Experience Olympic National Park in Winter with a Hurricane Ridge Snowshoe Tour

A couple in full winter attire on snowshoes pose with the Olympic mountains in the background

Snowshoe Tours at Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Enjoy a full day ExperienceOlympic Snowshoe tour that can be organized as a moderate hike of about 2 miles (3.2 km) roundtrip, or a more vigorous hike of up to 5 miles (8 km) roundtrip.  The Hurricane Ridge snowshoe tours offered by ExperienceOlympic include transportation to and from Hurricane Ridge, entrance fee, snowshoes, ski poles, gaiters, gloves, hats, extra top layers, hot beverage, and lunch.  Tours typically start at roughly at 8 AM and end at roughly 4 PM  - this equates to up to four hours on trail, including time for lunch.

Check out local ecotour rates for Olympic National Park guided ecotours

A jubilant participants on snowshoes puts his hangs up in the air on a partically sunny day with snow-laden trees in the background

Visit snowy Hurricane Ridge in the winter or spring

Winter access to Hurricane Ridge allows for year long access to Olympic’s 3 Parks:  mountains, forests, and coast.  Port Angles experiences a plethora of summer visitors so those who visit during the winter and spring 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. 

Wilderness Ethic

The humble little visitor center and ski trailer at 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.  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. 

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

Weather, Road Conditions, and Plan B

From roughly Thanksgiving to Spring Break, the Hurricane Ridge road is usually only open Friday to Sunday and holidays (including holiday Mondays).  However, the Hurricane Ridge road can close with little to no advanced notice due to weather, unsafe road conditions, equipment issues, or staffing shortages.  Be prepared for a Plan B hiking alternative (bring hiking boots)  that will hopefully still allow for snow access with multiple hikes beginning at approximately 2000 feet (610 meters).  For longer distance hikes on snow or ice, Experience Olympic offers use of traction devices which funciton like tire chains and assit your shoes ability to grip slippery terrain.

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

Winter activities at Hurricane Ridge

Although you can cross country ski, downhill ski, sled, and snowboard, Hurricane Ridge is much more exciting as a snowshoeing and backcountry skiing destination.  The solitude and lack of motorized vehicles (no snowmobiles for example) allow for an excellent winter soundscape.  Olympic National Park requires all vehicles to carry tire chains, which rental car companies often don’t provide and may not allow. 

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

Snowshoe hares and snowshoeing humans

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, 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.

Let's hope for a good snowpack at Hurricane Ridge!

The month of April usually transitions to daily road access and may have sufficient snow for continuing to enjoy Hurricane Ridge snowshoeing.  Snow on Hurricane Ridge can last into July but usually there is only sufficient and continuous snow for snowshoeing through April.   The slow melting snow at Hurricane Ridge enables a diversity of subalpine plants and animals to survive during dry summer conditions.  

The snowscape from Hurricane Ridge shows snow covered firs and mountains as well as many feet of snow

Olympic National Park's short snowshoe walk

Alternatively, Olympic National Park may offer snowshoe walks lasting 1.5 hours on relatively flat terrain that can accommodate up to 25 people.  Check the timing and date range on these walks as this is totally separate from an Experience Olympic snowshoe tour.  No matter which guided Hurricane Ridge snowshoe option you decide to enjoy, do consider visiting Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge this winter or spring.  During the 2016-2017 winter season, there were some days with long lines at the Hurricane Ridge toll booth and limited parking in the Hurricane Ridge parking lot.  Try to get an early start, especially on holiday weekends!