After a 17 mile (29 km) ascent up the Hurricane Ridge Road, you come about a tight right hand curve and arrive at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. Until the curve, the splendor and majesty of the Olympic Mountains is hidden from view. The very popular area has a two story visitor center with a large parking lot which can accommodate cars, trucks, motor homes and even tour buses.
Though the drive up can be a bit harrowing if one is afraid of roads along a mountain ridge with no guardrails.
Considering how hard it can be to find a parking space during the busy summer months, most people find a way. Once parked, you can find out all about Hurricane Ridge inside the visitor center.
When you enter the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center from the parking lot, you are on the upper floor with a National Park Service information counter where a Ranger or volunteer can answer questions and supply maps of the subalpine environment of the ridge. Behind the counter are interpretive displays on Olympic National Park history, floral and fauna, a short documentary plays at a touch of a button and chairs and benches surround a wood stove used during the winter months. Downstairs is the gift shop full of all kinds of apparel and souvenirs and a snack bar.
From the snack bar, you can go outside to the patio with picnic tables, benches and this view…
The patio is the perfect place for people to take photos of themselves and their family and friends traveling with them.
There are paved trails fully handicap accessible where people can explore the subalpine life of Hurricane Ridge. The Cirque Rim Trail is on the north side with views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Port Angeles.
The Big Meadow Loop Trail meanders through a Subalpine Fir forest and, though the trees are only a feet tall, they are nearly a hundred years old due to the harsh environment and short growing seasons. The trees grow under the winter snow cover which create skirts seen in the photo below.
I got down low and used my camera’s flip out viewfinder to photograph these Pearly Everlasting (Anaphlis margaritacea) wildflowers. June is the better time for wildflowers but, as the name suggests, Pearly Everlastings bloom throughout the growing season.
While 95% of Olympic National Park can only be explored by wilderness hiking, the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is a wonderful day trip to explore a part of this wilderness most people would never be able to enjoy.