Snowshoeing at Hurricane Ridge is one my favorite winter activities I have ever done. Hurricane Ridge has incredible mountain views and on a clear day you can see Canada, Juan de Fuca Strait, the Puget Sound, Mount Baker, and of course the Olympic Mountains with the incredible Mount Olympus.
The best way to explore the snow at Hurricane Ridge in the winter is to strap on snowshoes and hike around the ridge to see different viewpoints which offer changing views of mountains, valleys, and water.
This guide will tell you all that you need to know to snowshoe at Hurricane Ridge, whether you have never been there before or you have been there a hundred times.
****Note: This post may include affiliate links to products I recommend. I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) from purchases from these links. But no worries, I only include links to products that we have tried or truly recommend!
*****Everything in this article is my personal opinion and experiences. Check your own resources and choose to do anything I discuss at your own risk. Some of the things in this post may be dangerous and not recommended for every body.
About Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge is one of the most visited areas of Olympic National Park. The closest town is Port Angeles on the northernmost side of the Olympic Peninsula. It is known for fast winds and wet weather, hence the name “Hurricane” Ridge. The winter is filled with large amounts of snow and the summer is filled with wildflowers and sun.
There was a lodge at Hurricane Ridge for many years, but it burned down in 2023. At Hurricane Ridge there are currently heated bathrooms, but no other facilities available.
How to get to Hurricane Ridge in the Winter
A unique feature of Hurricane Ridge is that there is a groomed road all the way up to the ridge. Most places that have views as incredible as Hurricane Ridge require a hike to get to the top, but here you can drive all the way to the top, making it easier for those with mobility challenges able to see the same incredible view.
In the winter, the road is open Friday through Sunday weather permitting. There is an awesome team that cleans the road, but if the weather is too bad, the road will be closed. Also, sometimes the road will open, but with delays. It is really important to check the road conditions on the national park website prior to making your way to the road.
All vehicles are required to have tire chains in their car, even if you do not use them. There are usually recommendations given in the road-opening announcement as to if chains are recommended on 2-wheel-drive vehicles or all vehicles.
Why Snowshoe at Hurricane Ridge?
Hurricane Ridge gets over 30 feet of snow every year. There is a ton of snow throughout most of the winter and walking in boots alone can be dangerous for multiple reasons. Also, the snow may be much deeper than you think and can easily fall quite deeply into the snow, making it difficult to get very far. Snowshoes spread your weight over a greater area so that you do not fall into the snow, but they also have sharp pieces of metal on the bottom to give you traction so that you do not slip or fall.
Hurricane Ridge is the best place to snowshoe on the Olympic Peninsula due to the road bringing you so high into the mountains. Most other parts of Olympic National Park either do not have snow or the snow is up at much higher elevation than the road ends so you will have a long hike to even get up to where the snow is.
Where to get snowshoes near Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park?
The national park offers ranger-guided snowshoe tours on the weekends in winter, weather-permitting. These tours offer the guided snowshoe walk and also provide the snowshoe gear. These are usually in the afternoon and have a limit of the number of participants. It is free to participate. For more information on the ranger-guided tours, visit the Olympic National Park website.
There are various groups that offer private snowshoe tours as well. These are quite expensive and much more expensive than just renting snowshoes. To enjoy snowshoeing at Hurricane Ridge, I would say that you do not need to pay for an expensive tour to get started with snowshoeing. If you are wondering if you should be a part of an organized tour or should try on your own, I recommend talking to the national park rangers as they will be able to give the best guidance based on your skill level. I recommend calling or emailing their office for more information.
There are several ways to rent snowshoes. A local shop in Port Angeles, Browns Outdoor, offers snowshoe rentals at a great price. I would recommend checking them out first. Another great rental option is through REI. The closest REI to Hurricane Ridge is located on the Kitsap Peninsula in Silverdale which you pass through if you are heading to Hurricane Ridge from Seattle. Renting snowshoes is a great way to try out snowshoes, especially if you are not sure if they are an investment you would like to make.
