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Hurricane Ridge

In September we made a family excursion to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park. I have lived in the Seattle area for 21 years now, and I can't believe that I never went there before now. It is absolutely amazing. The only challenge is that news of The Internet and GPS technology do not seem to have reached the Olympic National Park. They do have a Web site, but their maps and directions are terrible, and there is no address for the ranger station so you can't punch it into your GPS. You will just need to go to Port Angeles on Highway 101 and follow the signs. The road to Hurricane Ridge intersects with Highway 101.

From Seattle to Hurricane Ridge is about a 3 to 4 hour drive depending on ferry crossings and traffic. Driving in the Olympic Peninsula is always nice. Any of the towns that start with "Port" are worth seeing, and there are plenty of things to do and see.

The road up to Hurricane Ridge is scenic - which in a National Park seems to translate to "carved into a mountainside with few, if any, guardrails." This one was less hangy-off-the-side-of-the-cliff than, say, the road to Paradise at Mt Rainier, but if you are prone to car sickness you will still need your meds or barf bracelets. One caution - you will be driving from sea level to over 5200 feet, so it might be colder, or even snowing, at the top. Be sure to check the current conditions before you go.

There are several scenic overlooks where you can pull over and see views like the one, below. On a clear day, you can see Victoria, B.C. across the Straight.

When we arrived at the Visitor's Center at the end of Hurricane Ridge Road, we could smell the smoke from forest fires that have been burning this Fall. Looking south, below, we could still make out the tops of the Olympic Mountains through the haze. Caution: This is not a petting zoo. This is a huge natural area that has bears, cougars, mountain goats, and lots of other animals. If you see wildlife, they are not tame. Leave them alone, and keep your kids away from them, too.

There are short, paved trails that take people from the parking lot to a spot just over a low rise so they can look North, too. Even though it was a warm, late September day, there was still a small pocket of snow just below the overlook.

Pictures just don't do this trip justice. If you want to go, watch the weather, pick a clear day, and head out. There are plenty of bead and breakfast hotels, camp grounds, etc., in the Port Angeles area if you want to make a weekend out of it.


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