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Olympic National Park- Photographs from Hurricane Ridge

Updated on August 14, 2016
Stephanie Henkel profile image

As a full-time RV'er, Stephanie writes about many natural wonders to be found in the U.S. National Parks and Monuments are her favorites.

View from the Top of the World - Hurricane Ridge in the  Olympic National Park.
View from the Top of the World - Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park. | Source

Hurricane Ridge Seems like the Top of the World

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series on the Olympic National Park on Washington's Olympic Peninsula.

Wildflowers line the road to Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge, in the Olympic Mountainous region of the Olympic National Park, is one of the most beautiful spots on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. The roadside are lined with spectacular wildflowers and the meadows at the top of the ridge has beautiful displays in spring and summer. Along the scenic drive there are fantastic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and snow capped Olympic Mountains. Our visit at the end of August coincided with not only beautiful weather, but a profusion of wildflowers in bloom which I photographed endlessly. Below I've shared some of my pictures, but you'll want to take many of your own photographs when you visit!

Olympic National Park - Photographs of Hurricane Ridge and Wildflowers

Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge. Photograph copyright ©2010 Stephanie Henkel
Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge. Photograph copyright ©2010 Stephanie Henkel | Source
Olympic Mountains in the Olympic National Park
Olympic Mountains in the Olympic National Park | Source
Source
Colorful wildflowers lined the banks on the road to Hurricane Ridge.
Colorful wildflowers lined the banks on the road to Hurricane Ridge. | Source

Finding Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is located on the Olympic Peninsula in the Northwest corner of Washington. The park is open all year long, though some roads and campgrounds may be closed in winter. A good place to start your visit is at the Park's Visitor Center in Port Angeles. There you can get a good overview of the park as well as maps and information on driving, hiking and camping in the park. They can also give you information on areas that may be closed because of road construction or bad weather.

Olympic National Park Mountains

Olympic National Park is host to several different ecosystems: Mountains with Alpine and Sub alpine climates; Forest; Rain forest; Rivers and Lakes; Coastal. These ecosystems are found in the three distinct regions of the park: the mountains, the rain forest and the coast.Because each region is an adventure of it's own, I've focused on each one separately. In this article, I focus on Hurricane Ridge which has the most dramatic and easily accessible views. If you are are lucky enough to drive to the top of the ridge when the weather is clear, you will have amazing views of the Olympic Mountains. On a clear day you can see across the the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada's Vancouver Island. It's truly a "top of the world" view.

Tips for Visiting Hurricane Ridge

Do check in at the Visitor Center on the day of your trip to the top of the mountain as they can tell you what the weather conditions and visibility are for the day. Clouds and fog can make driving treacherous and obscure the mountain views. It's much better to wait a day for good weather if you can.

We started our visit at Port Angeles at the foot of the Olympic Mountains and drove 17 miles up the steep, winding road to Hurricane Ridge. How lucky we were to arrive in late August when wildflowers covered the hillsides and lined the roadways! There are many pull-offs along the road where photography buffs can get one more shot of the views across the Strait of Juan de Fuca or close-ups of the wildflowers flowers. That's probably one reason why it took us two hours to reach the Visitor's center at the top of Hurricane Ridge!

The Hurricane Ridge visitor center is at an elevation of almost a mile high. From the parking lot, there are trails which climb through alpine meadows that gives wonderful views of the surrounding Olympic Mountain Range. There are Ranger led walks, or you can take a leisurely stroll on the paved or gravel walkways. Hikers will find many trails to test their skills. Even in August, there are some spots of snow on the distant mountain tops. The day we drove to the top of the mountain was sunny and clear, but as we gained altitude, clouds and mist moved about the mountain peaks. It was a wonderful opportunity to take some really interesting photographs and gave us the feeling of standing among the clouds and looking down on the mountains. We sat on the terrace of the visitor center to enjoy the view, then headed onto the dirt road that led higher up the mountain to Obstruction Point. There we found picnic tables tucked in among the trees or perched on the edges of the banks. A deer came out to watch us as we ate our picnic lunch there.

Wildflowers in the Olympic National Park

Wildflowers carpet the meadows and roadsides on the drive to Hurricane Ridge.
Wildflowers carpet the meadows and roadsides on the drive to Hurricane Ridge. | Source

Wildflowers of the Olympic Peninsula

Despite dire warnings about the frequent rains and cloud cover in Washington, the weather was perfect for the entire month of our visit. The Olympic Mountains shelter the valleys of the Olympic Peninsula causing a rain shadow effect which protect it from excessive rain. The town of Sequim, boasting some of the best weather in Washington, is known for its lavender farms. It was delightful to see pots and gardens blooming with the fragrant herb. We even visited some of the lavender farms in the area.

In August, blackberries were ripe everywhere.  Although it's not wise to pick berries along roadsides because of possible pesticide use, we did find some out-of-the way places that were loaded with berries and enjoyed them immensely.   The wildflowers were in full bloom along the roadsides and were spectacular in park's alpine meadows.

Flowers Photos - Hurricane Ridge Drive

Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge.  Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge. Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge.  Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge. Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge.  Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge. Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge.  Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge. Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge.  Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge. Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge.  Olympic National Park.  Washington.
Flowers along roadside on drive to Hurricane Ridge. Olympic National Park. Washington. | Source

Olympic Peninsula Photographs

Port Wilson Lighthouse on the Olympic Peninsula
Port Wilson Lighthouse on the Olympic Peninsula | Source
Lavender Fields in bloom on Olympic Peninsula.
Lavender Fields in bloom on Olympic Peninsula. | Source
Blackberries abound along roadsides on the Olympic Peninsula.
Blackberries abound along roadsides on the Olympic Peninsula. | Source
Dungennes Spit.  Olympic Peninsula, Washington.
Dungennes Spit. Olympic Peninsula, Washington. | Source

Check Camping Guides for RVing in National Parks

Camping in Olympic National Park

If you are a camper, you may decide to camp in one of the park's lovely campgrounds. Olympic National Park has 16 campgrounds with a total of 892 campsites.  Eleven of those campgrounds have RV sites, those some have length restrictions. The park is open all year, but some of the roads and campgrounds are closed in the winter. If you plan a winter visit, call ahead for information.

Kolalach campground will take reservations, but all others are available on a first come, first served basis. Each campsite generally has a fire pit and picnic table. There are no sites with electric or water hookups, though there is usually water available in each campground. There are no showers or laundry facilities. Although you can't usually reserve a campsite, you can call ahead to check on campsite availability.

If you are driving an RV, call ahead to check on size restrictions as there are a few campgrounds where you can only bring in rigs less than 21 feet. Campground fees range from $12-$18 a night. America the Beautiful Senior passes are honored for a 50% discount.

RV dump station fees are $5 per use (dump stations available at Fairholme, Hoh, Kalaloch, Mora and Sol Duc campgrounds)

Visit the Olympic Peninsula!

Washington's Olympic peninsula is a diverse and exceptionally beautiful place to explore and to get in touch with nature, and the Olympic National Park is a great place to start. If you have the opportunity to visit, be sure to take full advantage of all that the park has to offer.

Happy Trails!

Stephanie


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