Hurricane Ridge reopens, reaches capacity within 3 hours
Jun 27, 2023, 8:35 AM | Updated: 10:44 am
(Photo from the National Park Service)
Update 10:38 a.m.:
Within three hours of reopening, Hurricane Ridge has already reached it’s capacity of visitors due to the park’s daily restroom limit.
The National Park Service at Hurricane Ridge tweeted out at 8:17 a.m., a little over an hour after opening they had reached half capacity. At 10 a.m., they announced that the road was closed to private vehicles due to the “daily sanitation limit.”
At 10:00 am, Tuesday 6/27/23, the daily sanitation limit has been reached at Hurricane Ridge and the road is closed to private vehicles for the rest of the day past Heart O’ the Hills entrance station.
— Hurricane Ridge NPS (@HRWinterAccess) June 27, 2023
After a fire at a lodge in Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge closed the area indefinitely, officials are now saying the park is now reopen starting June 27.
The National Park Service (NPS) announced at the beginning of June that while “significant work remains to be done,” they are working as fast as possible to reopen the area to visitors safely.
According to the NPS, access to the Hurricane Ridge area will remain closed beyond the Heart O’the Hills entrance station for the time being.
On May 7, the Day Lodge at Hurricane Ridge — a 71-year-old visitor center at Olympic National Park — erupted in flames. The fire was first reported by a law enforcement ranger on patrol. Both 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. While the fire was quickly contained, with the fire only spreading minimally, the building was lost.
The Day Lodge was a two-story, 12,201-square-foot historic structure built in 1952. It was closed to visitors as it was undergoing an extensive rehabilitation project funded through the Great American Outdoors Act.
Officials originally said that the area would be closed indefinitely while they worked to “assess and mitigate any hazards to ensure the area is safe for the public” as well as determine what had caused the fire at the lodge.
“Investigators are at the site looking into the cause of the fire,” Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs said. “We’re also figuring out how to provide restrooms, how to manage parking, and how to eventually remove the lodge debris.”
Third-party certified fire investigators, alongside the NPS’ Regional Structure Fire Program Manager, are currently examining the site to determine the cause and origin of the blaze.
Hurricane Ridge is one of the most easily accessed mountain areas within Olympic National Park, frequently visited by both tourists and residents for its fantastic scenic views — in clear weather. Hurricane Ridge is located 17 miles south of Port Angeles. There are eight hiking trails tied to Hurricane Ridge, ranging from less than a mile to nearly 10 miles, and one camping ground.
While Hurricane Ridge is a popular area in Olympic National Park, with more than 300,000 visitors annually, there are 600 miles of hiking trails in other areas of the park, including the Pacific Coast, the lush forests of the Elwha and Sol Duc valleys.
“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,” Jacobs said. “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.”
Park access is currently limited to only 315 cars per day due to limited restroom capacity.