Located high above the mountains of Washington, this breath-taking location offers gorgeous alpine scenery and some of the most stunning views you'll ever behold. From wildflower meadows filled with blooms in summer to pristine snowfields blanketed by winter's white powder, every time of year grants visitors an unforgettable experience at Hurricane Ridge. Read below for more information about how to make the most out of your visit.
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Hurricane Ridge is one of the most stunning locations within the Olympic National Park. Known for its breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, this picturesque location sits at an elevation of 5,242 feet. Its name originates from the fierce windstorms that often occur at the ridge. Apart from providing captivating panoramic views, Hurricane Ridge offers a host of activities for nature lovers, including hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and wildlife viewing. It's truly a year-round destination, offering a different, yet equally beautiful, experience in every season.
Where is Hurricane Ridge?
Hurricane Ridge is located in the heart of Olympic National Park, in the U.S. state of Washington. It's approximately 17 miles south of the city of Port Angeles and roughly 3 hours away. To get there, you'll travel on Hurricane Ridge Road, which stretches from the heart of Port Angeles all the way to the summit. It's one of the most easily accessible mountain areas in the U.S. National Park System, making it a popular destination for travelers looking for a good view with minimal physical effort hiking.
How to get to Hurricane Ridge
No matter which direction you'll be come from, you'll have to pass through Port Angeles, Washington first. Port Angeles is where Hurricane Ridge Road begins before winding all the way up to the summit of Hurricane Ridge. Many people like to stop in Port Angeles before heading into the park, so keep in mind that this town will be your last stop for groceries, fuel, and any gear you may have forgotten at home.
Seattle, WA to Hurricane Ridge: 156 mi | 3 hr 11 min | Google Maps
Portland, OR to Hurricane Ridge: 249 mi | 4 hr 47 min | Google Maps
Port Angeles, WA to Hurricane Ridge: 19 mi | 40 min | Google Maps
Forks, WA to Hurricane Ridge: 74 mi | 1 hr 40 min | Google Maps
Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada to Hurricane Ridge: 71.5 km | 2 hr 43 min | Google Maps
Is Hurricane Ridge open?
Hurricane Ridge is generally open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but it's always a good idea to check the Olympic National Park's official website for the most current information. Do note that the Hurricane Ridge Road, which leads to the summit, is subject to closures due to inclement weather conditions, especially during the winter months. It is also important to remember that the park typically requires all vehicles to carry tire chains from November 1 to May 1 due to possible sudden weather changes. Access to certain facilities like the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and the Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area may also vary by season, so it's recommended to call ahead or check online for detailed, up-to-date information.
Best time of year to visit Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park truly embraces the beauty of all four seasons. In spring, the park bursts into life with vibrant wildflowers and lush greenery, offering an idyllic setting for hiking and nature photography. Summer is the busiest season, boasting perfect temperatures, clear skies, and long daylight hours for various outdoor activities such as fishing, rock climbing, and wildlife viewing. Fall transforms the park into a colorful canvas of crimson, gold, and orange, providing a picturesque backdrop for leisurely walks and picnics. Winter, though a bit challenging due to snow and colder temperatures, nonetheless charms visitors with its tranquil, snow-covered landscapes, perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Each season offers a unique charm, making Olympic National Park a year-round destination.
Spring is a delightful time to visit Olympic National Park as the season paints the landscape with vibrant colors. From mid-April to June, the lowland forests and meadows are adorned with a variety of wildflowers, creating a picturesque setting for hiking and nature photography. The Hurricane Ridge ski area transitions into a haven for hikers, while the lower river valleys, now free of winter snow, become active with wildlife. Keep in mind that the higher elevations like Hurricane Ridge may still be snow-covered, making some trails inaccessible. The weather can be fickle during spring, with sunny, warm days often giving way to sudden showers, so packing layers and waterproof gear is advisable. Despite this, the mild temperatures and the serene beauty of the thawing park make spring an exceptional time to experience Hurricane Ridge and the rest of Olympic National Park.
Summertime, from July to early September, is the peak season to visit Olympic National Park due to its warm, dry weather. With clear skies and temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, it's the perfect time to enjoy all the outdoor activities that the park offers. Hurricane Ridge, being at a higher elevation, offers a refreshing respite from the heat. During this season, all trails are usually open and the meadows are awash with alpine flowers, offering a stunning contrast to the snow-capped peaks in the backdrop. Wildlife, ranging from deer to marmots and a variety of birds, can be spotted frequently. However, as it's the peak tourist season, expect larger crowds, especially on weekends. It's advisable to start your hikes early in the day to secure parking and enjoy the trails in relative solitude. Camping under a sky full of stars is another magical summer experience at Hurricane Ridge. Remember to book your accommodation well in advance as places fill up fast during these months.
