HURRICANE RIDGE SKI AREA, OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
Operated by the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club
“I HAVE SKIED IN THE OLYMPICS.”
These words have been printed on Hurricane Ridge lift tickets since 1958
The Hurricane Ridge Ski Area opened January 1, 1958 with two rope tows relocated from Deer Park on Blue Mountain. These engines are still in use today! A Poma surface lift was added in 1971. Hurricane Ridge remains a small, family-oriented ski and snowboard area, supporting a ski school, ski team, terrain park and tubing area and operated by a non-profit winter sports club with a companion 501(c)3 education foundation.
In the 1930’s Deer Park was Washington’s premier ski area. That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s true. Thanks to the U.S. Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps, there was a road, a lodge and by 1936 a ski tow.
A 1939 Black Ball Line ad in the Washington Motorist promoted “a new, unsurpassed ski field” and a “good road to ski lodge.” Now that was hyperbole! The so-called “good road” was a treacherous, one lane, dirt Forest Service road (uphill before 2PM; down after 3PM) and the “ski lodge” was a CCC crew barracks and cookhouse with dormitory-style bunks (girls upstairs, boys downstairs; bring you own bedding). The ski tow was a very short rope tow powered by a motorcycle engine.
In March 1938, Olympic Ski Club had its first championship meet at Deer Park, a Pacific Northwest Ski Association event. It drew 800 competitors and spectators. The Seattle Mountaineers were well represented at the meet.
The 1950s saw a resurgence of road and facility construction in national parks. In 1956, the National Park Service launched an ambitious program called Mission 66, so named because it was to conclude in 1966, the 50th anniversary of the Park Service. This resulted in a paved, two-lane road to Hurricane Ridge and the ski area was moved from Deer Park.
For skiers, the move to Hurricane Ridge meant a much-improved road and better snow and slopes, but the loss of overnight lodging and lots of nostalgia.
While the rest of America has seen a vast expansion of ski areas and advances in chairlifts and facilities, Hurricane Ridge has continued its small operation of rope tows and a surface lift. Hundreds of young skiers have learned to ski on its slopes. Many think that small, affordable ski areas like this will make a comeback.
Written by Roger M. Oakes, Past President, Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club