Hurricane Ridge a winter playground

With snow blanketing higher elevations, Olympic National Park visitors can start planning their winter adventures.

The majority of the park’s snow play opportunities take place at Hurricane Ridge.

Park plowing crews are already working to make sure the road is open Fridays through Sundays, and Monday holidays, through March 29. The road also is scheduled to be open daily Dec. 26- Jan. 4.

Park visitors are reminded that all vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive, must carry tire chains when traveling above the Heart O’the Hills entrance station through April 1.

The road might also close temporarily if the parking lot becomes full. To make best use of the available parking spaces, park staff members urge Hurricane Ridge visitors to carpool and pay extra attention to making the best possible use of the parking area.

Here is a look at the status of other amenities at Hurricane Ridge:

HURRICANE RIDGE VISITOR CENTER: The center will be open Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays beginning Saturday, and daily Dec. 26-Jan. 4. Before Saturday, and on Fridays when the building is not staffed, only the foyer, which includes an indoor restroom, will be open. Also beginning Saturday, the information desk will be staffed 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends and Monday holidays through March 29, as well as daily Dec. 26-Jan. 4.

SNACK BAR AND SKI SHOP: The Hurricane Ridge snack bar and ski shop, with both ski and snowshoe rentals, is scheduled to be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends and holiday Mondays from Saturday through March 29. It too will be open daily Dec. 26-Jan. 4.

GUIDED SNOWSHOE WALKS: Ranger-led snowshoe walks will be offered at 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays Saturday-March 29, as well as Dec. 26 and Jan. 1. Snowshoe walks last 90 minutes and are less than 1 mile in length. Space on the walks is limited, so people should sign up at the visitor center information desk beginning 30 minutes before the scheduled walk. A suggested $5 donation per participant to park partner Discover Your Northwest helps provide snowshoe walks and repair and replace snowshoes.

SKIING, SNOWBOARDING, TUBING: Weather permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Ski, Snowboard and Tubing Area will operate 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays now through March 29. The area also is scheduled to be open daily Dec. 26-Jan. 4. More information about the area is available at hurricaneridge.com.

Tubing and sliding are permitted for children 8 years and younger at the Small Children’s Snowplay Area just west of the visitor center. If conditions become too dangerous for sliding, the snow-play area will be closed. Check at the visitor center for current information.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING AND SNOWSHOEING: Opportunities for cross-country skiers and snowshoe walkers range from open, level meadows near the visitor center to extreme terrain in the park’s backcountry. Anyone skiing or snowshoeing beyond the immediate Hurricane Ridge area should sign in at the registration box in the visitor center, and be prepared for steep terrain and the possibility of avalanches. Hurricane Ridge is subject to extreme winter conditions, including sudden storms, whiteouts and avalanches, making planning and preparation for winter conditions vitally important.

OVERNIGHT WILDERNESS CAMPING: Overnight wilderness camping is permitted in the Hurricane Ridge area with advance registration. Winter camps must be at least 0.5 mile from the Hurricane Ridge parking area. Overnight parking is not permitted at Hurricane Ridge. Parking and shuttle options are explained at the time of registration. More information is available by calling Olympic National Park Visitor Center & Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100 or 360-565-3130.