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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Jennifer Cook

Olympic National Park-Post #1

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

The main entrance to the Olympic National Park is only a couple of hours away from our house on the KP (Kitsap Peninsula). We can actually see the mountains from our area on a clear day. Due to the size of the park we decided to break this post into four separate blog entries. We are doing this for multiple reasons, but mostly because each area within the park is so uniquely different from the other parts of the park. Trying to put it all into one big post would not do the park justice, so today we will start with Hurricane Ridge.

A few facts about the size of the Olympic National Park: If you were to drive around the perimeter of the park it would take you over eight hours and you would clock 329 miles on your car. The entire park covers 633,600 acres of beautiful land. There are pristine lakes, snow capped mountains, beaches and ocean views, and some of the most gorgeous rainforest you could ever hike in. If you are going to truly explore this park we would recommend at least four days to really see what this park has to offer!

The main entrance to the park is actually located in the city of Port Angeles. As a matter of fact, our adventure to Hurricane Ridge started there. The city borders the San Juan Strait on one side looking across the water at Canada and on the other side it borders the Olympic National Park with soaring mountains looking down on everyone in Port Angeles. It is stunningly beautiful no matter where you look. As we were walking around on the pier in Port Angeles, I noticed my husband looking back at the mountains and I could see a mischievous look in his eyes. I glanced toward the area he was looking at and I could see a small clearing in the sky over the snow covered mountain peaks. When he quizzically looked at me and asked if I was up for a change of plans, I told him to lead the way. We hopped back in our car and headed for the park entrance. As we were driving, David mentioned that he wondered what it was like on the mountain peaks. It was at that moment that he decided that there wasn't a better way to learn than to go up there and see. Sometimes it is all about being in the moment.

This was our view from the pier looking back toward the park:

After a brief stop at the visitor center to pick up a map (and a warning) we were on our way. What was the warning? The warning was that there was a massive snow storm blowing in at the higher elevations in the park. I was surprised, it was in the 60's down in the city! As a matter of fact they had already closed the visitor center on Hurricane Ridge and were going to be closing the area to traffic in three hours. 😳 We didn't let that deter us though! We took that as a challenge and ventured forth. Though we did note that NO ONE else was going up the mountain and that we were going to be pretty much on our own. A little ways up the road we got our first indication that the snow can get pretty high in this area. (David could not even come close to reaching the top of this snow marker!) The views were already beautiful though.

A little ways further and we reached a perfect spot for a short hike. Yes, we knew were on a time crunch, but we also knew we could come back anytime we wanted, so we took advantage of no one else being around to take in a few views.

Once we drove through a tunnel in the mountain the weather started to change quickly. The dark clouds rolled in, and it started to snow, but on we climbed.

We had to slow down a bit as the roads became more and more snow covered, but eventually we made it to the visitor center at Hurricane Ridge. It is a slightly uncomfortable feeling being all alone at a closed visitor center during an early afternoon. Sadly, our views at the top were not epic. A lot of people say they could have filmed The Sound of Music in these mountains because they are so reminiscent of the Swiss Alps. I suppose we will have to come back another day to confirm that opinion. However, we enjoyed the moment as we soaked in the cold temperatures, the privacy and the beautiful snow before we started our drive back down the mountains. It might not have been a perfect first visit to the park (the epic views would have made it perfect), but it was a wonderful experience for us. We embrace going on adventures when the weather is less than ideal. You sometimes do get some breathtakingly unique pictures, and you usually have the places to yourself. The trade off is sometimes it is not perfect, but that is ok. We loved the snow in early October, and we knew we would be back!

As we said goodbye to the Olympic National Park on this day we looked back at this beautiful view, and it reminded us of how much we love this life we get to live.

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