If you plan on snowshoeing more than a few times, buying a pair of snowshoes could be a good decision for you. Rentals can be quite expensive if you are going to snowshoe for multiple days or multiple times throughout the winter. We bought our snowshoes from Amazon at a really good price and they have lasted us well. You don’t need the absolute best snowshoes offered on Amazon or in stores, so I don’t’ recommend paying for expensive snowshoes if they are your first pair.
If you want to get super fancy, MSR brand of snowshoes is the most common “expensive” brand that people buy.
Regardless of where you are buying your snowshoes, make sure that you buy the appropriate size based on your weight and they type of snowshoeing you plan on doing.
Hurricane Ridge Snowshoeing
Hurricane Ridge Picnic Area
Many people snowshoe to the Hurricane Ridge picnic area. This is a great goal if it is your first-time snowshoeing. The Hurricane Ridge picnic area is around 1 mile from the parking area. Follow the snow-covered road down the hill. If you are snowshoeing or walking, keep to the left as this is the lane designated for walkers while the right lane is designated for skiers.
If you continue down this road, there will first be a viewpoint to your right of the Juan de Fuca Strait and Canada. Continue on the road and there will be a sharp turn at which you will have your first great view of Mount Olympus and the surrounding mountains. Continue down from here until you reach the picnic area which will be on the left side. You will see a building that is usually bathrooms (but is closed in the winter). If you continue through the trees, an expansive view will emerge. Depending on the snow level, the picnic tables may be completely covered in snow, or partially clear so you could sit.
If you would like to go further, you can continue to Hurricane Hill. This is a popular route for snowshoeing in the winter. If you hike all the way to Hurricane Hill, it is around 6 miles round-trip from the parking area with a total of around 1600 feet of elevation gain. On a clear sunny day, it can be an absolutely incredible hike. At the top of Hurricane Hill there are incredible views of Mount Olympus, the Olympic Mountains, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. On a clear day, you can see Canada and Mount Baker in Northern Washington.
Some serious snowshoers opt to snowshoe to Mount Angeles in the winter. This can be an extremely dangerous (but beautiful) hike. The safety of the hike really depends on the most recent conditions. It is around 6 miles round trip. If you think you may want to snowshoe to Mount Angeles, I recommend checking with Olympic National Park rangers before planning your trip. This is definitely not a snowshoe hike for beginners, but may be nice for a very experienced snowshoer.
Tips for Snowshoeing at Hurricane Ridge
Bring lots of layers to stay warm
Wearing layers while snowshoeing is the best way to ensure you stay the right temperature. Hurricane Ridge is known for being windy and cold in the winter, so make sure you have good clothing and gloves to stay warm at the worse possible conditions. However, with snowshoeing you can sweat a lot which is not advised in the winter as sweating will make you much colder in the long run. Try to avoid sweating and take off layers of clothes as you warm up to prevent overheating and then freezing.
Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen
In cold weather, we aren’t as thirsty or hot as we are in the summer, so we often forget to drink enough water and can easily get sunburned. If sunny, the sun not only comes from the sky, it also reflects off the snow and exposes you to even more sun rays. Be sure to sunscreen any exposed areas, even the back of your hands (trust me, I have learned this the hard way lol).
Be aware of avalanche risk
Hurricane Ridge is a ridge as the name suggests with sharp drop-offs on each side of the ridge. Since it is so steep, this increases the risk of avalanches. Depending on what trail you snowshoe on, there can be high avalanche risk, especially at the end of the season when the snow is heavy. Both the full trail to Hurricane Hill and the Mount Angeles trail crosses some avalanche chutes. If you have any concerns about avalanches or are unsure how to assess for avalanche, I highly recommend talking to national park staff before embarking on your snowshoe hike.
Bonus tip: be on the look out for the Canadian Jays
One of my favorite parts of Hurricane Ridge is not the incredible views, but the sweet Canadian Jay birds that are very friendly and like to land on people or come close to people. They are very curious birds that closely approach humans. They are super sweet and are fun to watch. Don’t feed the birds as this makes them more accustomed to people, and they are fun to watch even without feeding them!
Other Recommended Gear for Snowshoeing at Hurricane Ridge
- Trekking Poles
- Hand warmers
- Winter Coat
- Base Layers
- Winter Hiking Pants
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Thanks for reading! Let me know any comments or questions you may have in the comments below 🙂