Fall presents an enchanting time to visit Olympic National Park, particularly Hurricane Ridge, with the changing foliage transforming the landscape into a riot of colors. From September to mid-October, the meadows and forests take on hues of gold, orange, and red, creating stunning vistas against the backdrop of the Olympic Mountains. This season also sees a decrease in tourist traffic, allowing for a peaceful exploration of the trails. Cooler temperatures ranging from 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit make for comfortable hiking conditions. Wildlife sightings, especially of elk during their rutting season, are common. However, visitors should be prepared for sudden weather changes as late fall can bring early snowfall to higher elevations like Hurricane Ridge. Packing layers and warm, waterproof clothing is recommended. Despite the unpredictability, the crisp air, fewer crowds, and mesmerizing autumn colors make fall a unique and rewarding time to visit Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.
Winter transforms Hurricane Ridge into a true winter wonderland. From December through the end of March, the ridge gets covered in a thick blanket of snow, offering a dramatic view of the Olympic Mountains. This season is particularly popular among snow lovers who can indulge in a variety of winter sports like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding at the Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area. The snow-covered landscapes also present fantastic opportunities for winter photography. However, visitors should be prepared for the cold, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. It is essential to carry warm clothing, hats, gloves, and sturdy snow boots for a comfortable visit. The road leading to Hurricane Ridge can occasionally be closed due to heavy snowfall, and visitors are required to carry snow chains for their vehicles. Despite these challenges, the enchanting beauty of Hurricane Ridge during winter is worth the effort, offering a unique perspective of the Olympic National Park that few others get to experience.
Best time of day to visit Hurricane Ridge
The best time of day to visit Hurricane Ridge largely depends on what you're hoping to experience. For those keen on capturing stunning photography, the golden hours just after sunrise or just before sunset provide exceptional lighting conditions and dramatic views of the Olympic Mountains. If hiking is your primary interest, starting early in the morning is advisable as the trails are less crowded and temperatures are cooler. Wildlife enthusiasts have a good chance of spotting deer or marmots in the early morning or late afternoon. On clear days, midday can offer panoramic views encompassing Canada's Vancouver Island, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and on rare occasions, Mount Rainier. If you're visiting in the winter, please note that the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is only open from 10 AM to 4 PM, and the road to the ridge is typically open from 9 AM until sunset, weather permitting. Regardless of the season, always remember to check the road status before planning your trip.
What to pack for Olympic National Park
Venturing into national parks like Olympic National Park requires careful planning and packing to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Key items to include are suitable clothing for the weather, sturdy footwear, maps, water, snacks, sun protection, and a first-aid kit. Remember, nature can be unpredictable, so always be prepared for unexpected changes in weather or trail conditions, especially when exploring higher elevations like Hurricane Ridge.
Essential Packing List for Olympic National Park
Garmin inReach Mini 2: We never set off on a trail without this emergency SOS device. Yes it comes with a price tag but it's one of the best investments we've ever made.
Hiking Boots: Sturdy and waterproof hiking boots are a must for navigating the trails of Olympic National Park.
Waterproof Clothing: With the park's unpredictable weather, waterproof jackets and pants are essential.
Layers: Pack breathable layers for hot and sunny days, and warm layers for when the temperature drops. For more information about how to properly layer for the outdoors checkout this guide by REI.
Backpack: A comfortable backpack is crucial for carrying your essentials during hikes.
Hydration: Bring a reusable water bottle. Hydration stations are available at visitor centers.
Snacks: Energy bars or trail mix could provide the necessary fuel during long treks.
Maps and Compass: While the park's trails are well-marked, a map and compass can be useful backup.
First-Aid Kit: Always carry a basic first-aid kit for emergencies.
Sun Protection: Bring sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen to protect against the sun's rays.
Insect Repellent: To keep the bugs at bay during your visit.
Tire Chains: If visiting in winter, you are required to carry tire chains for your vehicle.
Warm Clothing: If visiting during colder months, don't forget warm clothing, hats, gloves, and sturdy snow boots.
Camping Gear: If you plan on camping, be sure to bring all necessary gear including a tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, and a headlamp.
Remember, every visit to a national park is a chance to connect with nature while learning to be a steward of these cherished public lands. Always pack out what you pack in and respect the park's rules to ensure these beautiful spaces are preserved for future generations.
Where to stay near Hurricane Ridge
There are plenty of accommidation options near Hurricane Ridge. You'll have your choice of places for where you want to stay ranging from lodges to camping right inside the park.
Camping Options Near Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
There are several camping options available near Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, offering various amenities and unique experiences. Like near most national parks, there is free camping in the national forests bordering the park. If you're looking for free dispersed camping, be sure to checkout our guide all about how to find free camping in the USA.
Located 12 miles north of Hurricane Ridge, this campground offers year-round camping with over a hundred sites nestled among old-growth forest. Amenities include potable water, flush toilets, and a summer ranger program.
Heart O' the Hills to Hurricane Ridge: 12 mi | 24 min | Google Maps
An hour's drive from Hurricane Ridge, this campground offers sites with spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, BC. It has tent and RV sites, tide pools, coastal trails, and a playground.
Salt Creek Recreation Area: 34 mi | 58 min | Google Maps
Remember, reservations are recommended during the peak summer season, and some campgrounds close during the winter. Always check the current conditions and availability before planning your camping trip in Olympic National Park.
