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Lake Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Park

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Lake Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Park
The Lake Quinault Lodge, dating from 1926, is one of the classic lodges found in the U.S. National parks. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

The Lake Quinault Lodge, dating from 1926, is one of the classic lodges found in the U.S. National parks. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the then 11-year-old Lake Quinault Lodge on the shores of Lake Quinault in the rugged Olympic Peninsula of Washington during a fact-finding trip that so-impressed him that he signed a bill that created Olympic National Park. While there, he lunched at the dining room that would be named after him. You can enjoy the wilderness view from there too.

The impressive fireplace in the lobby of the Lake Quinault Lodge is a popular gathering place all day and all evening long. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

The impressive fireplace in the lobby of the Lake Quinault Lodge is a popular gathering place all day and all evening long. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Today, Washington’s Olympic National Park boasts more than a million acres of spectacular and diverse wilderness. It encompasses a potpourri of beautiful glaciers and snow-capped mountains, over 70 miles of rugged Pacific seashores, unique temperate old-growth rain forests with some of the world’s biggest trees, hot springs, interesting wildlife and evidence of thousands of years of human habitation.

Although you can see quite a bit of the park on the gorgeous drive on U.S. 101 from Port Angeles, Washington, the park’s northern gate, to Astoria, Oregon on the Columbia River, simply traversing the 297 miles of highway provides merely tantalizing hints of what awaits visitors who venture further into the park’s many habitats. To fully appreciate what the park offers, you need to get off Highway 101 and explore some of the park’s spectacular nooks and crannies. Spending at least a night or two in the park, preferably more, will allow you to see what Roosevelt saw and why he vowed to preserve it for posterity.

Fortunately, staying within the park is both possible and convenient whether you want to stay in comfort or rough it, with a choice of four lodges and 16 campgrounds. The 90-year-old Lake Quinault Lodge (on glacier-formed Lake Quinault) still accommodates guests year-round who enjoy sitting by the gorgeous fireplace and dine in the Roosevelt Dining Room surrounded by wilderness. Park visitors also want a room also have a choice of Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, Lake Crescent Lodge and Log Cabin Resort where they can occupy cabins in a wilderness setting.

Before You Go, Do some pre-trip research at:

Getting There

This hummingbird was one of several who visited the window of the Roosevelt Dining Room in the Lake Quinault Lodge during our breakfast. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

This hummingbird was one of several who visited the window of the Roosevelt Dining Room in the Lake Quinault Lodge during our breakfast. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Olympic National Park is accessible by car, boat, plane and train..

  • By car and ship, vehicles and passengers are carried onboard the ferry from Victoria, B.C. to Port Angeles, Washington. Highway 101 traverses the Olympic Peninsula from Port Angles to its southern border and continues toward Oregon. Lake Quinault is a 3-hour drive from Seattle, 3.5 hours from Portland and 3.75 hours from Victoria, B.C. via Ferry.
  • By air, the closest airport is William R. Fairchild International Airport (CLM) in Port Angeles, with limited service to Seattle. Major airports with extensive connections and include Seattle’s Sea-Tac International (SEA) and Portland, Oregon’s Portland International (PDX).
  • The nearest cruise ports are in Seattle and Victoria, B.C.
  • By train, Amtrak and Sounder run frequent trains from Portland to Seattle. The closest station is Olympia, Washington.

When You Are There

  • Take a coach tour year-round or hike seasonally in the rain forest surrounding Lake Quinault.
  • Take a boat tour on Lake Quinault (seasonal).
  • Participate in a ranger-guided hike (easy to strenuous).
  • Enjoy lunch or dinner at the Roosevelt Dining Room.
  • Look for Roosevelt Elk along the road or in the forest.                                                            

If you have a couple of days in the park, check out:

  • The beaches and tidepools at Kalaloch’s Beach, Second Beach, Third Beach or Ruby Beach
  • Viewing the dark night sky.
  • Wildlife viewing throughout the park and the surrounding national forest.
  • Learning more about the park at the visitor centers and ranger stations.
  • Winter skiing.
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Lake Quinault, in the heart of the rainforest in the Olympic National Park, displays many moods as daylight and seasons change. Here, on a beautiful April morning, is one of its visages. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

If You Have Several Days, enjoy:

  • Exploring more of the park, including the other lodges or one of the park’s 16 campgrounds.
  • Fishing in the ocean surf, some of the 600 lakes, and 4,000 miles of rivers and streams that support extensive runs of wild salmon, trout, and char.
  • Mountain climbing if you are a mountaineer.
  • Participate on some of the extensive ranger-led programs.

Ginny O’s  Tips For Dressing The Simply Smart Travel Way For Victoria

Sunset brings a gorgeous glow to Lake Quinault and its surrounding temperate rain forest. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Sunset brings a gorgeous glow to Lake Quinault and its surrounding temperate rain forest. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Dress casually and seasonably. Forget fashion and think comfort and flannel shirts. Weather can
turn cold and wet suddenly so dress in layers and make very sure you have comfortable walking shoes.

Destination At A Glance

Mobility Level:. Adaptable to people of any mobility level depending on activities chosen. Note that the Lake Quinault Lodge does not have an elevator and second floor rooms are reached via stairs. Hiking trails surrounding the hotel range from very easy to moderate.

When To Go: Year-round, depending on desired activities.

Where To Stay:  The Lake Quinault Lodge is one of four lodges in the national park. The others are the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, the Lake Crescent Lodge and the Log Cabin Resort.

Getting Around: A car is handy unless you are taking a guided tour.

Special Travel Interests: Temperate rain forests and coastal tidal pools.

Profile photo of Orenstein

Jeffrey Orenstein, Ph.D. and Virginia Orenstein are husband and wife travel writers from Sarasota, Florida. Their Simply Smart Travel column appears in newspapers and magazines in nine states and online.

Reach them at jorenstein@Simplysmarttravel.com. They publish travel ideas, articles, photos and blog at www.SimplySmartTravel.com and at www.facebook.com/SimplySmartTravel/.

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