There are a few genuinely great scenic drives tucked away inside US national parks, and Hurricane Ridge Road is one of them.
Here’s what you need to know to plan your drive on Hurricane Ridge Road and back, including amenities, the best viewpoints, and ideas for things to do!
Good to Know: Hurricane Ridge Road is sometimes referred to as Heart o’the Hills Road.
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We explored many parts of this corner of the Pacific Northwest, including Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Sequim, and Port Ludlow.
While the trip was hosted by the OPTC, all opinions are my own, including thoughts I share about my visit and my tips for what you should do during your trip to Washington state.
About Hurricane Ridge Road
Hurricane Ridge Road was built in the 1950s to increase visitation to Olympic National Park.
The road leaves from Port Angeles, starting at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center.
and passes by the Heart O’ the Hills Ranger Station and Heart O’ the Hills Campground.
The road runs for over eighteen miles each way and is an important stop on any Olympic National Park road trip.
The road ends at the top of the hill at the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center, where you’ll find a parking lot.
Plan Your Trip: Things to Know about Hurricane Ridge Road in Olympic National Park, Washington
Here’s what you need to know before you drive Hurricane Ridge Road!
Is Visiting Hurricane Ridge Worth It?
Yes, it is! The road itself is beautiful, even before you get to see the view of the Olympic Mountains from the top.
Along with the Hoh Rainforest and Lake Crescent, Hurricane Ridge is one of the most popular places to visit in Olympic National Park.
And the road doesn’t just offer mountain views, there are also places where you can see the Strait of Juan de Fuca and peek all the way to the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, Canada!
Current Hurricane Ridge Road Conditions
Hurricane Ridge gets between thirty and thirty-five feet of snowfall each year, and the snow isn’t only confined to the winter months!
That’s why you should check with the National Park Service for the current road conditions and weather forecast at the top before making your way up.
You can do this by checking the ONP road conditions page on NPS.gov, asking the ranger at the entrance station, or stopping by the Visitors Center for up-to-date road and weather conditions at the top.
In general, the route is a paved road (unless you decide to continue on Obstruction Point Road).
The route is about eighteen miles each way, and the road climbs from near sea level to an elevation of 5,242 feet.
If you are concerned about driving visibility or snowpack, you can check the Hurricane Ridge webcams to see visibility in the mountains and how full the parking lot is.
How to Get to Hurricane Ridge Road
Hurricane Ridge Road leaves from Port Angeles, Washington.
You’ll take Mount Angeles Road out of Port Angeles until you pass the Olympic National Park entrance sign and the Olympic National Park Visitor Center.
Past the Visitors Center, you’ll turn right onto Hurricane Ridge Road.
The entrance is only an eight-minute drive from downtown Port Angeles.
If you are coming from a different area of the Olympic Peninsula, you will need to make your way to Port Angeles, as this is the only entrance to Hurricane Ridge Road.
The Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles is reachable by car from most nearby cities. Here are the drive-times without traffic or extended ferry lines:
Port Ludlow – 62 minutes
Port Townsend – 65 minutes
Forks – 65 minutes
Port Gamble – 70 minutes
La Push – 80 minutes
Bainbridge Island – 105 minutes
Tacoma – 125 minutes
Quinault – 142 minutes
Olympia – 146 minutes
Seattle – 159 minutes
Good to Know: The easiest way to get to Hurricane Ridge is to drive your own car. If you are flying into the area and aren’t bringing your own car, you can reserve a rental car to pick up at the Seattle Airport when you arrive.
Reserve your car early, as rental cars sell out in this part of the country.
Olympic National Park Entry Fees
The only way to drive on Hurricane Ridge Road is in Olympic National Park, so you will need to pay the entry fees for the park.
For a non-commercial vehicle, the entrance fee for seven days is $30. This covers up to fifteen people arriving in a single vehicle.
If you live in the area and plan on visiting the park on multiple trips over more than a week, you can get an Olympic National Park annual pass for $55.
If you have an America the Beautiful national parks pass, you can get free entry to Olympic National Park.
When is the Best Time to Drive Hurricane Ridge Road?
The most important thing is to know whether or not Hurricane Ridge Road will be open, as it has different hours every season.
