Spot Check: The Hurricane Ridge, Washington 14.5

Located in the Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, Hurricane Ridge is the only place I know of in the Continental U.S. where you can view the Pacific Ocean while riding at a ski area-well, the Strait of Juan de Fuqua may not be open ocean, but damn it’s close.

The Ridge ain’t a destination resort-there isn’t a quaint European village and a tram with a four-star restaurant at the top. In fact, there’s only one poma lift, two rope tows, and the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, which provides a public-warming room, a brown-bag lunch area, restrooms, and exhibits. The ski lifts are operated by the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club, a nonprofit group organized to promote winter recreational activities for skiers and snowboarders. Hurricane Ridge is more like a throwback to the ski areas of 30 years ago-a place where a person can go alone or take their family and simply enjoy the outdoors for what it really is.

Thanks to this “community” atmosphere, the Ridge has a bitchen snowboard scene, complete with numerous local rippers (I refuse to list any names for fear of leaving someone out), secret pow stashes, and the Homeschool/Snack-time videos. With some hiking, the terrain surrounding the Ridge provides some classic Northwest hips and quarterpipes, bowls, and the occasional steeps. The snowpack can be unstable, so educate yourself before going into the backcountry and take the proper lifesaving equipment.

The Ridge isn’t necessarily the place to move if you’re trying to become a snowboarding rock star. But if you’re into riding good terrain with hella cool people and don’t mind putting forth an effort, I highly recommend checking out Hurricane Ridge.

Summit elevation: 5,200 feet
Average annual snowfall: 500-plus inches
Ski lifts: One poma and two rope tows
Vertical drop: 665 feet
Information: (360) 452-0330
Snow conditions and road information: (360) 452-0329