Olympic National Park, WA, hopes to reopen the Hurricane Ridge area to visitors this summer, but significant work remains to be done, according to park officials.
The area was closed after a May 7th fire destroyed the 71-year-old Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge, leaving behind potentially hazardous debris and a lack of water, electricity, and restrooms. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
“We are working as fast as we can to get Hurricane Ridge open safely for visitors. Investigators are at the site looking into the cause of the fire. We’re also figuring out how to provide restrooms, how to manage parking, and how to eventually remove the lodge debris.”
– Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs.
The park is working with Clallam Transit, the public transportation provider for Clallam County, on a plan to continue offering bus shuttle service once the area is safe to reopen.
“We want visitors to return to Hurricane Ridge, but we expect things to look different this summer. There will likely be limits on the number of vehicles that can visit the ridge each day. There will also be some days when the road is fully closed due to debris removal. We ask that visitors keep an eye on our website for any alerts.”
– Sula Jacobs
While the mountainous Hurricane Ridge is a popular visitor destination with more than 300,000 visitors in a typical year, the 922,000-acre national park has many other accessible areas, including the Pacific Coast, the lush forests of the Elwha and Sol Duc valleys, glacial lakes and more than 600 miles of hiking trails.
For more information on the park and updates, visit: Olympic National Park.
Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge (Visitor Center) Frequently Asked Questions:
Why Can’t I get to Hurricane Ridge?
The Hurricane Ridge area will remain closed while investigators determine the cause and origin of the fire that destroyed Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge on May 7th.
When will Hurricane Ridge reopen?
It is too early to say. Before the area is reopened, park officials must assess and mitigate any hazards to ensure the site is safe.
Can I hike into the Hurricane Ridge area?
Remember that snow still covers much of the area in and around the ridge. Adventurous hikers can still access areas near Hurricane Ridge, but Hurricane Ridge Road is closed beyond Heart O’ the Hills campground and the Hurricane Ridge area.
Are there other places in the park that are still open?
The good news is that most of the park is open and accessible. Visit our Plan Your Visit Page for ideas on where you can go and what you can do.
How can I help? I want to donate to the rebuilding of the lodge.
Thank you for your support of Olympic National Park. It’s too soon to say what will happen, but in the meantime, you can help the park by visiting Washington’s National Park Fund’s web page and social media platforms. The Fund is the park’s official philanthropic partner.
At about 4:30 p.m. on May 7th, a law enforcement ranger on patrol reported that the 12,201 square foot Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge, a popular visitor center destination in Olympic National Park, was engulfed in flames. Clallam County Fire District 2 and Port Angeles Fire Department responded to the fire. By the time the crews arrived, the building had collapsed to the foundation. The structure continues to smoke under the rubble but is contained within the footprint of the building. The fire crews left the scene at about 7:30 p.m.
“The park team and I are saddened by the loss of the Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge, an iconic structure in the park and one of its most popular sites. We are extremely grateful for the response of park partners in Clallam County Fire and the Port Angeles Fire Department, who responded to the incident. We are also grateful for the outpouring of support from the community as we move forward.”
– Superintendent Sula Jacobs
The Day Lodge, located in the park’s most easily accessed high alpine area, had been under construction since April 3rd and was closed to visitors. The Hurricane Ridge area had been on track to reopen later this month before Memorial Day weekend, but the building was to be closed for two years.
Park officials say the structure appears to be a complete loss. The building was built in the 1950s and housed interpretive exhibits upstairs, a gift shop, and a small café run by Aramark, a park concessioner. In the wintertime, the concessioner rented out snowshoes and skis. The majority of the contents of the building had been removed before the start of the rehabilitation work.
According to Wikipedia, Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area is a small ski area in the northwest United States, located on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. It is within Olympic National Park, seventeen miles (27 km) south of Port Angeles.
Hurricane Ridge is one of only three lift-serviced ski areas operating in a U.S. National Park (Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park and Boston Mills/Brandywine Ski Resort in Cuyahoga Valley National Park are the others). It is the westernmost ski area in the continental United States.