Yesterday I spent some time at Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park. I had been itching to get up there as soon as the meadow wildflowers came into full bloom and our Pacific Northwest weather cooperated. I keep my eyes on the park’s live web cam each day to see what’s going on in the weather department and with the mountain meadow colors. Well, this week I finally spotted the purple color in the mountain meadows through the web cam. Yesterday morning, our local Seattle area weather was grey and overcast with marine cloud cover, but the live webcam showed the sun shining. A perfect photo op! By that, I mean the marine clouds were in the low valleys with sun shining on the mountains. Within 30 minutes I was packed up and headed out the door!
Within 2 hours I was surrounded by pure, natural bliss! First of all, if one expects to do photography work at Hurricane Ridge, he/she needs to arrive in the early morning hours because the mountains are oriented in a southerly line from the viewing area, making it almost impossible to get decent photos once the sun starts its march across the late morning/afternoon southern sky. You’ll be shooting straight into the sun, and you don’t want that. Secondly, during the warmer summer months, you’ll have greater chances of spotting wildlife during the morning hours, as opposed to the warm afternoon hours when they tend to seek refuge from the heat. The next best time to spot them will be in the cooler, early evening hours.
The drive up to the high elevation of Hurricane Ridge is always breathtaking as one reaches the point where one can start seeing the glacier covered peaks of the Olympic Mountain Range. One must remember that this is a coastal range and that one can drive from sea level to over 5200 ft in a matter of minutes. That is why there are, at many times, differences in weather conditions at the bottom as opposed to the top. So don’t always let the drizzle along the coastline stop you from visiting the higher elevations in the park. As stated, the differences in the elevations can be like night and day.
The first sensation I experienced as I set foot outside my car upon arrival at Hurricane Ridge was the sound of two, screaming Black Ravens circling directly above me. The second immediate sensation I experienced was the heavy perfume in the air from the luxuriant meadow wildflowers. It’s just unbelievable! I don’t think I have ever seen the meadows this full of wildflowers in all the times I have visited the park. And, of course, there is the eye-popping, visual experience of the magnificent mountain range, especially with the low clouds swirling in its valleys. Along the drive to the top, notice the abundance of flower species that literally grow out from the rock ledges. Here are a few snapshots I took.
If you live anywhere near this magnificent national park, try to make a visit to Hurricane Ridge soon while the meadow wildflowers are at their peak. They won’t be there later in the summer. Yes, it’s a long drive for many, but definitely worth the effort and experience!