Hotel Options Near Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
For those who prefer the comfort and convenience of a hotel stay, there are numerous options available near Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park:
This three star hotel is just a short drive away from Hurricane Ridge. The lodge offers comfortable rooms, a heated outdoor pool, fitness center, and an on-site restaurant serving up locally inspired dishes.
Olympic Lodge to Hurricane Ridge: 20 mi | 40 min | Google Maps
Remember, to ensure availability, make sure to book your accommodation well in advance, especially during the peak season or holidays.
Lake Crescent Lodge to Hurricane Ridge: 38 mi | 1 hr 2 min | Google Maps
Are dogs allowed at Hurricane Ridge?
Yes, dogs are allowed at Hurricane Ridge, but there are specific rules to ensure the safety and comfort of all visitors and the protection of wildlife. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times, and the leash should not exceed six feet in length. Dogs are permitted in picnic areas, campgrounds, and along roadsides. However, they are not allowed on trails or in the wilderness and should not be left unattended. Always remember to clean up after your pet to help maintain the cleanliness and beauty of the park.
Best hikes at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park is indeed a hiker's paradise, boasting some of the most picturesque trails in the United States. Each trail offers a unique form of beauty that leaves a lasting impression on every explorer. From the rolling meadows of the Hurricane Hill Trail to the breathtaking vistas of the Klahhane Ridge Trail, there's a trail to captivate everyone's interest. Whether you're an experienced hiker looking for a challenging trek or a novice wishing to take in the awe-inspiring views, there's a trail at Hurricane Ridge waiting for you. Even in the chillier months, the snow-covered landscapes offer a stunning backdrop for snowshoeing. Be sure to check the park's conditions and trail closures before heading out to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.
This 3.4-mile round trip trail is a favorite among visitors due to its spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Suitable for hikers of all skill levels, the trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips.
A short and sweet 0.9-mile trail that's perfect for a quick taste of the park's beauty. The trail offers a fantastic viewpoint overlooking the park and is good for all skill levels. We've watched sunrise here before and can't recommend it enough! It's an absolutely beautiful view of the sunrise!
The Obstruction Point Trail in Olympic National Park offers an off-the-beaten-path experience for avid hikers. This roughly 13.9-mile challenging trail takes you through alpine meadows, providing breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains and the chance to spot local wildlife.
Remember, always check trail conditions before you head out, and be prepared with the right gear and supplies. Happy hiking!
Other things to do near Hurricane Ridge
The areas surrounding Hurricane Ridge are overflowing with opportunities for adventure and fun. You can explore the mystical Hoh Rain Forest, take a scenic drive along the Lake Crescent shoreline, or hike the enchanting trails of the Elwha River. For those who enjoy water activities, the nearby Sol Duc River offers excellent opportunities for fishing and bird watching. With so much variety in proximity to Hurricane Ridge, there are endless ways to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Olympic National Park.
Hiking at Lake Crescent: Just an hour's drive from Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent offers a beautiful environment for hiking. The crystal clear waters of the lake and the towering trees make for a breathtaking scenery that's hard to forget. We highly recommend the Mount Storm King hike, specifically at sunrise if you're up for a little bit of a challenge.
Wildlife Viewing at Elwha Valley: A 44-minute drive from Hurricane Ridge, Elwha Valley is an excellent spot for wildlife viewing. You can see a variety of species in their natural habitats including elk, bald eagles, and black bears.
Fishing at Sol Duc River: If you're an angler, head to Sol Duc River, about an hour and a half drive from Hurricane Ridge, for some fishing. The river is home to several species of salmon, and you can also catch trout. Remember to adhere to park fishing regulations.
Mountain Biking at Adventure Route: For those who love the thrill of mountain biking, the Adventure Route offers 66 miles of trail. Located just under an hour's drive from Hurricane Ridge, the trail offers an adventure-packed experience for those wishing to explore the area on two wheels.
Exploring Dungeness Spit: The Dungeness Spit is the longest natural sand spit in the United States and houses the New Dungeness Lighthouse. Located about an hour's drive from Hurricane Ridge, it's a fantastic place for birdwatching and beachcombing.
Remember to check with local authorities and park officials for updates on trail conditions and regulations before planning your activities in Olympic National Park.
Hurricane Ridge is a star attraction in Olympic National Park and shouldn’t be overlooked. Filled with breathtaking views, thrilling activities, and plenty of trails to explore, every visitor can find something to love here. With all this in mind, it's easy to understand why Hurricane Ridge should be at the top of your list for places to visit when vacationing in the Pacific Northwest. Through its plethora of natural sights and awe-inspiring activities, everyone who chooses to experience Hurricane Ridge will come away with unforgettable memories and treasures that will last a lifetime. So why wait? Pack your bags and take off for an exciting getaway—visit Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park today!
Like this post? Checkout our other Washington and Olympic National Park travel guides.
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We're Chris and Sara
A creative husband and wife duo from a small-town in Tennessee with passion for all things travel. Checkout the links below to join us on our past, present, and future adventures!