Washington

Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park

When you explore Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, it feels like you’re on top of the world! Gorgeous snow-capped mountains surround you and the ocean sparkles below. With such phenomenal views, it’s easy to see why it’s a crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest.

You don’t want to miss this beauty on your next road trip! Jacob and I absolutely loved exploring here and we’re sharing fun things to do, must-do hikes, and what to expect when you visit. It’s a great, easy way to get a feel for the area if you don’ have too much time to spend in Olympic National Park.

PS: You might also want to hike to Klahhane Ridge or camp at Second Beach while you’re in the area.

Quick facts

0.8 – 1.6 km // 2 hrs
Trailhead

A hiking trail disappears into the distance, lost in a sea of green grass.
A ridge top hiking trail at Hurricane Ridge with mountains and cliffs on either side.

Things to do

Hurricane Ridge is located in the Pacific Northwest and is one of the most accessible areas in all of the Olympic Mountains. It’s only 17 miles (27 km) from Port Angeles, which makes it perfect for an afternoon — or morning! — adventure. Plus, the views are just stunning. Honestly, I’d go just for them.

When you step out of your car, you’ll notice an immediate drop in temperature and heavy winds. It’s definitely aptly named — the winds have been documented at 75 mph! Don’t worry though, they aren’t usually that strong so you don’t have to worry about being blown off the mountain.

Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

The Visitor Center overlooks the beautiful Olympic Mountains and doubles as a ranger station. However, compared to other National Park Visitor Centers the exhibits are pretty minimal. Nevertheless, the rangers always know what’s happening in the park and have lots of useful trail info.

There are maps of Olympic National Park, a few exhibits about the area’s natural and culture history, a discovery room for kids, and an award-winning orientation film that’s available upon request. There’s also a small gift shop, washrooms, and a snack shop. You can also enjoy ranger talks and guided tours from here.

The Visitor Center is open daily during the summer and weekends throughout the rest of the year.

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Hurricane Ridge Road winds through a thick sub-alpine forest on the side of the hill in the Olympic Mountains.
The parking lot overlooks a stunning panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains.
A look towards the Visitor Center from the parking lot at the top of the hill.

Family-friendly hikes

There are a ton of hiking trails in the area and some are definitely easier than others. The three main hikes at Hurricane Ridge are perfect for all ages and fitness level, though. And luckily for you, you don’t have to choose because you only need a single afternoon to enjoy all three! We’ve included more info about each later in this article.

As with any hike, remember to pack your ten hiking essentials even if you’re only planning on exploring a little. When we visited, we impulsively decided to hike to Klahhane Ridge and really regretted not having enough gear.

Wildlife + plants

Hurricane Ridge is abundant with wildlife such as blacktail deer, goats, marmots, and bears. The animals aren’t usually skittish, but you need to always give them their space. Never feed them or actively seek them out. Remember that they’re wild animals and can be dangerous, even if they don’t look it. If you want to brush up on your bear safety, we wrote an article that’ll help keep you safe.

During the spring and early summer, wildflowers grow with abundance on the sub-alpine hills. There are numerous interpretive signs along the way that’ll teach you about the plant life.

A panoramic view of the parking lot and Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center on a green hill and snow-capped mountains.
Sam and Jacob from Explore the Map take a selfie while hiking. The Olympic Mountain range disappears in the background.
Sam from Explore the Map poses for a photo with the Olympic Mountain range.

Hiking trails

The three main trails are the Big Meadow Trail, Cirque Rim Trail, and High Ridge Trail. All three offer spectacular views of the Olympic Mountain’s white glaciers and sub-alpine meadows.

Our favourite part about hiking here — besides the incredible views — is walking along the ridge tops. Many sections of the trails follow ridge lines and give you a truly unique view of the mountains. Don’t worry, though, the ridges don’t have steep cliffs and are usually pretty wide. You won’t fall of the mountain.

The Big Meadow + Cirque Rim Trail

The Big Meadow and Cirque Rim Trails are fully paved, wheelchair accessible trails that meander through beautiful meadows. These easy, mostly flat trails are about a half mile long (0.8 km) each and begin at the Visitor Center.

From both of these trails, you’ll see the Strait of Juan de Fuca sparkle 5,000 feet below as you wander through wildflower filled meadows. You’ll enjoy wonderful views of the sub-alpine forests as well.

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Pnoramic view of snow-capped mountains.
Map of the hiking trails at Hurricane Ridge.
Jacob from Explore the Map takes a photo of the Olympic mountain range with snow capped mountains in the background.

The High Ridge Trail

The High Ridge Trail is one mile (1.6 km) long and unpaved. Because of this, it’s more challenging than the others. You’ll wander through the beautiful meadows and after climbing a steep hill, you’ll enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains.

As you near the middle of the loop, you can branch off to Sunrise Point or Klahhane Ridge. Sunrise Point is only a short walk along a ridge and we definitely recommended it. If you’re able to visit at sunrise, enjoy a breathtaking moment as the sun rises over the snow-capped mountains.

Klahhane Ridge

You can also hike to Klahhane Ridge, which is a somewhat difficult 7.2 mile (11.6 km) hike. It’s a great trail that starts very easy and gets harder. Bring lots of water, stay hydrated, and pack your ten essentials! Don’t just impulsively decide to hike it like we did.