As of right now, there is no reservation system for driving Hurricane Ridge Road or entering Olympic National Park, so the time of day you choose to drive will depend on your plans.
If you are visiting in summer, you might want to take the road up early to make sure you can get a spot in the parking area at the top.
This will also help you to avoid uphill traffic, which can add stress to your drive if you aren’t used to driving in the mountains.
If you are visiting in winter, pay attention to the road’s open times and make sure you have exited before the road closes for the day.
If you would like to see the sunrise on Hurricane Ridge, note that the drive will be in near-complete darkness until the first light breaks. This is not possible in winter due to later opening times.
Driving Hurricane Ridge Road in Winter
Hurricane Ridge is the most popular destination in Olympic National Park for winter sports, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and downhill skiing.
Even during winter, there are days when concessions are open.
The Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club operates two rope tows, a tubing park, and a Poma lift.
However, the winter season on Hurricane Ridge Road comes with complications. You can check the Hurricane Ridge Winter Twitter account @HRWinterAccess for up-to-date opening and closing information.
The winter season at Hurricane Ridge lasts from late November through the end of March, and the Twitter account is active during the winter season only.
Some winter sports continue past the end of April, so check with the club to see if any winter sports are possible during your travel dates.
If you plan to drive Hurricane Ridge Road in winter, you will be required to have tire chains.
Good to Know: If you don’t want to bring your own winter gear, the gift shop in the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center rents out skis and snowshoes on days when they are open.
What to Wear to Hurricane Ridge
I’ll be the first to admit that I was underdressed at Hurricane Ridge Road.
This is because we ended up changing our itinerary at the last minute to take advantage of a clear day to enjoy the great views at the top.
But rather than wear a jean jacket, I wish I had been able to pull out my packable down jacket, which would have kept me warmer.
Here’s what you should wear on Hurricane Ridge if you’re traveling from April through October and don’t plan on doing any activities in the snow. These clothes will also work in other places in the park like Sol Duc Falls, Marymere Falls, and Lake Crescent.
Good to Know: If you want your jacket to pop in photos, bright colors like red, blue, and yellow are easier to see on camera.
For men, these Closed-Toed Walking Shoes will do the trick.
If there is a lot of snow at the top but you aren’t planning on doing any winter sports, I wouldn’t bother bringing snowshoes.
Instead, just stay out of the snow. Your hiking shoes will be just fine elsewhere on Hurricane Ridge Road. However, keep enough layers with you in case you have a car accident and have to get out in bad weather.
I didn’t need the long underwear in Olympic NP in April, but if I had wanted to stay outside longer at Hurricane Ridge they would have come in handy.
You’ll also want a good pair of sunglasses, as the top can be very bright – especially if there’s still snow. I brought a pair of prescription lenses.
If you plan to do winter sports, dress accordingly.
Guided Hurricane Ridge Road Tours
If you won’t have your own vehicle with you during your trip, or you don’t feel comfortable driving through mountain areas on your own, you can book a guided tour of Hurricane Ridge.
The Hurricane Ridge Guided Tour in Olympic National Park includes pick-up and drop-off in Port Angeles, as well as a guided hike at the top.
If you are coming from Seattle, this Olympic National Park Tour from Seattle includes round-trip transportation from Seattle.
You’ll see Hurricane Ridge Road, Lake Crescent, and the Elwha River among other stops.
Hurricane Ridge Parking
There is a parking area at the top, but it does fill up in summer. There is no additional cost to parking at Hurricane Ridge.
Check the parking lot webcam if you are concerned about finding a spot.
Things to Do at Hurricane Ridge
I’ve already covered the winter activities available at Hurricane Ridge, but there are so many things to do here during the rest of the year as well.
Besides enjoying the 360-degree views from the top, you can go hiking, continue to on to drive the guardrail-less 8-mile gravel Obstruction Point Road which starts at the end of the road, attend ranger programs, enjoy a picnic in the picnic areas, and look for wildflowers.
At the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, you can watch an orientation film, see exhibits about Hurricane Ridge, and visit the concessions and gift shop.
Weather permitting, you can also use Hurricane Ridge as a jumping-off point to explore the backcountry. Just make sure you are registered in the park and pay for any necessary back-country permits before you go.
