Hurricane Ridge Snowshoeing helps you to Explore Olympic National Park in the Winter

A couple in full winter on an Olympic National Park snowshoe tour pose with the Olympic mountains in the background

Enjoy an Olympic National Park Snowshoe at Hurricane Ridge

Experience Olympic no longer offers snowshoeing tours.  During the winter season, we instead offer guided tours to the Hoh Rainforest, the Olympic Coast Beaches, Elwha River, Lake Crescent, Cape Flattery, and various lowland hiking options.  We also offer birding tours and birdscaping experiences year-round.

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A jubilant participant on a Hurricane Ridge snowshoe tour puts his hangs up in the air on a particularly sunny day with snow-laden trees in the background

Olympic National Park's guided snowshoe walk

Olympic National Park's guided snowshoe walks last 1.5 hours on relatively flat terrain that can accommodate up to 25 people.  Check the timing and date range on these walks.  Start as soon as the Hurricane Ridge road is open in the morning or be prepared for possible long lines at the Heart of the Hills fee booth and limited parking to no parking in the Hurricane Ridge parking lot.

Why Tour Hurricane Ridge in the Winter

Although you can cross country ski and sled, Hurricane Ridge is great for snowshoes and backcountry skis & snowboards. The solitude and lack of motorized vehicles (no snowmobiles for example) allows for an excellent winter soundscape. 

A view looking out towards people playing in the snow from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center porch bordered by icicles

Wilderness Ethic

The humble little visitor center and ski trailer at Olympic National Park's Hurricane Ridge bears little resemblance to the large commercial ski resorts in the Cascades and Canadian Rockies.  Only minimal modification to the natural environment has occurred at Hurricane Ridge due to the wilderness designation of Olympic National Park.  If you are attracted to a wilderness landscape, Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park offers the snow clad mountains of your dreams that have been compared to the European Alps.

Close-up frontal view of a brown Snowshoe Hare that reveals its large hind feet

Snowshoe hares

Olympic Peninsula Snowshoe Hares brave winter on the top of the snow at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.  Most of the time, their tracks are the only evidence of their existence.  If you are lucky enough to observe a Snowshoe Hare in the winter, you might be surprised to see a brown animal as their fur never turns white.  Finding tracks is part of the joy of Hurricane Ridge snowshoe explorations.

Two curious gray jays sit in a snow and ice covered subalpine fir tree hoping for a handout at Hurricane Ridge

Let's hope for a good snowpack!

Snow on Hurricane Ridge can last into July but usually there is only sufficient and continuous snow for Olympic National Park snowshoeing through March.  A good way to check the current Hurricane Ridge snow levels is to look at the Hurricane Ridge webcam.  Slow melting snow in Olympic National Park enables a diversity of subalpine plants and animals to survive during dry summer conditions.  

Four smiling participants are enjoying a sunny winter day on snowshoes during a Hurricane Ridge snowshoe tour

Advantanges to Winter Travel

Port Angles experiences a plethora of summer visitors so those who visit from December to March will find lower lodging rates and fewer requirements for advanced planning (allowing you to make snap decisions based on the weather).  The exception is during the week around Christmas and New Years when the Hurricane Ridge road is scheduled to be open daily and visitors abound.

Olympic Peninsula Weather and Plan B Options

Be prepared for a Plan B Olympic National Park hiking alternative (bring hiking boots).  For longer distance hikes on snow or ice, consider bringing and using traction devices which function like tire chains and assit your shoes ability to grip slippery terrain.

a panorama shows a couple taking a selfie with the Hurricane Ridge snowscape that includes snow covered firs and mountains

Bring and Know How to Use Tire Chains

Olympic National Park requires all vehicles to carry tire chains when ascending the 18 mile Hurricane Ridge road in winter.  Vehicles without chains (even those with 4-wheel drive) have slipped off the road, so make sure you don't just carry chains but you also know how to use them.  Most importantly, exercise extreme caution on the road, go slowly, and help each other out!

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