Although I’ve mentioned it here, Klahhane Ridge isn’t one of the main hikes at Hurricane Ridge.

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View down the Olympic mountain range with a road winding through the thick, green forest.

Packing suggestions

Hurricane Ridge is open year-round and is a popular destination for hikers, skiers, and snowshoers. No matter the season, you can enjoy the amazing views and fresh air! We’ve gathered a list of gear that’ll keep you happy no matter the season.

If you’d like to buy your gear from sustainable brands, we’ve put together an article about some of our favourite outdoor brands that do just that. Some of them donate time, money, or resources, whereas others support outdoor-related legislation, increased education, or eco-friendly resources.

Here’s what you can expect from each season:

Summer

The summer season is from mid-May to October and is the busiest time of the year. Hurricane Ridge Road is open 24 hours a day and the Visitor Center is open daily. Plus, with long summer days you’ll have plenty of time to explore the beautiful mountainside at your leisure.

Even though the summer is busy, the crowds disperse pretty quickly and aren’t usually a problem. Besides, the huge blue skies, blossoming wildflowers, and snow-capped mountains are worth any amount of crowds you’ll find.

What gear should you bring in the summer? Even though it’s often sunny, it can still be chilly and a light jacket is always a good idea. The trails aren’t too hard, so you can easily wear a pair of comfy sandals or runners and a tank. If you have long hair like me, consider a headband to help keep it under control. And don’t forget your lip balm and sunscreen — it might not seem hot, but that doesn’t mean the sun won’t get you!

Winter

The winter season is from October to mid-May and offers plenty of fun winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and tubing. In fact, Hurricane Ridge is one of only three ski areas in a US National Park! The hill often receives over 30 feet of snow and it’s common to find snow as late as July.

The road is only open on weekends (weather permitting) from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. You’re required to have chains and must be down the mountain by 5:00 pm. The Visitor Center is usually open when the road is open. If you want to try snowshoeing or skiing, you can rent the equipment from the rental shop in the Visitor Center. There’s also a 1.5-hour ranger-guided snowshoe tour you can enjoy from mid-December to late March.

Winter at Hurricane Ridge is unpredictable. When you’re packing, make sure to be prepared. Base layers and wool socks are always at the top of our list, along with toques, winter jackets, and gloves.

This article contains some affiliate links, which means if you buy something through our links we’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We’re very grateful every time you choose to support us. Thank you!

View of the Olympic Mountains from the mountainside hiking trails.

Final notes

Hurricane Ridge is great if you’re short on time in Olympic National Park. Hell, it’s worth visiting even if you’ve already checked out other parts of the park! It’s extremely easy to get to, is great for all ages and fitness levels, and, best of all, offers amazing views for little effort.

Cost

You’ll need to buy a National Park pass to access the park. You can buy your pass online, but you do need to print it so it can be scanned at the gate. There’s different pricing available for cars, hikers, and motorcycles. No matter which you buy, the pass is reasonably priced. If you’re planning on visiting lots of National Parks, the annual pass pays for itself very quickly.

If you enjoy group tours, you can also meet up with a guide in Port Angeles and explore the park that way.

Parking

There’s a huge parking lot at the top near the Visitor Center. It’s very long and has breathtaking, panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding parking.

Directions

It’s very easy to get to the park. Simply start at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center near Port Angeles and stay on Hurricane Ridge Road until you reach the second Visitor Center at the top of the mountain. The road is paved the entire way and you don’t need any special type of vehicle. Only in the winter do you have to carry tire chains.

The drive from Port Angeles takes roughly 45 minutes. It’s a windy, uphill drive that rewards you spectacular views of snow-capped mountains and huge forests. As you near the sub-alpine mountaintop, the trees start to thin and the panoramic views begin to reveal themselves.

I hope you enjoy exploring Hurricane Ridge! If you have any comments or questions, pop them in the comment section below.

Are you planning a road trip in the Pacific Northwest? You don\'t want to miss Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park! It has beautiful, accessible hiking trails for your entire family and gorgeous 360° views of the Olympic Mountain range. It\'s a crown jewel of Washington state, that\'s for sure! Learn all about hiking at Hurricane Ridge here! #olympicnationalpark #pacificnorthwest #hurricaneridge #hiking #roadtrip

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Adena Charlson
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Thanks for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such great information being shared freely out there.

April Carlson
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April Carlson

Hey- i enjoyed reading about hurricane ridge but since i am not familiar with the area i wasnt sure where it is- maybe if you put that it is located in washington state at the beginning or give people a little bit of information about Olympic National park that would be helpful.

Sam Cullen
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Thanks for the feedback April! I’ve added some info about Olympic National Park to the beginning :)

April Carlson
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April Carlson

Thanks! If you have spent more time doing other hikes in the Olympic National Park I would love to read more about it

Sam
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Unfortunately we didn’t get to spend too much time there, but we did hike the Klahhane Ridge trail. We were a little unprepared for it, but it was still an amazing hike! http://explorethemap.wpengine.com/klahhane-ridge-olympic-national-park/

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