Hurricane Ridge Trails
There are eight hiking trails with trailheads that leave from (or lead) to the Hurricane Ridge area and Hurricane Ridge Road:
Cirque Rim Trail – 0.5 mile each way
Big Meadow Trail – 0.25 mile each way
High Ridge Trail – 0.5 mile loop
Klahhane Ridge Trail- 3.8 miles each way
Hurricane Hill Trail – 1.6 miles each way + 700 ft elevation gain
Wolf Creek Trail – 8 miles each way
Little River Trail – 8 miles each way
Hurricane Hill/Elwha Trail – 6 miles each way
Best Hurricane Ridge Road View Points
There are many pullouts along Hurricane Ridge Road where you can stop and take in the view. However, some of these are obstructed by trees which block the views of the mountains.
Besides the sweeping vista views at the top of the ridge, make sure to stop at these Hurricane Ridge Road viewpoints:
Ancient Lake Morse Overlook – Beautiful mountain views and where I probably heard Sasquatch.
Strait of Juan de Fuca Overlook – On a clear day you can see all the way to Victoria, British Columbia.
How Long Does it Take to Drive Hurricane Ridge Road and Speed Limit
The road takes 30-45 minutes to drive each way, but that doesn’t take into account the extra time to stop and look at the scenic viewpoints or any traffic you may encounter.
Plan to spend at least two hours visiting Hurricane Ridge and driving Hurricane Ridge Road if you don’t plan to complete any hiking trails while you’re here.
This will be 60-90 minutes of drive time with extra time for getting out and taking in the views, using the restrooms, etc.
Wildlife to Look for on Hurricane Ridge Road
We didn’t see any wildlife while on Hurricane Ridge Road – but we did hear an animal making loud whooping sounds. We are pretty sure it was Sasquatch. I mean, duh.
Other, non-Bigfoot animals that you might see near Hurricane Ridge Road include black bears, eagles, deer, mountain goats, Olympic marmots, and snowshoe hares.
Good to Know: While you might not see all of these animals during a single visit to ONP, you probably will see all of them over time if you continue to travel to US National Parks.
In the last year, I’ve been to seventeen national parks and seen every one of these animals except snowshoe hares!
Hurricane Ridge Road Accessibility & Amenities
Two of the trails at Hurricane Ridge are accessible with assistance: Cirque Rim and Big Meadow.
There are also accessible restrooms and parking at the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center.
Other amenities include two picnic areas, concessions, a gift shop, restrooms, and paved trails.
Driving Hurricane Ridge Road with Babies, Toddlers, and Kids
I didn’t bring my son on this trip, but we’ve taken him to sixteen US national parks in the last year, so I know that parents will want some of this information.
Children will be fine in the car on the drive up, and most of the viewpoints have guardrails.
If your children get carsick easily, you should bring some nausea medicine just in case.
I don’t get my son out at scenic overlooks typically, simply because getting in and out of the car seat is such a pain. Plus, you never know when a toddler will decide to just throw their entire body in a random direction.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to chase a toddler on the side of a mountain. It’s not worth it, and the stress will ruin your day.
If you are traveling with other adults, make sure everyone is on the same page about what conditions warrant getting babies, toddlers, and very young children out of the car, and which don’t.
In our family, we wait until we can go on a short walk or have a picnic in a location that is easier to safely manage.
When we get out to see scenic overlooks, we go one adult at a time so that our son can stay safe in the backseat.
Some of the hiking trails are family-friendly as long as your children can follow safety instructions. I have friends who have done these trails with older kids, and I can’t wait until we can do that as a family!
If you are hiking with a baby or toddler, you will want a baby carrier. Our family uses this baby carrier for our son when we hike on non-stroller-friendly trails.
Driving Hurricane Ridge Road with Pets
Pets are allowed in the car, in campgrounds, in picnic areas, and on certain trails. None of the trails in the Hurricane Ridge area are pet-friendly.
I have seen multiple dogs out in the parking lot at Hurricane Ridge, and this goes against ONP rules.
The only places in the park outside of campgrounds and picnic areas where pets are allowed are:
Peabody Creek Trail
Rialto Beach parking lot to Ellen Creek
The beaches between the Hoh and Quinault Reservations (Kalaloch area)
Madison Falls Trail (Elwha)
Spruce Railroad Trail
July Creek Loop Trail
If you bring your pet to one of these pet-friendly trails, they must stay on a leash and you must clean up after them.
I know it’s not fun to have to leave your pet behind during your trip. I’ve had to do the same in Badlands National Park and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
However, the rules are for your pet’s protection, so don’t break them.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hurricane Ridge Road
Here are the questions that travelers ask the most about visiting Hurricane Ridge Road.
Is the road to Hurricane Ridge open?
This changes on a day-by-day basis, so check with the National Parks Service before attempting to drive up.
Can you drive to the top of Hurricane Ridge?
Yes, you can drive all the way to the top at the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center.
Is the road to Hurricane Ridge scary?
I think mountain roads in Glacier National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are much scarier, but if this will be your first time driving in mountains then it may be nerve-wracking.
What is the name of the road to Hurricane Ridge?
The road is called Hurricane Ridge Road, but it’s sometimes referred to as the Heart o’the Hills Road.
How far is Hurricane Ridge from the nearest town?
The drive from downtown Port Angeles to the beginning of Hurricane Ridge Road is only eight minutes without traffic.
5 Things to Pack for Olympic National Park
A Packable Down Jacket – everyone in our family has one. They’re light and easy to keep in your backpack or car, but they’re warm enough to make a huge difference if the weather turns cold.
A Lightweight but Durable Backpack – My Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack was a steal for the price. It’s survived 17 national parks as well as trips to Mexico and El Salvador!
It won’t last forever, but it has more than proved its worth so far.
A Pair of Binoculars for parks where I’m going to be looking for wildlife. I use these binoculars, and my husband has a separate pair.
A Portable Charging Bank in case my phone dies. Having a portable charger for your phone is crucial.
This is a safety issue as my offline maps may be the only way to navigate in the park where there’s no cell phone data available, as well as the convenience of being able to use my cell phone camera.
I relied on this heavily during my time in Olympic National Park, as cell phone coverage on the Olympic Peninsula was spotty in places and nonexistent in swaths of ONP.
A Basic First Aid Kit to handle minor issues while you are out. Don’t let a hot spot on your foot turn into a blister, or leave a small cut open to the elements.
I keep a small first aid kit in my backpack at all times when we are on the road.
Where to Stay Near Olympic National Park
You can stay at one of the park lodges or camping grounds, but they do book up very far in advance! Everything on the peninsula books up early (especially in the summer) so always get a room as soon as you can.
We stayed in two towns: Port Angeles and Port Ludlow. Port Angeles is 8 minutes from the bottom of Hurricane Ridge Road and Port Ludlow is about an hour away.
In Port Angeles, we stayed at the Red Lion Hotel. While I’ve heard other Red Lions in Washington are outdated, ours was renovated and located right on the water!
My room was comfy and clean, and you really can’t beat how close Port Angeles is to Olympic National Park. This was a great choice for a base for exploring the park!
In Port Ludlow, we stayed at the Resort at Port Ludlow. This hotel was one of my favorites that I stayed at near any US national park.
Our dinner at the hotel’s Fireside Restaurant was an outstanding meal in a region already known for great cuisine.
My room was cozy, with a beautiful view of the water and boats in the marina.
Oh, and it had a working fireplace, a large jacuzzi bathtub, and windows in your room so you enjoy them at the same time!
There’s also a golf course if you and your partner are into that sort of thing.
I adored my time at this hotel and hope to make it back one day!
If you are looking for a different vibe, make sure you get a hotel on the Olympic Peninsula and not across the Hood Canal Bridge.
While I love the towns on the other side of the water on the Kitsap Peninsula, you don’t want to be stuck having to cross the bridge each time you want to get to OP.
We spent thirty minutes waiting for the bridge to go up and back!
Good to Know: the OP gets booked up for summer months in advance. Never delay making hotel reservations in this part of the world!
More Washington State Resources
Here are all the resources I have written about travel in Washington state.
Washington State Guides
Olympic Peninsula Guides
Kitsap Peninsula Guides
Tri-Cities and Southeastern Washington Guides
Before You Visit Washington – Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
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